This blog really wants to stand at a bar and drink his espresso.

Living Room Coffee

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The shop I work in shares an atmosphere with most other indie shops, that of someone’s disheveled den. Add a pinch of kitchen aura, and a handful of second-office-ness, and one can completely and accurately describe Every. Coffeeshop. In. America. This is an exaggeration, of course, but true in 99.9999999% of cases, even the high-end specialty shops like Intelligentsia Broadway and Metropolis. Even the Intelli on Randolph flirts with this notion. Only The Coffee Studio, Intelli Monadnock, and Backstory Cafe sufficiently distinguish themselves from this model in my Chicago mind.

Why is this acceptable? And how has it not been challenged yet? It is essentially the paradigm that Starbucks implemented in the 90’s, and everyone saw it was successful and implemented it. Even GQ agrees that comfy chairs are a draw. But just because that way works doesn’t mean that others will not. Yeah, Starbucks’ agressive expansion stepped on a lot of people’s toes. It wasn’t just because of the chairs.

My point is this, and my cranky inaugural post on this blog hit the same mark: not every coffee shop has to be the same. Can we please get some variety? It might benefit the bottom line of a lot of shops to have some character with which they can distinguish themselves. The specialty industry talks a lot of game about standing apart via coffee quality, but we’d help our cause if the visuals and customer service experience matched the level of the product we were serving. I’m not just talking about being nice to customers; the layout of most shops right now is designed to minimize human interaction. There aren’t exactly many opportunities to converse with a customer.

And ceramic cups, seriously. It’s hard to present something as quality when it’s served in a paper sippy cup. We might be better off eliminating those entirely. Yeah, I just typed that.


Written by Nick

6 October, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Posted in Coffee

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