Why do we like the coffee shop? When I was a boy I thought coffee shops were only for the old men, the guys that get together every morning at the local coffee shop, talking about politics, war, the economy the weather. I figured they had nothing better to do than to drink coffee with a bunch of other old codgers. I’m old enough now to admit how wrong I was. I realize now that it was never really about the coffee, it was about community. It was about feeling connected to some group, someone, anyone even the barista who remembers your name.
During a time of unemployment I spent a lot of time at local coffee shops. After spending time alone you crave companionship and community. Maybe it was just being around other people hearing the buzz of conversations, listening to the baristas talk about their lives. Eaves dropping-voyerism maybe? Or just longing not to be alone? After a while you recognize the locals, the strange guy that only gets a free water, the business men in suits on their way to work, the stay at home moms. The Christians meeting quietly studying the bible, the fast talking guy trying to signup someone for one of the many multi-level marketing schemes. The other lonely people just like me sipping their coffee passing time, some of us were being industrious with our digital devices writing blogs, looking for employment, learning about the latest social media fads.I guess it was just comforting to share time and space with other people whether you really knew them or not.
To me it didn’t matter which shop I went to, large corporate places like Panera or the coffee giant Starbucks, local joints like Kuppa Joy or Sandy’s Country Junction, they all shared a commonality besides serving coffee they were serving community. It was always about community not just caffeine, of course coffee seemed to be the glue, the thread that held it all together but is was always more than that. Some places were noisy and busy, some were quiet with few patrons especially early in the morning it never mattered to me I liked it all, noisy or quiet, crowded or not. It was my place to feel connected and feel community. You see and hear a lot in the coffee shop. You experience other peoples; joy, sorrow, distress, excitement, anger, stress, happiness and love. You sit long enough or visit often enough you become part of the rhythm and flow of the coffee shop it becomes your little community even if only for an hour or two in the morning. I get it now I don’t judge the others like me, sipping their coffee, looking at the laptop or iPad, looking at their tiny screens passing time. For some it’s the only place they feel connected, it’s their community, it’s my community!
I’m writing this at my favorite coffee shop feeling the rhythm, feeling connected to those other souls getting their coffee this fine January morning. There’s nothing like a good cup of coffee!