So, can we please talk about the coffee shop scene as well as those who opt to spend a lot of time there? Also, just so we’re clear — the following musings in this piece are mostly in the context of the pandemic, though some could also apply to the good ol’ pre-pandemic times (*sigh*). After all, pandemic or not, these folks have always been subject to flack for turning coffee shops into their makeshift office, living room, study hall, etc… and therefore, taking up too much space, apparently.
And to that, I say: why is it even an issue? Clearly, this is coming from someone who spent most of her days in coffee shops (back in Metro Manila, before that dreadful day sometime in mid-March 2020), and still makes it a point to visit these places every now and then (the options in my provincial hometown are limited, okay?).
Whether it’s for working, studying, or simply just chilling, coffee shops have always been my favourite kind of place. This is especially true for those situated in standalone locations; may it be a brew-scented oasis amid a bustling business district, a cosy hideout tucked away in a low-key neighbourhood, or something in between. Anyway, without further ado, here are the main reasons why the coffee shop scene deserves more appreciation than it gets — especially in these tumultuous times!
It’s enjoying the outside world, without necessarily putting yourself way too ‘out there’
You ever have those moments when you’re craving some alone time, but don’t like the possibility of feeling lonely? Such is the magic of staying in coffee shops for hours on end. It allows you to savour your solitude while being in a room with other people — some who are probably doing the same.
This is also a plus if you’re someone like me, who enjoys people-watching. I don’t know about you, but every now and then, I tend to just sit and observe the strangers around me and try to guess their life stories. Or, at the very least, what could have possibly brought them to this particular coffee shop. Is it simply because it’s their go-to? Are they waiting for someone else to meet them here? Guess I’ll never know.
It gives a sense of normalcy amidst odd times
Even before the pandemic, coffee shops have always served as third spaces. In a nutshell, it’s that communal space that’s distinct from your home and your workplace: two other spaces whose lines have now been blurred for obvious reasons. So, a third space is essentially where people can gather in public, either to chill alone, spend time with friends, or maybe even meet new people.
In a time when the distinction between home and office have become foggy, the coffee shop scene has, fortunately, remained to be a third space. And in doing so, it offers ‘shelter’ for those seeking a quiet (or at least, seemingly secluded) place away from their home-slash-workplace.
Also, in many other countries, third spaces also come in the form of parks, libraries, and the like. But let’s be real — these aren’t really a thing in most places here in the Philippines, especially in Metro Manila, where the priority is always building more malls, parking lots, and residential buildings. That being said, coffee shops are the closest we have to public parks and public libraries (that are clearly better valued in other countries) as places that are conducive to relaxation and/or focus.
Staying in coffee shops is also a great form of escape
Okay, I’m not here to argue about whether or not leisure travel during a pandemic is worth it. Regardless of where you stand on this ever-present dilemma, the fact remains that our travel options are quite narrowed compared to before; when we could pretty much travel whenever and wherever, as long as our time and money allow it.
So, it only makes sense that, nowadays, we take whatever option we have to ‘travel’ — or to put it more accurately, to escape and unwind in places outside the house. Thank goodness for the coffee shop scene that allows us to do just that. After all, you can always take your pick between those nearby or those that require a slightly longer drive. Either way, we’ll take any form (or level) of adventure that we could get for now!
It’s the least we could do to keep the coffee shop scene alive
Because at the end of the day, those who stay in coffee shops all day are likely an integral part of keeping such businesses afloat (especially those that are run independently). In a time when the F&B industry is far from stable and most of our favourite places could close down at any moment, it’s honestly the least we could do! On that note — am I the only one still traumatised by how many once-buzzing restaurants, bars, and cafés were shut down during the onset of the pandemic?
Anyway, not to sound like that unapologetic capitalist friend, but hey — there’s nothing like supporting your fave coffee shops and helping ’em stay open. Of course, this includes not only the owners, but also the hardworking staff who make sure you get the fresh cup of joe every time you visit! And while there are possibly more ways you can help out, this sure is a good place to start.
And that’s a wrap! Thanks for listening to my TED Talk, folks. (Kidding!)
So, are you looking to (safely) explore more of the coffee shop scene in your area? We’ve got you covered with some of our top recs; from crowd fave destinations like Cebu, Baguio, and Antipolo, to Quezon City and Metro Manila overall. And as always, do remember to keep your face masks on and practise ‘responsible café-hopping’ (read: social distancing).
Until then, stay safe, healthy, and well-caffeinated, everyone.