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What is a coffee shop?

I have been a coffee drinker for about 10 years now. A little while ago I decided to take an idea of a coffee shop and run with it, see where it goes. I made it a few weeks in and realized I had no idea what to do. Frustrated with not being able to wiggle my nose and make myself awesome, I decided to slow down and start learning more about coffee. I want to make sure that coffee is something I'm passionate about through and through, make sure this isn't just a phase (which I may be prone to).

SO...I went to my local library to get a couple of books. One is 500 pages long and the other is a recipe book. *sigh* There are not a lot of options in the library circulation, at least here in Az. I decided to start with the smaller one, the recipe book. It is Starbucks Passion for Coffee by Dave Olsen, Senior VP for Starbucks at time of publishing.

In the forward, Dave explains that the aroma is what first brought him to coffee. That makes total sense. Even the people who don't like to drink coffee, like walking down the coffee isle at the grocery store! The second section in the book is on Coffee Houses. This small section struck a cord with me.(Pg. 4-5)

Coffee houses were fixtures in 13th century Middle East and spread from there. Everywhere coffee went, coffee houses popped up. Each house provided unique experiences from the merchant who brought it and the culture who adopted it. The coffee shop has always been a place for people to go. (Pg. 8-9)

I did not appreciate coffee shops until I learned the "3rd Place" philosophy at Starbucks. When my manager explained to me that we provide top notch service and consistent quality to people so they have a 3rd Place, it all made sense. What I thought was just another restaurant (I had worked in a few) became something different. This book, and my not so great experience at the last coffee shop I went to, got me to thinking: what is a coffee shop?

To me, a coffee shop is comfort. The smell of coffee makes me stop and take a deep breath in through the nose. (I can understand why Dave was drawn in by the aroma.) It is a place where busy people will wait a few extra minutes to get the exact cup of coffee they want. It is the dark wood and earth tones that I associate with nature (something that calms me). The, more often than not, courteous interactions with people despite appearances is a microcosm of human peace and unity. (Doesn't that just give you warm fuzzies?)

There is so much more to a coffee shop than just the customer side. As a barista, my coffee shop was a second home. It was were I belonged. I thrived in developing my people and my customers, seeing them grow and move on as though they were my children. I loved fine tuning the machine that deployed 6 people behind a counter, working in unison, delivering 120 cups in a half hour. To be honest, for me, the coffee was just a nice bonus to the job. My job was about people and executing quality with efficiency. Then when I looked back and saw the work of my hands, I would brew a nice cup of Guatemala Antigua and sit down with one of my customers for a chat. It was a good day.

My coffee shop is fulfillment. What is your coffee shop to you?

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