blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Coffee Culture... what is it?

Last time I asked this question, I went into the esoteric definition of culture. This time, I'll go the other way, by finding words and images that describe coffee culture.

Intelligentsia in Chicago has a nerdy elegance that Tina and Marcie and I loved. The lighting was a little too bright, but they might as well have been serving coffee in beakers and test tubes. Somehow they capture the romance of studying for an exam and how much fun it can be to bond with fellow students while learning. That's a great way to approach life, and this is somehow conveyed in the cafe we visited.

The Dancing Turtle in North Carolina has a scale near their espresso grinder so they can measure tamp pressure. I love this! And they make a great frozen mocha that the barista was able to discuss intelligently.

Red Emma in Baltimore clearly conveys the ownership's point of view; they give union discounts and the books they sell are heavily skewed towards Marxism. They proudly display their artistic inspiration with some very interesting collage installations that gave the place great texture and depth.

All of the great cafes that I have visited have a sense of coziness that is unique to each shop.

Intelligent exploration of the art of coffee.

Creating a place where People Connect and Things Happen.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I agree with you whole heartedly! As my recent move to Erie, PA has proven, there is a distinct LACK of ambience in most coffee shops. I have found one that is sorta close to the Phoenix on Lee - Aromas. However, it lacks the stimulating conversations (politics and religion!) that keeps the blood flowing. There are some students that show up, but the lack of internet connection hinders the learning environment. Unfortunately, they use Crooked River and Green Mountain coffees - not the great blends provided by Phoenix. Oh, how I yearn!!!
Aromas is the only place in Erie that at least provides some semblence of culture - ads for the local Green Party, auditions for the Erie Philharmonic (such as it is), notices of art shows (both of them) and various other insundry events. Erie is not a vast wasteland, it is not big enough to be called vast.
For those of you contemplating a move from Cleveland Hts., you will be hard pressed to find another place like Phoenix. It is truly unique.

John Eckendorf

11:32 AM, November 29, 2005  
Blogger fiatluxpro said...

I agree as well - but more important than the physical atmosphere of the coffee shop is the overall vibe (often emotional) that you get from being in the cafe. For example, look at the difference between the superior Phoenix (where customers and staff interact freely and amiably, where folks are encouraged to come and spend an afternoon working on their computers) and the Caribou down in Coventry (where they charge you to work online, and have signs all around that ask you to please limit your stay to 30 minutes). Who wants to hang around a place that actively asks you to leave?

I can tell you that working at Phoenix for the last 9 months has been a great experience. As a new member of the Cleveland community, I can think of no better way to get a feel for the warm, rich culture of Clevelanders. I think there must be something about the OCD nature of coffee drinkers (same drink, same time, day after day after day) that lets them relax while they're in the cafe and open up to the people around them.

3:20 PM, November 29, 2005  
Blogger bginley said...

My sister lived next to IntelliG in CHitown for nearly 10 years and on sisterly extended trips i spent many hours hanging at the "nerdfarm"...she just moved and i am heartbroken...

8:51 PM, November 29, 2005  
Blogger Lake-front living said...

If you like either the Arabica on E. 185th or Lake Shore Coffee on Lakeshore Blvd....and you love Lake Erie, I have the spot for you. We're selling our house FSBO --

p.s. the muppet quiz rocks.

2:08 PM, November 30, 2005  

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