Coffeehouses like Starbucks, Coffee Bean, Tully’s and many more are what most urbanites would define as the ‘Third Place‘. I learned that term while I was taking a module called ‘Living in Contemporary Cities’. It describes such places where people socialize and have a sense of place within a community, providing a third venue outside their home and workplace. It is also a place for active discussion of various topics among different groups of people. Whether you are just buying coffee to study for your midterms, of catching up with old friends, or meeting up with potential clients, places like coffeehouses are places where information are shared in person. It is also a place where ideas are generated, collaborators meet , and knowledge gained not from books or the Internet, but through other people.
As I sit quietly reading my lecture notes, I observe other people and their relationship to each other. There are other people like me studying, groups of friends in their laptops editing their presentation slides, businessman and businesswoman meeting up with clients to discuss (I presume ) business, middle age men and women with their notebooks and pen jotting down stuff. Old friends catching up on the latest happenings and gossips. The list goes on.
Amongst all, coffeehouses in my opinion are essential for one thing: the exchange of information and the collisions of ideas. Have you ever thought that the main sitting next to you scribbling in his little notebook could possibly be coming up with the next great social media website or killer app for smartphones? Or how about the lady next to you refining her slides to prepare for her company project presentation where millions of dollars are at stake? Or how about a group of friends on the opposite side of the table who are in active discussion, planning there itinerary for their next trip to Cambodia to help rural villages? That man in the corner could be writing his latest research findings that could improve that could improve the lives of many.
Coffeehouses provide a stimulating ‘third place’ away from the stresses of workplaces at same time bringing the comforts of a home so that ideas can flourish and grow. Even as I write this, I had this ‘what if’ idea while I myself was sitting quietly doing my own revision. Therefore, the next time you need that light bulb in your head lit, or stroke of inspiration, try heading down to the coffeehouses once in a while. Soak in the atmosphere, relax your mind, and contemplate on the problems that you are facing. You might be able to find a solution there.