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Coffee Shop Comeback ☕️

Coffee Shop Comeback ☕️
By Ernie Smith • Issue #51 • View online
Why being able to return to a coffee shop after more than a year of pandemic chaos means so much to me.

(Jon Tyson/Unsplash)
(Jon Tyson/Unsplash)
Look, there’s going to be no perfect time in which we can re-embrace normalcy after a pandemic that put us in a difficult situation for more than a year. Your normalcy doesn’t look like mine.
But as I write this outside of a Starbucks (yeah, yeah, I know), in a habitat I once considered natural, I can’t help but feel like we’ve made it pretty far.
The thing is, I once took this experience for granted. Almost every day I would start my day in a coffee shop, treating it as my home base for writing, research, editing, even the occasional meeting. And I mean, I was far from alone in wanted to use coffee shops in this way.
But when the message was sent out into the world—stay away, there’s a pandemic on the loose—I stayed home. It sucked, something I’m sure you’re all aware of. And I took it seriously.
(Matt Hoffman/Unsplash)
(Matt Hoffman/Unsplash)
For as long as I can remember, this experience meant something to me. I can even remember the first coffee shop I embraced as a home base: Milwaukee’s Fuel Cafe, which looked like it was from the ’90s well into the iPod era, and is still around, nearing its 30th anniversary, though it looks nothing like I remember it. I didn’t even have a laptop at that point. I just went there, read the alt-weeklies, and realized that, hey, I might want to hang out in a place like this on the regular. It wasn’t long after I made that realization that I got an iBook. (I paid more than $50 for it.)
There have been many coffee shops in my life—Elliot’s Fair Grounds, a second-floor haunt in Norfolk, Virginia, deserves special mention here—and some had more of a personal touch than others. I’ve been treated like a stranger in the hippest local coffee shops around; I’ve been treated like a friend in the most corporate of chains. I’m a massive coffee nerd; my wife and I once took a trip around Europe trying to discover the best coffee shop we could find (Tim Wendelboe in Oslo, in case you were wondering), and I have all the elements to make a good coffee inside the comfort of my own home. But for some reason, I will eschew all of that just to go to a random coffee shop, sit around, and write for a few hours.
So I guess what I’m saying here is that the fact that I can write this outside of a Starbucks on a Tuesday morning means something to me, especially after more than a year of not being able to do it. (It’s nice, as well, that I finally have a laptop that will last me an entire work day without needing to be plugged in, tamping down on one of the practical frustrations facing a coffee-shop regular.)
I took this pandemic seriously, even if it meant missing out on things that I once took for granted. Even if it meant going a little stir-crazy.
But I think it’s because I knew if we were going to have a return to the normalcy of a coffee shop, we would have to put the time in.
I’m not going to take this for granted anymore.
Related Reads:
Why Coffee Culture Matters
Why Ceramic Coffee Cups Have Rough Spots
Time limit given ⏲: 30 minutes
Time left on clock ⏲: 4 minutes, 28 seconds
If you like this, be sure to check out more of my writing at Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.
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Ernie Smith

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