Coffeehouses - a brief study

Cook, John and Patricia Santos. "Social Network Innovation in the Internet’s Global Coffee Houses: Designing a Mobile Help Seeking Tool in Learning Layers." Educational Media International, vol. 51, no. 3, Sept. 2014, pp. 199-213. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/09523987.2014.968446.

A concern in the 1600s was that learning and productive work was declining because people were spending too much time in the coffee houses. Cook and Santos compare this complaint to one people make today about social media as a major distraction. It was a place where folks from all walks of life gathered to share creativity and ideas. It wasn't uncommon to sit down next to a stranger and take up a conversation (page 1). As it turns out, coffee houses were often venues for lectures and referred to as "penny universities" because you could hear a scientist talk about his latest research for the price of a cup of coffee (page 2).

Mccomb also wrote about coffeehouses being places of learning on page 29.

This makes me think about all of the free content/classes/ resources available online now.

| Dr. Matthew Green
Button's Coffeehouse was a thriving establishment in London in 1712. The public gathered to drink coffee, read, write, discuss poetry, politics, science and world news. Green writes, "People from all walks of life swarmed to his business to meet, greet, drink, think, write, gossip and jest, all fueled by coffee... coffee came to be portrayed as an antidote to drunkenness, violence and lust; providing a catalyst for pure thought, sophistication and wit."
Coffee houses still seem to have this reputation as apposed to local pubs. They are peaceful common places.

In 1674 there was a Women's Petition Against Coffee - women claimed the drink "transformed their industrious, virile men into effeminate babbling layabouts who idled away their time in coffeehouses." These spaces were by and large men's spaces.
The coffeehouses were each unique - some were filled with taxidermy, some were gateways to brothels, others were places to unwind and watch dancers and entertainers on a stage, but each one was a place to talk for hours with strangers. Green states, "Despite these diversifications, coffeehouses all followed the same formula, maximising the interaction between customers and forging a creative, convivial environment....Listening and talking to strangers - sometimes for hours on end - was a founding principle of coffeehouses yet one that seems most alien to us today." not so foreign when we take in the concept of social media. I'm also curious to see if modern coffeehouses have managed to recapture any of this culture, or if these modern spaces are only spaces for already existing communities of friends to gather.
Mccomb also talks about women being against cofffeehouses, although she said that this was a minority of women. Most women saw coffeehouses as a positive alternative to the brothels and taverns. Women still did not frequent the coffeehouses and were more likely to have similar types of conversations or debates but only with friends and acquaintances and not with strangers.

"Isaac Newton once dissected a dolphin on the table of the Grecian Coffeehouse."
The taste of the original brew was disgusting. Even heavy consumers compared it to drinking "soot" or "excrement." But they liked the way it energized them and fueled their minds. The flavor of coffee in London has greatly improved over time.
Green characterizes the old London coffeehouses as spaces that provided "opportunities for intellectual engagement and spirited debate with strangers."
i will compare this to social media

"Fostering Enlightenment Coffee House Culture in the Present" by Sofie Mccomb
"Society began to question the concepts and customs it had abided by for so long and wondered how it might improve itself." - Introduction. *This could relate to early diaries and blogs as a catalyst for self-improvement.
"The time period advocated for a culture of widespread discussion and debate that would be free, open, and inclusive and that would be used to critique social standards and behaviors in a realm of public opinion, known as the public sphere." (page 2) The purpose of these discussions was often to influence civil or political action or change.
Mccomb defines Enlightenment as " the process of using innovative and reasoned approaches to examine and reflect on
social standards in order to bring about progress." - pg 6. - *This could connect to digital writing.
She talks about Immanuel Kant's 1784 definition of Enlightenment as "the ability to freely and publicly make use of one’s reason
through open public discourse" - pg. 6.
The Enlightenment period has been recognized for advancing the education and power of individuals who otherwise had been left out of the public sphere due to discriminating factors such as gender, race, education and class. "Enlightenment provided everyone with the means to overcome the restrictions that prohibited entrance to the public sphere." pg 8.
Mccomb talks about how there was some evidences of micro-spheres, small groups of women or political interest groups, but this phenomenon is not what proponents of the public sphere want to see because they see " the sphere is a universally accessible realm unaffected by social hierarchy" - pg 10 Wow! Review the whole paragraph on page 10 as it defines the public sphere! This is a great parallel to the Wiki world! Participants do not use the space to pursue individual ideas or theories or opinions, but rather, employ something called "rational autonomy" - an abandoning of anything individual for the sake of rational thinking for an outcome of general equality. - Much of these ideas come from German philosopher Jürgen Habermas. *Possibly read more about Habermas in relation to wiki culture.
On page 11 - " The public realm is about having social group identity seem invisible in order for the public sphere to appear universal." This too relates to wikis too. Mccomb discusses the instability of this on page 11.
Pg 17 "While the public sphere is an
abstract conception of public opinion that seems unable to further these ideals, it was able to do
so through its realization in Enlightenment coffeehouses. The seventeenth and eighteenth century
coffeehouses were unique social institutions that represented a spatialized version of the public sphere."
Mccomb's thesis about coffeehouses - "the intense public discourse and
debate that occurred in coffeehouses between members of different social classes broadly
expanded the newly forming sphere of public opinion and contributed to the formation and entrenchment of democratic ideals and civil liberties in modern society." pg 18
Page 19 - Coffee became popular during a time that drinking water was unsafe to drink. People were impatient and frustrated with the effeccts of alcohol, so coffee was a welcomed exchange for beer because it provided mental clarity with additional focus and energy. It was called the "think drink".
Coffee was largely associated with men - as we saw in other references. The drink was associated with a certain energetic aggressiveness, and women were more likely to steer clear and drink tea instead. - pg 20
Page 22 - In the late 1600s and early 1700s, "The drink took hold of society and interestingly
became known as the drink of democracy, due to its hand-in-hand relationship with the spread of
democratic rights and the formation of commonwealths, especially through the coffeehouse establishments."
Last paragraph on page 22 and 23 are very important about the role of the early coffeehouses - and how they were spaces for the representation of public sphere - noting that the public sphere is an ideology and cannot be a geographical location!
Page 25 has an interesting section about the freedom of speech and the regulation of speech in the coffeehouse.
The ability for civil and thoughtful discourse to occur was a unique characteristic of the coffeehouse.

The bottom of page 24 describes the environment and climate and culture of the coffeehouse and why it worked as a public space for the engagement of ideas and debates. page 26 contains a poem/prose that circulated and was posted in London coffeehouses - a great parallel to The Wiki Way. Although the rules in the poem are satirical - they reveal a general understanding shared among coffeehouse goers.
Look up Markman Ellis
Ellis outlines rules for coffeehouses - all men were welcomed to participate regardless of social class. All opinions and debate were welcomed as long as they were “rational, critical, skeptical, polite, calm, and reasoned.” - taken from Ellis's work. Debaters were expected to step down when a superior argument was presented. Debates and conversations should be about topics that concerned the public and could better the society. Coffeehouse conversations became popular pastimes. - pg 27
Page 28 - Coffeehouses were fertile ground for the growth of democracy; men of lower class had a space where their voiced could be heard and they could exchange opinions and ideas with men of the upper classes. Although the coffeehouses were mistakenly characterized as placed of sedition, rebellion or treason, in actuality, they were lively hubs of intellectual - but polite- exchange.

Page 30 - While elite class read the great thinkers, the lower classes often read the works of "Grub Street Writers." This makes me think about readers nowadays - possibly reading more bloggers who may or may not be published authors. This makes me think about readers nowadays - possibly reading more bloggers who may or may not be published authors. The other cool thing on this page is the "creation of the Encyclopédie in 1751 by Denis Diderot." -This is like the Wiki - to bring the accessibility of education to all.

Page 34 - "Coffeehouses served as a space where freedom of speech was accepted as an inherent right, even before the rest of society viewed it as a natural right and constitutionalized it."
Freedom of speech as a possible topic to look at closer

There was criticism against coffeehouses as public spheres saying they were idealized or romanticized - The critics point out the lack of diversity. It was true that men of all social classes were welcome, the actual representation was predominantly that of middle and upper class white men. Women, as we've seen were not represented. The views represented tended to be more liberal than conservative. pg 35.


|Coffeehouse Culture by Coffee Review
Coffeehouses actually originated in Mecca and Muslims were the first coffee drinkers in the world.
It was the drink for the mind; whereas alcohol was more for the body. "...alcohol typically makes us want to eat, fight, make love, dance, and sleep, whereas coffee encourages us to think, talk, read, write, or work."
|The Coffee Ritual by Coffee Review " ...a ritual is not only a gesture of hospitality and reassurance, but a celebration of a break in routine, a moment when the human drive for survival lets up and people can simply be together." - *Tie this in with what Sarah from Fiddlehead said.

|"What Made Coffeehouses Go Boom" by Brentin Mock
Brentin Mock thinks the proliferation of coffeehouses in every urban setting was inspired by the 1990s sitcom hit, "Friends". The characters hung out at a coffee shop called, "Central Perk." A theory of culture being shaped by media rather than being reflected by media. He might be on to something. He calls this the "gentrification" of young suburbanites.

Maybe Starbucks is responsible with its powerful marketing. "The coffee chain blew up in the ‘90s. In 1994, when Starbucks opened its first drive-thru operation, the company ran 425 stores across the country. By 2000, it had 3,501 stores open across the globe; by 2005, it ran 10,241 outposts." Starbucks paved the way for independent coffee shops to charge $4 for a cup of coffee, and the independent coffee shops grew more appealing to consumers during the ongoing anti-big business trend. One of Mock's colleagues speculates that people lament the loss of community in our post-industrial and tech. saturated, isolationist world.

A few of his friends speculated the boom was related to the technology boom. More people had laptops and tablets but wi-fi was not always a thing at home. The Cyber Cafe was popular in the 90s and early 2000s for this reason. People could get free wi-fi and coffee was a bonus. Mock cites another source on this topic @ |The New York Times

Mock notes that during the recession and post the recession, some coffee shops put a ban on laptops to discourage loitering from the unemployed. In 2014, |The Wall Street Journal *I have to look this up at the library because it requires a paid subscription - looked at how business at Coffee shops was affected with the laptop bans were enforced.

| The Guardian reported that business in Vermont improved after the laptop ban. This business envisioned a place where people would meet and chat with friends, and instead they were seeing more and more laptop and tablet users. The space was becoming something other than husband and wife owners had imagined. Laptop users tend to spend more time and less money at the establishments, and so they decided to ban laptops and other technological devices. They admitted it was a scary move, but it has paid off for the Whelans who have improved their sales by an overage of 10% a year since enforcing the ban in 2014.

In the comments section of Mock's article, readers bring up an explanation for the coffeehouse boom that echoes something we learned from the 18th century coffeehouses: they are a direct contrast to pubs or bars, providing an alcohol-free venue for people citizens who want to socialize sober. They mentioned the appeal coffeehouses offered to the underage crowd and also to young parents or young professionals. These groups want to socialize, network, make connections.

One comment suggested Ray Oldenburg's "Third Place" - THIS LOOKS LIKE AN AMAZING BOOK FOR THIS PROJECT! Unfortunately, I can't find it at the library. I will have to rely on Wikipedia for now.

Another reason for coffeehouse's rise popularity is a decline in the interest young people have in organized religion. Young people are rapidly leaving church denominations, so perhaps the coffeehouse has become the new gathering place.
Some people think it's just because the coffee is addictive and everyone likes the sugary pastries many of these establishments sell to accompany the brew.

Mock introduces me to a HUGE resource for all the coffee articles I could ever want - @ |World Coffee Portal

|The Concept of Third Place
This concept was studied and written about by Roy Oldenburg (1989/1991)who thought a third place (home = 1st, work = 2nd) was necessary for a strong civil and democratic society. Coffeehouses are often this Third Place for communities.
The criteria for a space to be a Third Place closely resembles the coffeehouses of the Enlightenment era: These places level (or as one author put it, elevate) those present to equality.
Conversation is a key characteristic.
It's a place where everyone is free to come and to go. There is no obligation to be at this space.
In this Wikipedia entry about Third Places, they do discuss virtual communities but only in the context of online multiplayer games. Issues to be addressed are the use of avatars and the manipulation of identities.

|Millennials and Our Coffee House Culture
This article agrees with Mock that shows like Friends and Seinfeld influenced millennials. Doner also believes millennials have more disposable income than their parents did. He thinks the atmosphere of the coffeehouses with their artsy motifs appeal to the dreamer and the romantic in the millennials. He also thinks millennials need coffee to stay awake.

| Millennials at Work
"gourmet coffee beverage consumption among 25-39 year olds jumped from 19% to 41% between 2008 to 2016." Millennials associate coffee with productivity.
| Mars Drinks a company whose mission is assisting companies achieve "workplace vitality". One thing they have found essential to a lively work environment is high quality beverages. In an era that allows many workers to work from home or remotely, companies are challenged to find ways to attract their employees in to the office space. Creating a coffee shop atmosphere and offering delicious beverages is one way companies are doing that.
In the Mars Drinks study, they found that "Generally,
• Millennial workers prefer to use work cafés to get work done
• Generation X tends to use work cafés to get away from work or to refresh, and
• Baby Boomers are most likely to be found connecting with others socially within the
work café experience." - |Download Whitepaper - *not sure how to cite this one.

|Unplug, Drink, Go Coffee shops in NY in 2010 were often banning laptops and also remodeling to discourage the "office away from home" mentality. They replaced the tables and comfortable chairs with counters and bar stools and high top bistros. The owners of these shops felt this was more conducive to socializing. They also felt they were seeing a trend in customers following an Italian tradition of stopping in, chugging down a quick espresso for an afternoon pick-me-up, and hastening on their way. The coffee shop took on a busy, flurry of workers coming and going.


|Another article by Brentin Mock that is really excellent and discusses the racial disparity between young black urbanites and white urbanites - and the symbolism of the coffeehouse - and the myth of it being a social leveling space.*!!!










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