I just found out my favorite coffee shop is closing. I'm in shock. I'm angry. I'm disappointed. I'm miserable. But I'm not surprised. My brand began in the Bay Area and like many solid businesses that valued quality, pioneered the spread and enlightenment of quality, politically viable, affordable (for most) products. We're not talking Starbucks here. Their coffee is vastly inferior to what I'm talking about.
What hurts so much is that it's not just about the coffee. In fact, it's hardly about the coffee. I can still get and drink this brand in my home or at a few other spots in my town. What is really happening here is the destruction of a community.
Coffee shops are like watering holes. They make relationships, friendships, and provide places to gather. I often meet my student teachers at coffee shops because they are WiFi friendly, warm, accessible places. They are conveniently located and always open.
Since moving to Portland a decade ago, I've been to many, many coffeehouses. This city is well endowed with dozens of superior places. Some even have what I'd call drinkable coffee. Many do not. But one thing they all share is the socialization capacity. People meet and talk with one another. People share ideas, families, sorrows, achievements. Often the workers are part of the process. This is what dies when a coffee shop, recently under new corporate ownership, is forced to close. The official line is that the rent went up or the lease terms are changing and the volume of business doesn't warrant remaining open in this neighborhood any longer. Another manifestation of profit over the human condition. I can just hear some upwardly mobile budding CEO say, "I'm not in the business of caring about people's needs. I sell coffee." You sell much more, I would offer. Maybe when the door shuts a window will open someplace else. It's yet another quality of life issue in this changing world we inhabit.