The Indie Coffee House Myth
They are trendy, visited for the environment and the stigma that goes along with them, but local coffee houses don’t automatically have the best coffee. Because they are small and personable, with friendly staff, and apparently give more attention to each individual order, they must be better than everything else. This is not the case. I often find that the coffee one can make themselves at home is better than coffee made at the local shop. You also save money making it at home, those small houses have to maintain high prices to stay in business, and rely largely upon the environment to draw in customers. Ten dollars spent on a bag of coffee at the store, which makes five full pots of coffee, is better than spending ten dollars on two medium drinks at the coffee house.
But what about the specialty drinks that coffee shops offer that I cannot make myself? If you want a cappuccino in the morning on your way to work, you might think you do not have time to make it at home. In this case it seems more convenient to stop and pick one up, but think about the amount of minutes spent doing either one. It is likely that you would spend just as much time waiting in line as you would making it yourself. And once again, it’s cheaper going solo. All that is needed is a little extra effort on your part to learn how to make the drink, and that effort will pay off both in time and money.
Indie coffee shops also attempt to market themselves as being the modern equivalent to the cafes of Paris and Venice in the 18th and 19th centuries, where the most creative people of their time would gather and collaborate. This is also a myth. Those cafes were created for that specific purpose, to bring artists and writers together, but modern shops are created to make money, and are thrilled with any extra attention given to them by their community. It is very trendy to take your laptop into a coffee house and write, but that will only serve to be distracting, with people milling around and talking over eachother. Just being seen as a person who writes in a shop is often the most attractive aspect of that venture, it is not primarily functional.
Perhaps your local caffeine and flavor dealer is great, maybe everything is delicious and prepared perfectly, and I hope it is. I’m am forming my opinion based on my local indie spot, which after trying around 90% of the menu, I have found is a terrible place for coffee. People still flock there for drinks, but the trendy aspect is the main reason for its business. There are diners around that make better coffee than that place. The best things they have are the ice water and their grilled cheese sandwich. The grilled cheese is truly amazing, with ten different choices of cheese for your customizing pleasure. Other houses around the area (in a twenty mile radius) fare no better than the one five miles away from me. I’m slightly jaded, and imposing my issues onto the majority of other shops, but I know some of you can relate.