I am sitting in one of the best examples of the genus/species “cheery morning independent coffeeshop”, if you are one of the fortunate few who live in or frequent gimme coffee in Ithaca NY, you know what i mean… gimme coffee has wireless internet, phenomenal coffee they roast themselves, and its a two block walk from my house…..
Successful coffee shops must have personality, and gimme coffee certainly does, its part of their whole business ethos. Even a starbucks has a very carefully crafted personality. What makes a great coffee shop? that has entirely to do if the coffee shop personality matches your personality….
from my memory of the physical and psychological geography of this country before the explosion of the coffee shop craze, it seemed that coffee really was a gas station thing, or a mandatory drug consumed at home before the drive to work or during finals.. there was little “experience” to coffee, except for the soaring sensation of the drink itself…
if I were a biologist, trying to classify the genus/family/species of “coffee drug delivery mechanisms”, and what are the distinctive characteristics of each, it might go something like this:
1. Cheery morning independent coffee shops: bright, early AM hours, clean, wood floors, frequently plays folk/dylan & light rock, sometimes serves more complicated sandwiches too, elegant pastries/scones/bran muffins are a must, a very diverse clientele, art on walls is gentle impressionism or art photography involving extreme closeups, if they have wireless internet there is often a schmo like me with a laptop in the corner “working”. Always has soy milk available.
2. Upscale/corporate coffeeshops: corporate, steel trim here and there, sells the NYT/USA today/local paper, often carpeted floors in the table section, matching tables, monstrous pastry selection, plays unidentifiable soft music, clientele is usually middle aged professionals, or people with lots of money, people are fervently talking, or reading the business section of the newspaper.
3. Arty collage punk coffeeshops: dark walls, if you can see the walls from underneath the art, must have wireless, often has smoking section, late late late PM hours, mismatching furniture or tables, plays techno-trance-edgy-rock-vibe music, floor looks cheap, whatever it is, food is often out of stock, maybe they sell wrap sandwiches and pizza too, chaotic is a sign of the genuine, the owner is probably younger than you, so is all the clientele, usually has at least 1 or 2 drinks that might be fatal, as they contain 4-7 shots, there is usually a customer in the corner writing in a journal.
4. Wannabe gas stations: 35 airpots of gourmet coffee to choose from, half the airpots are empty, some of the condiments are out, and the coffee can vary between passable and dirty water.. floor is linoleum, no seating, sells krispy kremes/doughnuts as well, music? hah!
5. Drive through “drugs to go” coffeeshop: usually a kiosk near a road, mandatory entertaining name, the floor is your own car, building usually painted red, or yellow, or other bright color to attract attention of sleepy eyes.. think a fishing lure, same color palette, the music is your car radio/cd player, the coffee usually makes your heart pound immediately due to extreme caffeine content.
6. Deli Coffeeshop: these places really started out as sandwich shops, and their menu/layout reflects this, but they discovered the insane profit margin of coffee, and shifted their focus a bit to attract this lucrative crowd of addicts.. name has nothing to do with coffee, large coolers of sandwiches/salads/pastries, 100% food service linoleum floor, no music, sometimes these are in strange locations.
Why am I expounding about coffee shops?? I am in a 4 week break from serious training and its driving me nuts… its as much a psychological thing as a physical “healing” from what I have done to myself over the last year, my body naturally de-trains quickly, and complains to me every step of the way… when I asked one of my coaches “how much should I train” he said “as little as you possibly can.. a good chunk of myself, physically and emotionally is bound up in working out… so not working out is REALLY hard… I mean I am doing some easy XC skiing, and light lifting and ab work, but its almost nothing compared to my usual twice a day efforts..
does this seem crazy? Olympic trials are less than 10 months away, shouldn’t I be training my brains out? actually, one of the fascinating things about the human body is that even though our minds love routine and patterns (how many gym-inhabitants have done the same workout every gym trip since they joined?) to improve a physical performance capacity we must constantly break routine and habit…
as soon as we have adopted to one type of physical stress, we really have to change the stress to get better.. its a basic concept of training periodization, I change how I lift every 4 weeks, for example… I have been in a routine and habit of training for a year now.. so I need to break the stress and habits of training for a bit, to reach higher fitness levels later… even Lance Armstrong doesn’t ride much for a month… the soul needs it too, I love to skate, so when I get a little sick of putting them on, (and I was the last month of the season) its time to take a break..
hmmm, my coffee cup is empty… time for more!! also I think i will mess about with the header of this blog, put a more atmospheric image in there..