Guest post: The neighborhood coffee shop


The other day I saw my friend Jen Plants (not Charmington’s Jen, but another Jen altogether) had posted in her blog about neighborhoods, feeling at home, and being happy.  Her post touched on so many of the things we’re trying to do with Charmington’s that I asked her if I could steal it, and she graciously agreed.

She writes, as part of a longer post:

So what are the things that I would need (ideally within walking distance) to make me happy? I want a real list that reflects places I really use that really matter to me. So although, it would be nice to have a dentist I can walk to, since I only go twice a year, I can live with getting in the car or getting on the subway to get there. So, I now present the first item on this list (which is in no particular order!). . .

#1 Thing Every Town Needs:

A Locally Owned, Independent Coffee Shop

It may sound cliche, but I’m happier in neighborhoods where I can walk to get a good cup of coffee from people who live in my community and get to know their customers. I need a place where I can grade papers on a Monday afternoon, grab some caffeine before rehearsals, take Miss Hazel for a snack after a morning at the playground, have a light lunch and a business meeting with a collaborator. . . You get the idea. I just feel like communities without one feel soulless, and Starbucks with their trucked in desserts and generic wall art (rather than the rotating work or local artists) is NOT the same. In fact, Starbucks sucks and its presence often signals the kind of neighborhood I’m trying to avoid.


Wasn’t that nice? (This is Cara again.)   I know she said that her list was in no particular order, but still, #1, right?  We know that opening a for-profit cafe in a neighborhood isn’t any kind of holy mission, but we do feel that being of the neighborhood is preferable to just happening to be located in a neighborhood.

What’s a neighborhood to you?  Is your neighborhood the one where you happen to live, or is their a neighborhood that you consider “yours” even though you sleep or work elsewhere?


One Response to “Guest post: The neighborhood coffee shop”

  1. Jen Says:

    I think your use of prepositions is the key. Starbucks are located IN neighborhoods, businesses that are OF a neighborhood make a place worth living.

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