Does your coffee have a mainstream aftertaste?

Independent coffee shops

I stopped by a neighbourhood coffee shop and bakery the other day and was pleased to see it was busy with customers.

It sits across the street from Starbucks and so I worried it might not find a following. It seems we have the space, and the interest, for both places, and for that I am grateful.

That got me to thinking about the difference between hip underground discoveries and mainstream trends, and how sometimes those things can intersect. But does that mean every little cult following will grow up to become a mass marketed item that, most often, loses its cool factor?

Perhaps the poster child of this phenomenon are Starbucks coffee houses. First they were the Pacific Northwest star, creating an interest around coffee that rose to almost a cult level.

In the beginning, Starbucks had some unique qualities beyond the coffee – like the music they played. They developed their own label and produced CDs that had a unique feel. An underground trend was born that created another buzz besides the coffee.

As the popularity of Starbucks increased and their locations expanded to almost every corner, the music, like everything else, became more mainstream and less unique. Enter the concept of pleasing everyone all the time, or is it catering to the lowest common denominator?

I suppose you can take solace in knowing there are those big box concepts now in many industries and in a way, they allow little places to exist just by being so mundane.

As long as there are people like you and I who want some variety in life, who want to be excited and surprised at least once in a while, then there will be little corner coffee shops that still play unheard-of music and have local art on the walls.

Maybe the place we go to will be bought out by Starbucks, but in its place, around the corner, a new one will spring up. It’s just like the forces of nature that bring the swallows back to Capistrano, it is the way of the world.

As we get older, we tend to wax nostalgic and pine for things the way they were. Perhaps this kind of thing is a lesson to us—we shouldn’t look back but rather look forward. Don’t pine for the old coffee shop that “grew up,” look for the new one that has opened and support its efforts to be cool and unique.

If we can remember not to grow old but to keep some of the youthful magic that allows us to enjoy quirky things, then some of those little places wouldn’t have to grow up and be the same as all the others. Or am I being too idealistic?

Share those gems you find. Independent places rely on loyal customers helping them to promote their unique offerings. It’s one of the things I love about the Okanagan, is that word-of-mouth is still a powerful tool.

That cool coffee place on the Westside? It’s called Two Donkeys

Please let me know about your discoveries by sending an email or sharing on my Happy Gourmand Facebook page. I promise to try each one.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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