"Coffee, while processing life's issues, provides an excuse for - and a spur to - our need for relaxed interaction in the ebb and flow of life. This seems acutely sensed and present in the "small world" nature of society in the coffee shop." - Dr Angelo Subida
Imagine your favourite coffee spot.
Picture yourself in your regular seat- perhaps by the window, tendrils of steam curling over your cupped hands from your latte that was made by the barista, just for you. There's a hushed murmur of activity all around. Some people are laughing and swapping stories, some are hunched over their laptops, the regulars are huddled here and there furtively people-watching over their newspapers and books, just like you are.
Do you miss it? I sure do.
Over the last few months a lot of things have been different while we wait out the novel Coronavirus pandemic. Swapping a shop-bought coffee for one sipped in the safety of one's home seems a relatively minor change compared with someone who has lost a job, freedom of movement or a loved one.
But it's something a lot of us are missing profoundly all the same.
As Cinderella puts it, "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."
I was a little curious where these feelings of loss are coming from - really, why does it matter so much? Here are a few reasons I came up with as to why we are missing our local coffeehouse.
Being emotionally and spiritually attached to a place like our favourite coffee house is actually fundamental to our sense of belonging. “Places root us—to the earth, to our own history and memories, to our families and larger community.” (Cooper-Marcus & Frances, 1998, p. xi) Not being able to go to a place that we feel a deep connection with, can affect us on the level of our very identity as people.
Taste and Quality
In terms of the coffee itself, for a lot of us, we just can't replicate the flavour and experience of a store-bought espresso. The coffee shop is equipped with superior tools- the industry standard espresso machine and grinder (generally) are on a different level to that of home equipment. Home espresso machines just don't have the pressure capabilities of a commercial, and a home burr grinder can be very spotty in terms of consistency.
In addition to that, the cafe employs trained professionals to make your cuppa- they could make around 300 cups of coffee in a morning, giving them a lot of practise! We also have additional factors like freshness due to daily turnover amounts.
Also, let's not forget that sometimes just having someone else make you something makes it taste nicer.
For some of us, the experience of heading out for a coffee is all about the vibe.
"You know what it is? A coffee shop is a home away from home. You don’t have to stare at the piles of unfolded laundry, dirty dishes in the sink, the burnout lightbulb that you’ve been meaning to change. That all goes away at a coffee shop. "- Kimberly Oley
Ryan, a software developer, says,"In my workplace, whenever we have a one-on-one meeting we will often head to a nearby coffee shop instead of the office. Being in the coffee shop makes for a casual, positive environment... It makes me feel like I can be open and honest."
“I miss going with my friends. For me, it’s about the company. It’s a nice, treaty thing to do.” -Merren McIntyre
So much of our socialising revolves around coffee shops. Even for an introvert who is flying solo, the experience of going out for a coffee can be all about human interaction.
You can essentially go, sit, and feel like you are part of a community, even without having to interact with anyone. (It's also a great opportunity for people-watching. Most cafes give one a little snapshot of the local community, which is fun to observe!)
Image credit: Wild Timor Coffee Coburg
I love the experience of having a coffee in a special, fun or unusual cup - one that I've never used before. What a novelty! Anyone else?... Just me?
Do you miss going to your favourite coffeehouse? Why? Let us know in the comments!
Waxman, Lisa. "The Coffee Shop: Social and Physical Factors Influencing Place Attachment" 2008. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1939-1668.2006.tb00530.x Accessed 25 May. 2020.