Urban planning community | #theplannerlife

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Coffee culture

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    on my 15 minute break
    Posts
    21,881

    Coffee culture



    The topic of coffee shops has come up a few times in recent threads. Let's look at these critters a little more in depth.

    Why consume coffee in a coffee shop? It's more economical, after all to toss a couple scoops of Folgers into the Mr. Coffee unit on the kitchen counter. Consumers purchase beverages at coffee houses for entirely different reasons, which might include: quality of product (sure you can get good quality beans at most grocery stores, but coffee house coffee tends to be consistently higher quality across the board), convenience, and atmosphere. It's the last item listed that I'd like to focus on, as it is closely related to the issue of coffee culture.

    Contrary to popular perception, not all coffee joints' clientele consist solely of folks smoking clove cigarettes or wearing multiple garments made from hemp fiber. There are a variety of different coffee-serving establishments which cater to different subcultures, and while some would probably not readily identify themselves as 'coffee houses', their raison d'etre largely revolves around customers who leisurely consume coffee on premises while socializing with their peers. I'll let others comment on the middle and high end coffee joints and focus on blue collar varieties:

    Truck stops: these facilities tend to offer a variety of services, products, and amenities, but seating areas where coffee is consumed and cigarettes smoked are a staple. No, you won't be able to buy any Blue Mountain beans here, nor will the help know the difference between robusta or arabica. In fact the only two varieties of coffee you'll find are regular and decaf (or 'leaded' and 'no-lead'). 'Country' music is the order of the day, and if one happens to like Hank Williams Jr. you might be able buy his Greatest Hits cassette tape at the checkout counter for a $1. Harley-Davidson t-shirts and hats abound, many patrons wearing jingoistic 'Murica: Love it or Leave it' attire/bumper stickers. Conversation tends to run along the same lines as can be heard on any c.b. radio. Everyone here comes from somewhere else and often the only common thread is the patrons spend much time travelling the highways. Consequently, lots of truckers and bikers can be found here.

    Breakfast joints: Sure they serve food here, but a hefty percentage of the clientele lingers quite a while to gab over coffee afterwards and the waitresses fully expect most patrons will want at least a couple refills or 'warm-ups' (regular or Sanka, dear?). Unlike truck stops, the great majority of patrons are locals and many will know/recognize other regulars. We've ascended a step on the socio-economic ladder, but for the most part the meat & potatoes crowd are solidly blue collar. Conversations tend to run along the lines of people we know/knew and events both current and remembered. Many patrons will be wearing blue jeans or perhaps a cap emblazoned with a branch of service, or a kountry kitsch kitten-patterned sweatshirt. The median age of the clientele is probably around the mid 50's

    What type of coffee joint do/have you frequented? Do you ever meet regulars for conversation over coffee at any third place? What other observations about coffee serving establishments can you offer?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Oklahoma City
    Posts
    2,904
    I have frequented a variety of the more upscale type of coffee shops, yet with a more bohemian vibe (I don't exactly fit in in these places, but they usually have a singer/songwriter in the corner strumming a guitar [often times friends] or are conveniently located). One particular place stands out above the rest for me: Genuine Joe's in north Austin. One of my friends frequently plays shows there (he's a songwriter) and occasionally hosts the open mic night. They also have perhaps the best chai lattes I've ever had. I frequented Genuine Joe's much more prior to getting married. It's run by old hippies and younger hippy/hipster hybrids. It's kinda fun to bring in one my books about Ronald Reagan and read it in there 'cause I get all kinds of bad looks.

    For a cup of coffee for the sake of a cup of coffee (i.e. not going for an event or as a destination in and of itself), my wife and I are pretty bland. She likes Starbucks and I like Dunkin' Donuts. If they had Seattle's Best places around outside of one location in a Borders down here, we'd probably frequent that place more often.

  3. #3
    Talk about stereo-typing! Modern truck stops are quite different than years ago:

    Food services
    In addition to Blimpie, Wendy's, Dairy Queen, Orange Julius, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, The Iowa 80 Kitchen offers a fifty-foot salad bar and 'home-cooked' meals, serving 1 million cups of coffee and 90 tons of meat annually. The restaurant itself can seat 350 patrons, and a banquet room expands the total capacity by 60.
    10-4.
    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
    Abraham Lincoln

  4. #4
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Posts
    13,007
    We have a hole in the wall coffee shop where I live. They have two tables and pretty much nothing else. They don't have wi-fi or even a public bathroom. They do have incredible coffee.

    I find that either you are A.) Trying to get the starbucks crowd (i.e. those that drink coffee for coffee), or B.) Trying to get the rest of the people.

    This place just sells coffee. They don't even sell water. I like it because you can see they are good at what they do, and don't mess it up with trying to be something they are not. I wish they sold hot chocolate though.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  5. #5
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    the delta
    Posts
    1,213
    Here we have several of the cafes where old-timers (+65 cohort) drink regular coffee and complain about the city. We do not have any chain coffee places. The community college has a coffee shop that the students visit and the upscale dinner has a coffee place, but it caters to the lunch crowd. Our town has about 4 "hippie-liberals" so there is no place to go and relax and sit on the computer. In fact, I'd say 90% of the coffee drinkers in this town don't own a computer. Coffee in this town is to wake up in the morning.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  6. #6
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,739
    Blog entries
    3
    Oddly, Coffee Culture is the name of a Canadian coffee house chain that has its US headquarters in the Buffalo area. It's a step above Starbucks, IMHO; their atmosphere is a cross between a dignified manly den and a refined European coffeehouse.

    The drive-through lines at Tim Horton locations around here are usually several cars deep during rush hour. There are over 100 Tim's locations in the Buffalo metro, with many, many more under construction. Tim's is seen as an 'honorary local" because it's Canadian, and Tim Horton played for the Sabres. Dunkin' Donuts is trying to play catchup.

    Donut shops coffee culture is much different than coffee shop coffee culture, IMHO. At the donut shops, few linger except police officers. At the coffee shops, most customers will linger for at least a half hour or so.

    Around these parts, coffee culture can probably be classified along these lines:
    • National chains: Starbucks, Panera Bread. Still relatively sparse in the Buffalo area compared to peer metros.
    • Polished local chains (Spot Coffee, Coffee Culture). Usually packed, but snubbed by homers for not being "authentic".
    • Unpolished local coffee houses (Sweetness 7, Comfort Zone, Caz Coffee, etc). More of a boho vibe, and the preferred choice among the homer crowd.
    • Pastry shops. Generally a foo-foo "no boys allowed!" scene. A pastry shop near my house offers a discount for women. Is that legal?
    • Donut shops (Tim Horton's, Dunkin' Donuts).
    • Greek diners (too many to list). Popular for breakfast and among the late night bar crowd.
    • National diner chains (Denny's, Perkins). The favorite among the morning ROMEO crowd.

    One thing I've never seen at a coffee house in Buffalo: live music.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  7. #7
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    Metro Detroit
    Posts
    6,425
    We are very social animals and the "coffee culture" allows for our needs to be met at a very minimal level. We go to a coffee shop and play with our phones and laptops or read a book, many times without actually interacting with another person other than the barista. But just being around other people fulfills a very basic need.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  8. #8
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    the delta
    Posts
    1,213
    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    [*]National diner chains (Denny's, Perkins). The favorite among the morning ROMEO crowd.
    What is "ROMEO"?
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  9. #9
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    on my 15 minute break
    Posts
    21,881
    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    What is "ROMEO"?
    Acronym - Retired Old Men Eating Out

  10. #10
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2009
    Location
    The Glass City
    Posts
    2,610
    I love coffee houses! Working as a barista paid my way through my undergraduate degree and sustained me while I studied. Bunking down in the corner with my trusty laptop got me through graduate school. It is not my brains or genius that got me this far, but the sweet elixir that is coffee... pure, hot, and caffeinated.

    I do not get to frequent coffee houses anymore. Hawaii, simply, does not have them. We have a handful of Starbucks (which I'm too much of a coffee snob to support) and one or two local coffee houses (though they are filled to the brim with UH students so there is no seating and/or I feel like an old fart sitting in there with a bunch of 20 year olds).

    I truly miss coffee houses!

  11. #11
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Slightly Off-Center
    Posts
    8,288
    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    We have a hole in the wall coffee shop where I live. They have two tables and pretty much nothing else. They don't have wi-fi or even a public bathroom.
    If they have a hole in the wall, why complain?
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  12. #12
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Lowering the PCI in the Hills
    Posts
    7,358
    For plain, black coffee, Dunkin' Donuts and Tim Hortons are my favorite places. For non-chain places, there is a Kosher coffee house in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale called Chazzano that the wife of one of the guys on my bowling team works at and has awesome coffee. If the place were a bit larger, or closer to the downtown, it's the type of place that would have live music on a Saturday night... not on Friday night though because they shut down by 4:00 p.m. so the small staff can make it to temple. They do however have game nights on Saturdays in the fall and winter where you can try your hand at Risk, Monopoly, Yahtzee, etc... Chazzano is probably my favorite for a plain ole cup of coffee, but it's just not in a convenient place for me to go to as often as I would like.

    My favorite drinks however are the fat-ladden, whipped cream and foam topped, overpriced drinks and as much as people love to hate on them, Starbucks always has some good seasonal drinks. I also like a Michigan chain called Biggby's. I like those McCafe blended drinks at McDonalds and similar drinks at Panera and Tim Horton's... Basically, if it's filled with sugar and has a slight coffee flavor, I'll probably enjoy it!
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Coffee
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 48
    Last post: 18 Oct 2014, 12:59 PM
  2. Your thoughts on coffee
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 37
    Last post: 09 Dec 2010, 12:55 PM
  3. Coffee and Tea
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 32
    Last post: 01 Aug 2006, 1:11 PM
  4. Replies: 2
    Last post: 20 Dec 2004, 4:45 PM
  5. No Coffee for you.
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 16
    Last post: 23 Oct 2004, 3:30 PM