Things I Learned at the Caffe

The scent of coffee lures you in, while the camaraderie you experience from the patrons makes you want to return and, perhaps, become a regular. In all public spaces, there are annoyances to be had, but in the caffe these annoyances become quirks. In this environment, all people are equal, and we co-exist in a space where improvement is inevitable. Here are a few things that I have learned, over the years of hanging out at one particular establishment in the hip area of Buffalo, NY. You know it, right?

The customer is never right
This is adverse to everything we know as customer service employees, and yet, caffe workers can get away with it for some reason. Being rude is an essential part of the job description and you rarely get in trouble for talking down to customers.

If you want to have a private conversation, go somewhere else
If you are looking for a place to discuss important matters and you don’t want the opinions of complete strangers, this is not the place to be. However, it is always possible to get new insight from the regulars. If you need to discuss private matters, this may not be the place, but if you are just discussing the events of the day, where input is welcome, feel free!

Exes can coexist in a space without fighting
There is no ownership of the caffe by any individual customer. If you go there with your significant other and then you break up, you can still go without it being weird or awkward. It is the only small space in the city that you can coexist without there being a fight. Vortex of caffeine ends animosity.

Always bring a book, even if you are not going to read
A book can be a wonderful distraction. This does not mean that you should choose a book you would not be reading in actual life, but you may not actually get through any of it. You may end up reading the same chapter three times and still not comprehend the material, but it can certainly give you a way to ignore that particular person you were hoping not to (but expecting to) see.

When using a computer, the person next to you WILL look at your screen
This is simple logistics. The tables are in very close proximity to each other. Very European. So, if you are thinking you will have privacy, you are mistaken. You can do whatever you like, but just know someone is always watching.

Anyone can be a barista, but not everyone can be a barista
Pulling espresso is an art. It takes patience to learn the correct, Italian, method. This does not mean that that one cannot learn, but not everyone has the capacity to care. Some baristas are rude, but as long as they pull a great shot it makes no difference. No amount of niceness, though, can make a bad shot, better. Therefore, the quality of the beverage trumps the poor attitude. A great shot of espresso can make you forget any snide remark that comes from the other side of the counter.

Culture is created, and revolutionized, in the caffe
History is filled with caffe culture. In the Paris of the 1920’s, art, writing, philosophy, music, sociology, dance, and intellectualism came together in the caffe’s. The great ideas of the 20th century were hashed out over shots of espresso or cups of java. The caffe provides a third space (or place), as discussed by Ray Oldenburg in The Great Good Place. This concept revolves around community building and allows for the idea that most people have a first place (home) and second place (work), which leads to the need for a third place (community space) to gather and socialize.

Prior to the internet (and wi-fi) this third space was somewhere that the majority of individuals went to share ideas and build community. This community building has declined with the advent of small computers/tablets and the ability to be in a crowded room, alone. However, there is still potential for community building, provided by these spaces, and they are invaluable parts of our neighbourhoods. Without caffe’s, there would be nowhere to gather, therefore erasing the ability to share ideas and create new concepts and expand intellectualism. The classroom is a start, but without a social space to open up the discussion, many current day concepts would fall to the wayside.

Life is worthless without time spent at the caffe
This may not be the case for everyone, but it certainly is for me. Even though you could most likely do the same activities at home, for a lot less money, nothing replaces the ability to sit in a crowded room and be alone. The level of inspiration that comes from being in public is irreplaceable. This can certainly be accomplished in other places, but nothing can replace the sights, sounds, and scents of the caffe. If you have not experienced a caffe or caffe-like setting, please do. I think you will like it. If not, at least you will have a little buzz for your effort. Take the caffeine and carry on.

Peace and Java,

Agree? Disagree? Something I missed? Comment below to let me know YOUR thoughts!

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