Bringing the Convivial Vibe Back to Coffee

What is one to do when their coffee shop becomes more of a second office than a brief enjoyable escape from the tedium of the day to day? Well, many coffee shop owners around the country are coming up with new ways to counteract the “office without the cubicles” atmosphere that seems to drain life away from their storefronts. The coffee bar in busy Stumptown Coffee Roasters at the Ace Hotel in New York City is just one of the many shops embracing the new coffee bar trend.
(as it appears in the New York Times article.)
Coffee shops everywhere are noticing that customers seem to spend more time camped out at tables, nursing single cups of coffee for hours than enjoying what a coffee shop setting really has to offer. Nowadays you’re more likely to see people typing away on their laptops or blackberries than sitting and engaging in conversation with others, and coffee shop owners are taking notice. From coast to coast coffee shop owners are taking initiative and trying and bring back the idea of coffee houses as places to socialize, rather than plug in and check your social network.

A recent New York Times article cited the rising number of coffee bars throughout the country. Many shops across the nation, like SCAA members Stumptown Coffee Roasters, are embracing the new coffee bar trend. The coffee bars, modeled after traditional get in-get out Italian espresso bars, are meant to encourage patrons to engage in the coffee shop atmosphere around them rather than settling in and withdrawing into the niche of a cushy armchair. By installing raised counters and bar stools coffee shop owners are taking a step away from the traditional idea of the American café and giving rise to a new coffee bar culture, the coffee professional’s answer to the insularity of the digital age.

The Los Angeles Times recently ran a story on the elimination of free wi-fi in many California cafés. The move, while a sore spot for some in the consumer community, has already garnered several coffee shops great praise from other shop owners. By eliminating the distraction of e-mail or Facebook coffee shop owners have ensured that their businesses are known and respected for the quality of their product, not the speed of their wi-fi connection.

Just because it’s possible to have a conversation from opposite sides of the globe, it does not diminish the value of taking a few minutes every day to unplug and really enjoy a good cup of coffee, served by a hardworking barista. It seems coffee shop owners are leading the pack when it comes to taking time out to appreciate the simple yet important pleasures in life.

So, are you a coffee shop owner contemplating the pros and cons of adding a bar or going analog? What are your experiences with the matter? We’d like to know. Leave us your responses and let’s get a lively discussion going.