I’m a coffee snob. It’s my only addiction. My co-workers have a Caffè Americano to thank each and every day for ushering me through my metamorphosis from curmudgeonly troll man to moderately friendly human being. The coffeehouse culture is also near and dear to my heart. I ran a coffeehouse a little more than ten years ago and made some extremely significant connections that I still enjoy. It was a tremendous place for building meaningful community. The employees knew the customers, the customers knew each other . . . it became a cultural hub where local musicians played and artists displayed their work. And while the technology over the last decade has changed the game and made wireless internet just about omnipresent, people did bring their laptops and work in. But I can’t recall it creating an environment of silent silos. Everyone regularly interacted. I miss that place.
That experience more than ten years ago, is pretty much the antithesis to my experience now. While I’m sure those community building coffeehouses still exist throughout the country, it seems the steady flow of traffic that I encounter on a daily basis is in one of two camps, the grab and go folks or the cordoned off lost in the laptop crowd. It’s really quiet with the only sounds coming from the cash register and espresso machine. Don’t get me wrong, quiet and peaceful is never a bad thing, but I think about how I see a lot of the same faces on both sides of the counter, but don’t know anybody’s name or see any of the regulars interacting.
As I stopped to pick up my morning life blood today, I started thinking about this concept and wondered if there were coffeehouses that decided they simply weren’t going to cater to either of the aforementioned camps. A simple Google search turned up Tazza Bakery Enoteca in Brooklyn, New York. Their website is a simple, one-page explanation of who they are that includes a downloadable menu, but more importantly, laying out what they offer, what you can expect. There is one section in particular that caught my attention:
“No cell phones. No wireless DSL. You come to Tazza to relax and relax you will. These are The Heights, after all… The heights of having your own little place: Tazza.”
18th Street Coffee House in Santa Monica, California, and Virgil’s House in Saratoga Springs, New York, are others that I’ve found that seem to have similar no laptop, no cell phone policies. Coffeehouses, can make an ideal work environment and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but I wonder how much more sequestered we can possibly become. Some may say it’s a time and place for everything type of thing, but it seems that the nose in a laptop is far more prevalent than a face-to-face conversation.
We Want to Know:
- Is there a coffeehouse in your life that you stop by regularly? Do you know the staff and the other regulars?
- What do you think about the places with no laptop or cell phone policies? Do you know of other places like that?
Start the conversation below!
*Top photo from Wikimedia Commons by Arria Belli
*Home page featured photo from Flickr Commons by Toshihiro Oimatsu