by Mike Vuono
September 20th, 2019
This past weekend a friend and I went to get coffee. It’s a local place, independently owned, the front door is littered with stickers; skateboarding brands, musicians, anti-this and anti-that, etc. My kind of place, I guess. It’s a lot like the coffee house from my hometown where I spent the majority of my free time when I was 14/15. Playing cards, stealing sodas, and drinking lots of coffee. Good times.
My friend and I got to the joint and pulled the door handle, no good. Locked. Locked? But, they’re supposed to be open. I did the thing with your hands where you create a little hood over your eyes and looked through the glass of the door. Dang, no one in there. Why are they closed?
My friend and I plopped down on the outdoor seating and both pulled out our phones. I Google’d the place, and sure enough, their hours say they should be open. I even went to their own website and checked the hours they have listed on there...yep. They’re supposed to be open. What the fuck, I thought, I want some coffee.
We walked across the street to a bagel place. Two medium coffees, please. Ugh, these aren’t as good. Whaaaat the fuuuuccckkkkk.
It was in this very line of thinking that I realized how much of a pretentious, entitled fuck I can be sometimes. I’m usually all about buying whole bean coffee and grinding & brewing at home. It’s cheaper, it means I’m always seven minutes from good coffee, and I like the practice of using my french press. Having made all sorts of concessions in my brain to go out and get coffee, I was hugely disappointed when the place was closed. But like, what does it even matter?
There was a time, I’m sure not too long ago, that this kind of thing was normal. Places opened late. Places just didn’t open for some reason. Especially some kind of local business, a non-chain place just doing their own thing. “Davey missed his shift.” “I was pretty hungover from last night and just didn’t feel like opening today.” “Whatever, fuck it.”
Today, however, this is unacceptable. Time is money, baby. Things must be open when you expect them to be open. You want that sort of rebellious, anti-establishment vibe to the coffee place, but you don’t want the staff to actually have any sort of rebellious attitude. You don’t want to deal with someone flaking out on a shift, or the shop running out of the flavor syrup you like the most, or not having those brownies you really like when you go there. We want an authentic experience, but also want that experience on demand, never faltering, always available.
American runs on Dunkin’ after all. How can those big bad sexy gears of capitalism keep on grinding mother Gaia down to nothing if those pesky cogs aren’t caffeinated? Be a good consumer; buy your coffee from a corporation, drive your 30+ minute commute to the corporation you work at, check your favorite corporate app to see what other corporate entities are up to (“oh my god, did you see the snark that Wendy’s gave to some kid who complained about a frosty?”) and drive back home, stopping on the way to your favorite corporate food place to eat something formulaically derived to appeal to the extremes of your tastebuds. It’s okay, they use 50% post consumer recycled napkins. That will save us all.
I’ve had a fantasy in my head for a while now that I just buy a bunch of tables and seating from a thrift store and arrange my living room to resemble a coffee shop. Going further into my fantasy, I start telling my friends they have an open invite every day of the week to come by from X to Y hours to sit and drink coffee and read and bullshit. Eventually I come up with a witty name for my apartment/coffeehouse, like “Coffee Apartment” or something (something better than that) and my friends start telling their friends and I have this word of mouth coffee place running out of my apartment and we’re all just hanging and watching livestreams of bears and arguing about which version of a song is better and is there any point to claiming your a nihilist when it’s pretty clear that the majority of us have low-grade nihilistic tendencies constantly running in the background of our lives, undermining virtually everything we do. A constant reminder that we are meaningless.
Only problem is, I don’t know how to make espresso. Maybe I’ll learn.