New patterns either complement or replace old ones, and some emerge in a new guise; hence, we ask An important question: Which coffee house type are you? From newspaper readers to laptop users…
It really shouldn’t be here. Thomas has been watching the fly for some time now. It swerves dangerously close to the edge of his cappuccino cup, sucking things up. Sure, it’s nothing spectacular, but there doesn’t have to be anything spectacular to distract Thomas’s gaze from his laptop. The display shows that there are six more minutes before the download is complete.
Thomas watches the fly. It moves randomly here and there to the white counter, lands on the pastry case, and crawls up to the 'No Smoking' sign. A young man, obviously a customer, suddenly shoos it away with a newspaper. Wait a second: A newspaper? Thomas has been coming here regularly for some time, but he hasn’t seen anyone with a newspaper in quite a while.
There are countless laptops in modern cafes and coffee shops. Almost everyone has one. What people are doing with them can only be read from their faces; they may be updating their Facebook profile in the WLAN cloud, which has replaced the earlier clouds of cigarette smoke, chatting with friends, or are actually doing "serious work".
A sudden smile flickering over a face for unknown reasons can make others curious. What was that? What chat room is she in? It’s very strange how so many people can be physically in one space while at the same time somewhere else. The cafe is an intersection with the outside world as a terminal to hyperspace.
Boundaries are blurry in coffee houses. Such as the boundaries between the public and private life. The cafe is essentially a public space, as everyone is welcome and no one is alone. People gather together to be in a society; after all, home-based workers sometimes get tired of constantly sitting alone in front of their PCs. Social contact can do a world of good even if it’s only "atmosphere". If friends can’t be reached during working hours, the cafe is an optimal alternative. People can work, write e-mails, communicate while being surrounded by others, and yet not be disturbed. Everyone is in the public and private setting at the same time here.
And how about a conversation? In the past, the coffee house was the ideal place for gossip, chit-chat, and public relations of the "old-fashioned" style! However, communication has increasingly been moved onto the computer screen and the infinitely large "space" beyond it. Nonetheless – have no fear – direct interpersonal contact has not been abolished yet. Face-to-face discussions are still thriving in coffee houses. People come together. And if the group gets larger, it’s easy to pull up a second table. Even if someone eventually pulls out a laptop, or at least a smartphone.
Ideas are created where people come together, And the coffee house seems to be an ideal venue. From world literature, art and philosophy, and politics and business, the coffee house has proven itself as a fruitful ground for new things and ideas. For example, the ideas of a stock company was created in the eighteenth-century coffee houses of London. As a more recent example, Flickr was conceived at Ritual Coffee Roasters in San Francisco’s Mission District. Those who work on the Web 2.0 scene have also found a suitable location there to work on their programming codes.
The question that remains unanswered to this day, however, is the almost elementary question about coffee houses: Is it the inspiring, pulsing environment or perhaps the coffee itself that gives coffee houses this quality (o;)? All we know from personal experience is that a bit of stimulating caffeine makes us less dependent on day and night and makes phases of productivity last a bit longer.
By the way – Status symbols and coffee houses are an excellent fit. For example, the brand enthusiasts among digital workers are known to insist primarily on Apple products. Some people say that Apple users are in fact different than "normal" users. They sit with their iPhones for hours in coffee houses, drinking one cafe latte after the other, all the while surfing the internet on their stylish, button-less mobile phones. Is this a cliché? Sure, but there's also something true about this cliché. The U.S. company JiWire, which markets WLAN hotspots primarily in the hospitality industry, produced a study that focused on mobile Internet users. The study showed that Apple users constitute the majority of Internet users in the public. Almost 98% of all mobile telephone-like devices that accessed the Internet through the 30,000 WLAN hotspots under observation were Apple products; 54% were iPhones and 43% were iPod Touches. And the Notebooks? While Apple laptops only have 7.4% market share in the U.S., MacBooks make up 25.6% of all laptop access at the hotspots.
Our advice: Stay individualistic and enjoy your espresso!