Coffee Culture and Expectations
What are the presuppositions we bring into a coffee space? The expectation that we will talk to each other is not one that is present in the West. Honestly, the expectation is, give me my very large drink that I need for my day, and then no one talks to me again. To the point where it’s almost like I stand in a coffee space to be loud, right? We from Memphis, you know what I mean? So when we pull up to these screenings or experiences or coffee conferences or we’re coffee crawling, which is a whole thing, we pull up and, you know, us and our interns and the team and the producers we work with, we come in, we have a great time, we probably checking somebody, we pull up, ah, ha, ha, ha, and then everybody turns, you know what I mean? And it’s like, what, you broke the cardinal rule of the shop. You can’t have joy here, you know what I mean? You can’t talk to each other here.
Reimagining the Coffee Space
And so a big part of what we do, what would it look like to build a space where those presuppositions were built into the space, like the indigenous presuppositions are built back in. So nobody has to tell you, this is a space where you can talk. This is a space where you can loiter, like, yes, right. Like, nobody has to, you just do it, right? And that’s programmed into the design of the space.
Reimagining the Coffee Space
And so a big part of what we do, what would it look like to build a space where those presuppositions were built into the space, like the indigenous presuppositions are built back in. So nobody has to tell you, this is a space where you can talk. This is a space where you can loiter, like, yes, right. Like, nobody has to, you just do it, right? And that's programmed into the design of the space.
Merging Cultures and Traditions
But a big part of it was like, again, pulling from these spaces and traditions that we know already kind of signify these kinds of presuppositions and then placing coffee inside of those spaces and shapes. Right. So like our coffee shop, we initially were very clear, like, this is not going to be a shop where the bar is front and center. And there are a lot of small tables with seats. And like, that's not, we're going to build this out to feel like a community. I really, with the design goal, was my grandma, was my auntie's living room. Right. And like, it's the woke auntie who probably be a little crazy at night, but y'all know about that. When she gonna take care of you when you get there, you know what I mean?
Breaking Traditional Quality Markers
And when you go to a coffee shop, the first thing you notice is this large Italian, you know, steaming behemoth in front of you making all this noise. And it's kind of like, I, for a long time, we didn't even have espresso. It was like, that's the colonizer machine. And again, the community has helped me to compromise. I was being an idealist. But like, I'm a man, the first thing I want you to feel is like, take a seat, pull up, man, this for you. I want it to feel like the barbershop, like you pull up and this is a place for us to chop and talk.
The Impact of Blackness in Coffee
Like nobody has had a chance to like really see what coffee looks like for black people. One, black people haven't seen it, but then two, all the people who would benefit from it, right, haven't had a chance to experience that either. And if we look at hip hop, just as an example, the world benefits a lot from black creativity when it is allowed to flourish. And I think that that's just a truth about humanity.
Rituals and Connection: The Coffee Club Experience
I think our, our collective palates are poorer because we haven't allowed for the visibility, the viable visibility of blackness within coffee to really come to the forefront and to grow to maturity. And I think we're creating spaces where that can be seen on a micro level. And the coffee club is one of those spaces where it's like, bro, it's a, yes, you can be loud. Yes. You can laugh. Yes. You can check somebody. Yes. You can be joyful. Yes. Your kids can come. Yes. You can be here. And like, you know what I mean? Be curious and put cream and sugar if you want and nobody bugging, but I am going to ask you to like, hey, try it. Let me know what you think.
Coffee and Society: A Final Thought
And that's what I was thinking about, like how that space, you know, even for me, like I'm visualizing as I've walked into the coffee club and it is a space where it's like, you're going to slow down a little bit. You're definitely not going to do any work there. Not in the way that you would do work in a Starbucks