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The Santa Cruz Coffeehouse Experience

April 10, 2010

Will Doeksen & Kelly Williamson of Coffeetopia Westside

Fabulous People’s Coffee Barista-Jesse Clark

There is a change in the community and it’s a good one.  

 Several years ago, my husband and I couldn’t help but notice what appeared to be a  lack of understanding of what it meant to be employed in a service position by the young generation.  A case in point:  We went to a coffee-house, ordered our $3.50 coffee drinks, picked them up from the counter and had a seat.  Tim’s mocha was not heated, great on a hot summer day, but this wasn’t the case.  Okay, so no biggie, things happen.  He heads up to the barista and mentions that his coffee needs to be heated, but instead of responding in a manner which might make the customer feel valued, the worker insists that the drink is hot.  My husband responds by saying that no, in fact it is stone cold and the worker defends by saying again that it is hot and Tim is mistaken.   The phenomenon was one of the many examples of a sad state of affairs which we have come to call, “defense by offense.” 

Lately, I have noticed a complete reversal in this treatment by the young and the employed.  I frequent two great coffee houses, People’s Coffee in Live Oak and Coffeetopia on the West Side.  I go there to drink coffee with my honey, to get some writing done and to feel good doing either of those things.  In both of these establishments, the baristas are not only competent, but friendly and courteous .  What’s more, they genuinely seem to want their customers to have an enjoyable experience, they look you in the eye, make a little conversation, relate on a truly human level.  In short, they get it.  It makes you wonder if this is one of those silver linings about the dismal economy.  I know that any job is difficult to land these days and the degree of pride and personal investment by this new batch of young citizens is not only wonderful and satisfying for those who are purchasing the service, but also inspires hope in the future of our society. 


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