Sociologist Ray Oldenburg talks about coffee shops as great “third places”:
For as long as there’s been coffee houses, a community of coffee drinkers has been meeting there to chat, learn, share, debate, gossip, scheme, read, and, of course, soak in the rituals of the daily brew.
They serve a vital function: a place where people from all walks of life can gather and mingle.
“It’s a great leveller,” says urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, a Florida based author known best for his book The Great Good Place.
“The people in the coffee shop are essentially equals . . . and that allows all sorts of people to associate. Different backgrounds, different attitudes, different lifestyles.”
I wonder if anyone has ever done research about whether coffee is the best product/food item to bring people together. Wouldn’t places like Starbucks attract different kinds of people than independent coffee houses? The article gives us an example of a neighborhood coffee shop where a mix of people come together. Do people at coffee houses talk with strangers or neighbors regularly, particularly younger generations? Are these sorts of places only possible in denser settings?
Bonus: this article has a lot of information about the coffee scene in Calgary. Another sociologist is quoted as saying, “Pound for pound, there’s far more bad coffee in places like New York than there are in Calgary.” I wonder if the quality of coffee shops correlates with larger percentages of residents who are part of the creative class.