When my alarm when off at 7a.m. I sprang out of bed in anticipation of where I would venture off to come 9:15. I made the short drive from west center to Barista’s and parked my car, ready for a cup of, well I hadn’t quite made up my mind at that point. As I approached the door I could hear the lively melody of the music inside. Taking in the lighting, warm colors, sounds of chatter, and coffee aroma peaked my excitement as I made my way to the counter. I was overwhelmed with choices, needing time to study everything on the menu, change my mind three times, and finally do eeny-meany-miney-mo. The vanilla bean from Starbucks is one of my favorite drink, but I haven’t found one quite like it at other coffee shops. The specials had a choice called white bunny and I thought it could be close. White mocha with coconut. Gross! Not going to happen. I settled with my springtime favorite, a peach pear smoothie and a cinnamon roll.
The counter was lined with cinnamon rolls, danishes, pound cake, cookies, silverware, napkins, straws, and several different choices of tea bags, while the cooler was filled with different flavors of milk and water, vanilla cream soda, and yogurt. By the back entrance there is a large selection of flavored coffee beans and a grinder with a sine that says, “Ask any barista for assistance before grinding beans. Thank you!”
For the next hour I sat and studied my surroundings, watched the other customers, checked email, Facebook, and Twitter, and enjoyed the peace and serenity that flooded away the stress and anxiety I was feeling up to that point. Coffee shop atmospheres tend to do that. The intoxicating smell of coffee can almost instantly warm my body and my soul. The rich, warm yellow/tan and brown textured looking walls remind me of the warmth and comfort of sitting in front of a fireplace, cuddled up with a good book. The sturdy looking wooden tables and chairs have a strong presence throughout the coffee shop, while the black booths, brown couch, and chair are a welcomed haven for those looking slouch into the cushions. Mood lighting was created from lamps and six sets of lights spread out across the shop, with five lights to each set and each light facing a different direction.
The decorations add to the overall vibe of the place. Above each booth is a beautiful picture depicting pink and yellow flowers. Nearby the couch is a large bookshelf, filled to the max with books. Titles and authors jumping out are James Patterson, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, John Grisham, “Moby Dick,” “Behind the Oval Office,” and a large red and black book, “The End to Racism.” Chai tea cans and three miniature tea cups line the top of the bookshelf. Above the couch rests a three part canvas depicting the top of a coffee cup, with swirls of foam making a unique design. My favorite piece of work is hung by the counter. It’s a picture of a man and woman walking down a street lined with shops. The warm and cool colors create nice contrast and draw viewers in. The art was appropriately selected and adds to the overall feel of the coffee shop.
The machines busy at work, the baristas laughs from behind the counter, the overhead music, and the chatter of conversations among friends, family, and coworkers intermix creating a plethora of sounds. The music is light, sometimes lively, but always relaxing. Some customers get animated talking to their companions, while others are wrapped up in their own world.
While studying the people in the coffee shop, I noticed ages ranging from around 18 to 45, both male and female. Some looked studious buried in a book, typing away on a laptop, shuffling through a stack of papers, and showing design plans to a business partner. Others were making phone calls, carrying on intimate conversations with their companion, or picking up their drinks and going about their day.
I noticed a studious looking dark haired guy, dressed in black and wearing glasses reading “The World is Fat” while sipping tea from a mug. He only set the book down and pealed away his eyes when he got his two refills. Two men dressed in khakis and dress shirts were engrossed in conversation. The one man had a book and his phone on the table, perhaps he had been awaiting the arrive of the other one. The free wifi is a hit as several electronic devices were in use.
By 10 o’clock there were 19 people in the coffee shop. There were times when the line got long. I overheard several
people ordering chai tea. One man went to pick up his dry cleaning while his mocha was being prepared. One of the four baristas working was congratulated by her coworker for “restocking everything like a champ today.”
Barista’s is unique because you don’t only go there for a product or service, you go there for the atmosphere and the way it makes you feel. It’s a place to meet people and enjoy a cup of liquid caffeine. A place where people can come after being in the cold, looking for something to warm their bodies and souls. It’s a perfect place to study or read. In a visit one can find energy, ambition, relaxation, and a boost of happiness.
As for me and my coffee shop experience, this time of observation didn’t feel like an assignment at all, but rather like some much needed me time.