Friday, August 24

Coffee and Modern Times

And you thought $2 cups of coffee at your local Starbucks was just American Capitalism’s latest extravagant fad? Think again.

According to Jakob Norberg’s brief social history of coffee and coffeehouses published in this week’s edition of Eurozine, the Starbucks phenomenon is actually a maturing of an essential characteristic of Modernity. It is a kind of “third-space.” It is a social center where the “bourgeois” can enter into relationships with one another without the restrictions of family, civil society, or the state. It is a sort of “universal community,” integrated neither “by power nor economic interests, but by common sense.” Indeed, it is “a symbol of Gemütlichkeit, or the bourgeois desire to enjoy undisturbed security.”

Wow. All that and a cup of good java for just a couple of bucks? Maybe its not such a bad deal after all.

Oh, and speaking of Starbucks and the Sociology of Modernity, there is this collaborating tidbit in the most recent edition of Slate. Ron Rosenbaum has served up a venti double-shot espresso of rhetorical flourishes for us all to savor!

5 comments:

Steve said...

Only $2/cup!! More like $4 here in London!
Steve, London

George said...

Steve: With the current value of the Dollar against the Pound, that'd essentially mean $8 a cup for us touristas! That's one sure way for Red Ken to keep London's city center congestion down!

Diane V. said...

Well, forive my ignorance Dr. Grant, but I had to google this word "Gamutlichkeit," to find out its meaning. If it means "the feeling of being at ease, comfortable and at home" and "makes you want to linger, enjoy the company, the surroundings and the good food and drink," then I like this word - a lot. And while I'd like to feel this way not only at a Starbucks but at church too, I find that my soul needs the continual reproof of the Holy Spirit's conviction through the preaching and teaching of God's Word. This rarely feels like that German word. If one can find a church that has a sweet balance of both, then I think they've found something way better than a temporary reprieve at a local Starbucks.
BTW, my Starbucks usual is a grande cafe mocha with nonfat milk, 3 shots of chocolate, & light on the whip cream! If only I could get that at my church!

Austin Bob said...

If anyone has gotten ths far without reading the Slate article, go back immediately and read it!

It was a scream. Thanks for sharing, George.

Jason said...

I think I agree as I thoroughly enjoy the local coffee house. We have almost completed solving the worlds problems and it has only cost us about $100/ year. The drive thru destroys much of greatness of contents of the $2 cup. Plus, Starbuck's doesn't have a thing on my local Buckhead's Coffee