Blog Post # 3

Hi everyone! In my last post I talked about the benefits that coffee has on the brain and how it helps improve our memory.   We examined the medical results from trials and learned that memory retention/improvement can last up to 24 hours after drinking coffee. (For more information please go to .)

However, in this post we are going to look at coffee shops as tools to build a sense of community. Why is this important?  It is important when you consider the positive impact people can make when they feel a sense of belonging.  When people care for their surroundings and feel a sense of ownership, a foundation for kinship is established when others enter that circle/culture.  Also, connecting to a community helps diminish the chance of loneliness.

At the end of this post we will have some answers and shed some light on the following questions:

  • Why do we feel more at home in one coffee shop than another?
  • What makes us keep coming back on a regular basis?

Not Born Yesterday


So as I sipped my caffeinated beverage in my favorite place, I thought – just how long have coffee shops been around?

Coffee houses were not born yesterday.   (For more information please go to .)  In Environmental Psychology and the Coffee Shop, Lindsay J. McCunn Ph.D revealed that cafes became popular during the enlightenment period around the 17th century in Europe. Great thinkers found it to be well suited for gathering, debating or exchanging ideas.

However, a noticeable change started to take place and it was examined more closely in the article The Social Transformation of Coffee Houses: The Emergence of Chain Establishments and the Private Nature of Usage by L. Waxman.

This study would explore the following in coffee shops:

  • Characteristics that encourage gathering behavior
  • Characteristics that contribute to place attachment (in selected cafes)
  • How these places contribute to social capital by improving their communities (making them known as “third place”)

How the Study Unfolded


This qualitative study included:

  • Observation
  • Research techniques
  • Visual documentation
  • Behavioral mapping
  • Interviews
  • Surveys

Each coffee shop was observed for twenty-five hours for a total of seventy-five hours.

Eighteen interviews were conducted and surveys were collected from 94 patrons to reveal patron attitudes toward the physical and social aspects of the coffee shop as well as their feelings regarding the community in which they live.

The Results / Why We Return


The study found the following:

  • That coffee shops have a positive correlation with peoples’ sense of attachment to their community.
  • Each coffee shop was found to have a unique social climate and culture related to sense of belonging, territoriality and ownership, productivity and personal growth, opportunity for socialization, support and networking, and sense of community.
  • Regarding feelings of community, survey findings from coffee shops patrons showed a positive correlation between length of patronage and their sense of attachment to their community.

Also, we seem to base our choice of coffee shop on these 5 things: cleanliness, appealing aroma, adequate lighting, comfortable furniture, and a view to the outside.

Community and Attachment – My Take Away

In short, our favorite coffee shop makes us feel like we belong.  In turn, that makes us feel good and boosts our self-esteem.  It is our secure place to socialize away from home.  Also, we feel a little territorial attachment to our cafe’ (which is why we get anxious if someone is seated at our usual table by the window, or in our favorite chair).  All of these things however strengthens our ties with our community.


Next Blog Preview

Hopefully, I will have the time to stop by and review an interesting coffee shop that comes highly recommended – Bad Owl Coffee in Henderson.  Of course, I will also continue to explore other coffee (community) benefits and the function of designs/themes.  We will find out how these retail design strategies influence us.

Until next time, here is a video on the espresso technique:


Waxman, L. (2006). The Coffee Shop: Social and Physical factors Influencing Place Attachment. Journal of Interior Design, 31, 35-53.


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