What’s the big deal about coffee?
A bunch of little brown beans from a bunch of tropical plants that are ground up into tiny bits. Then, whilst bleary, semi-comatose or anxious and stressed coffee people wait impatiently, hot water is ceremoniously poured over said tiny bean bits, creating an unlikely brown beverage that has been quaffed, chugged, savoured, sipped or directly infused via IV drip into several kajillion people across this planet, several or more times a day, every single day.
And when said kajillion people aren’t brewing at home, they are invading establishments that will sell you a cup of java for almost as much as it used to cost to fill the tank of my old Triumph TR3 sports car back in the day.
But why? Why do so many of us lemmings spend nearly an hour’s worth of minimum wage for one or two cups of fancy coffee? Coffee with made-up foreign names such as mocha-docha capo, weenie low fat vanilla steam de Niro pachino decaf expresso!
It’s not just the rampant coffee addiction affecting one out of every one person visiting the local bistro, cafe or similar caffeine refuelling station that can fully explain this phenomenon.
Is it the fact that imbibing copious amounts of public coffee is a great excuse to meet with friends and solve the world’s problems and complain about your sore knees? Yes, but it’s also something else.
The most successful coffee trough the world has ever seen – Starbucks – says the secret to their success is what they like to call The Third Place.
I heard on the radio whilst waiting in a lineup at a Tim Hortons drive-thru, the Starbucks dude explain that home is place No. 1 for us. Your work location is your second place, and Starbucks has created your third place.
The theory is that people will be drawn (no doubt by the smell of expensive coffee) to a place that feels somewhat like home (without squabbling kids or a pile of bills on the kitchen table), and a place that is far, far away from work.
A third place in your life’s ranking of places where you can relax, chill, unburden your wallet and order something called a venti. Which of course makes it tastes much better than one called a large.
Ironically, the Starbucks dude was being interviewed on account of his company was announcing the introduction of the new Starbucks drive-up window concept.
This consists of a simple window with no cafe inside. You can only get a coffee by driving (or walking, if you desperately need some joe) to a window.
The third place? One hand reaching out of one window.
No problem, says Starbucks. They say when you have a nice venti cup of their coffee in your hand, you’re taking your third place with you.
“What place are you guys?” I asked the young person at the Tim’s window.
“Pardon?” she responded.
I smiled and drove away with my nice, hot, extra large decaf double-double.
Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker.