There’s a place of meeting so familiar, so relatable, that movies include this setting in the infancy of romance.
This backdrop I’m hinting at is so notably common that writers of one of the most popular television shows of all time anticipated an instant connection for viewers when they planted an orange sofa in the middle of this now iconic (though fictional) meeting place in New York City.
Not sure which familiar and relatable environment I’m referring to here?
Any Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks fans recall a barista in the background of Shopgirl and NY152’s first face-to-face encounter in You’ve Got Mail?
In America, before the popularity of coffee houses, upper class citizens were the primary audience for up and coming music and art talent.
But, as coffee shops spread to other areas, so did the talent showcased in them. And, with their relaxing atmosphere and smaller crowds (compared to larger venues), coffee houses were the perfect starting place for new talent.
Soon, because of coffee houses, middle class America was introduced to talented performers from racial backgrounds, ethnic groups, and remote rural areas they knew nothing of prior.
Now, the music often showcased in coffee houses has become so popular, so sought after, that an entire genre has been dedicated to it.
"Coffee House" music is often described as possessing a soft and edgy tone, but it includes such a wide variety with selections from acoustic, jazz, soft rock, even electric and alternative.
This range seems to embody what coffee shops have brought to society since their inception, a coming together of people, ideas, cultures, and personalities, gathering to provide, even create, community!
Even today, coffee houses and cafes continue to bring people together through the arts, from various walks of life.
A Cup of Community
While we’ve seen the shaping of art, literature, music, even politics, economics, and society through the gatherings in coffee houses, there’s one more element here that I want to expound upon.
Researchers in the field of relationships tell us that friendships are formed and made through regular, unplanned interactions with members of a community.
As children, we often see this occur in school. Whether on the playground at recess, in the classroom, or when gathering for lunch, students have the opportunity to meet others and build bonds of friendship, meeting needs of socialization, most every day.
As adults, we have fewer opportunities for such interaction. And, perhaps that’s why coffee houses have been, and continue to be, such epicenters for building a sense of community.
Meetings at coffee houses, planned and random, as people tend to hang out for a bit when enjoying a delicious cup of joe, help us build social networks, as well as community values.
The caffeine component of coffee has been shown to improve mood, making individuals more friendly and sociable.
Even modern churches have been tapped into the community-enhancing qualities of coffee shops, putting small cafes in their facilities to promote fellowship and communication amongst members and visitors alike.
We all know it’s a common practice, meeting friends, family, or partners at coffee shops to talk, laugh, and share life with one another for a bit. But, do we take for granted the sense of community found there?
When’s the last time you met up with colleagues to discuss a project over a cup of coffee?
Have you been to a local coffee shop lately to check out the new musical or artistic talent showcased there?
You can even bring that coffee house experience closer to home, as a growing trend involves inviting neighbors or groups of friends over for some coffee, communication, community, and care!
Maybe raucous rebellion isn’t your cause. And, perhaps you’re not looking to pen the great American novel, but let’s not underestimate or neglect the power of coming together with others, building community…even (and especially) around a cup of coffee.
References:https://studyfinds.org/best-tv-shows-friends-seinfeld/ https://ilovetheupperwestside.com/movies-filmed-on-the-upper-west-side/ https://www.britannica.com/topic/cafe-eating-and-drinking-establishment https://www.history.com/news/coffee-history-facts https://www.history.com/news/coffee-houses-revolutions https://conversational-leadership.net/coffee-houses/ https://blogs.loc.gov/folklife/2014/04/coffeehouses-folk-music-culture-and-counterculture/ https://www.battlefields.org/learn/head-tilting-history/sip-sip-hurrah-how-coffee-shaped-revolutionary-america https://sites.udel.edu/britlitwiki/the-coffeehouse-culture/ https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/intersection-of-coffee-and-creating-coffee-shops-and-their-purpose/ https://www.coffeeforless.com/blogs/coffee-for-less-blog/coffee-shop-music-as-a-genre https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/psychology-relationships-adult-friends.html# https://www.coffeeandhealth.org/coffee-and-caffeine/coffee-socialising http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2018/05/coffee-with-colleagues-caffeine-is-a-social-enhancer/