Ryan Chartrand

Questions, I have many questions. Philosophical questions, existential questions, but mostly, life-altering questions like, “where have all the quality coffeehouses gone?”

Moral questions like, “why dost these people perpetually choose Starbucks whilst ignoring the small fact that it basically is the devil incarnate?” And my personal fav, “will society itself cease to exist if and when the caffeinated teat runs dry?”

From a fundamentally realist point of view, I remain steadfast in my conviction that if it were not for the exploitation of the glorious coffee bean, academia would have been an entirely different proposition. Bedtimes would have shifted, the poisonous tentacles of lethargy would have penetrated our defenses, and we would eventually fall into the stupor of comatose sleep.

Lucky for us all, that is not the case. Caffeine remains the supreme chancellor of energy sources and coffee remains a large unifying force in today’s social interaction among friends. I will gladly explain. If you let your mind wander to the nether regions of TBS syndication, you can almost panoramically envision all those “Friends” episodes flutter by. Case in point: the Central Perk. “Friends” wouldn’t have been friends at all if it wasn’t for their quaint meeting place, the coffeehouse down the street.

From a primarily cultural perspective, coffeehouses have served as hubs of social interaction since their creation in the 16th century. They were, and could be still, a safe and comfortable space where people gather to read, write, and entertain one another without neglecting the likes of that delectable pastry and perfect cup of java.

But smack! Wake up. We don’t live in that world anymore. In the growing age of corporate America, a time when the friendly, neighborhood caf‚ down the street does not have a snowball’s chance in Tartarus of surviving, it seems we have sacrificed that warm fuzzy feeling of contentment on the alter of convenience.

Now that sterile coffee shops have infected every corner of suburbia, we, the people who consider coffee the blood that pulsates through our veins, are forced to downgrade.

Before the rise of the Seattle-based Starbucks chain, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and a deluge of other multi-national coffee corporations that I’ve neglected to mention at this time, we had our very own Central Perks.

Fortunately for us, in the quiet town of San Luis Obispo, we have a few such unicorns left. Let’s see, there’s Linnaea’s Caf‚ on Garden Street, Koffee Klatch on Higuera Street, and my own personal favorite, Uptown Espresso, which, not to confuse anyone, is actually downtown as well.

With these few remnants of what was once the splendor of Parisian, Viennese, and Italian cafes, we now need to reclaim what was once a sophisticated and comforting place where friends met to hang out. We need to undo what has become. We need to bring back the quaint coffeehouse, and we need to do it quickly.

For those of you who are a part of the facebook group, “I drink my coffee through an IV,” this is for you.

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