Brewing Culture

The Coffee Shop Appeal

By Leziga Barikor

Coffee shops and coffee have become nearly synonymous to American culture. Coffee shops or cafes have actually grown to be known as the “Third Place” according to a study done in the Journal of Foodservice Business Research. This means for many people, after home and their workplace, coffee shops are the third most important place for them.

For many college students at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), they don’t need to go far to find their third place. Sidecar Coffee located on the College Hill offers that service to them. But proximity is rarely the defining factor in whether or not people find enjoyment in a coffee shop.

Hospitality and coffee are closely connected whether it is at home or in a commercial setting according to the book “Coffee Culture, Destinations and Tourism” by Lee Jolliffe.

Jolliffe states that coffee offered to company and the informal nature of coffee shops, coffee houses and cafes all lends itself to the idea that coffee is connected to hospitality.

The first coffee house created dates back to Constantinople in 1534 but became popularized in the 17th and 18th centuries. The major historical and political ramifications of coffee houses in London and Paris still marks the nation today. While coffee shops have evolved through the decades, Jolliffe notes that the hospitality side of it has always stayed present.

Besides coffee, modern cafes include other amenities that foster a hospitable environment. In the study from the Journal of Foodservice Business Research, they identified four key elements to a good coffee shop which are: atmosphere, employee attitude, IT service and taste.

Atmosphere

On Wednesday, Feb. 13 two UNI students went on their very first date at Sidecar.

Seniors Trey Hitchings, a construction management major, and Sarah Koski, a psychology and criminology major, sat at a two person table and got to know one another.

Hitchings said he chose Sidecar because it was simple. The two met through mutual friends. Hitchings also noted the need for coffee during the mid-day.

A coffee shop is a casual and comfortable environment which can make it an ideal location for couples to meet for the first time.

Coffee Date

Sidecar barista and UNI sophomore elementary education major Meredith Luke has seen many coffee dates.

“I think very much the environment has a huge effect on it,” Luke said. “It’s also really close to campus, so it’s an easy way to get here.”

Luke has worked at Sidecar since August 2018, and she has visited the coffee shop herself prior to working there.

Luke describes the atmosphere of Sidecar as friendly, welcoming and “chill.”

“Everyone I see [on coffee dates] it seems like the people walk out pretty content and happy,” Luke said.

Dates are just one way coffee shops can be used by customers, but there are many more reasons people choose to visit one.

Luke said she has seen people go to Sidecar for interviews, just hang out or do homework.

IT Services/ Technology

Friends Hailey Gross and Darcy Bertolino spend an afternoon catching up with life together. Gross is a senior art education major, and Bertolino is a junior journalism and exercise science major.

They were one example out of many where friends meet up at Sidecar to spend time together and/or get homework done.

This is where modern coffee shops have the responsibility of providing good technology services which includes WiFi services, computer and phone outlets and desk space.

WiFi or Internet access has become a necessary service for coffee shops and several studies cited in the article published in the Journal of Foodservice Business Research, concluded that it enhanced service quality. Customers of coffee shops and restaurants reacted more positively to stores that provided free WiFi.

Employee Attitude

Customer service is one of the key elements to any business venture and that is especially the case for coffee shops. The barista is the face of the coffee shop, so how customers receive their interactions with them is crucial when deciding whether or not they will return again.

The study done validated research cited that positive employee attitudes affected the customer satisfaction.

Patrons to Sidecar Coffee appear to be fortunate in the area of employee attitude.

The workers are genuinely some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met in life.

Meredith Luke, barista

“The workers are genuinely some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met in my life,” Luke said. “Honestly, I love them so much. They make coming to work so much more enjoyable and fun.”

Luke said she also enjoys the management Sidecar is under, and she had one of her favorite moments at the store as an employee.

“We did this thing called ‘Palentines,’ it’s like celebrating Valentines, but as pals,” Luke said. “It’s close to a gift exchange.”

According to Luke, in this all staff event, people pulled names out of a hat and bought corresponding gifts for the person whose name was chosen.

“It was just a lot of fun because we were able to come together as co-workers and enjoy being with each other,” Luke said.

Taste / Coffee Quality

The final key element to any successful coffee shop is the taste. When coffee is the main menu item of the establishment, it needs to be done right.

“I know a lot of people like the coffee. That’s what they’ve told me,” Luke said. “That’s why they like coming here.”

“I know a lot of people like the coffee. That’s what they’ve told me,” Luke said. “That’s why they like coming here.”

The study showed that the higher the coffee quality the higher the levels of customer satisfaction were at the coffee shop.

Brewing Hospitality

The contemporary cafe culture is recent to this century, but the $8 billion industry did not grow over night.

Wherever people have gathered to share coffee whether it was in a house or in a store, the aura of hospitality followed. This model for success first grew in booming Constantinople and followed traders to Europe.

One of the main selling points that keeps the coffee shop industry in motion is actually its diversity.

This is diversity in mode. Coffee shops are useful to students who need a caffeinated place to study. But they also provide good neutral ground for meetings and dates. And for the early morning commuter, they have the caffeine and bakery items needed to properly start the day.

Brewing Culture

The diversity in purpose to coffee shops keeps people coming in and out of the doors. Whether someone is searching for a place to stop and meet a friend or hears about one word of mouth, coffee shops draw the audiences who need them.

The culture surrounding coffee actually transcends American culture and connects the broader global community. Coffee shops may very well be the universal spot to show hospitality.

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