Why you should care
Cafés have always been about more than just your next caffeine fix. But these hubs of debate and social interaction are shaping themselves into something new.
This is an OZY Special Briefing, an extension of the Presidential Daily Brief. The Special Briefing tells you what you need to know about an important issue, individual or story that is making news. Each one serves up an interesting selection of facts, opinions, images and videos in order to catch you up and vault you ahead.
WHAT TO KNOW
Thanksgiving weekend means enforced togetherness for families across the United States, so you’ll probably have your morning coffee while staring awkwardly at your aunt’s intense crossword puzzling. But cafés around the world are brewing much more than a steaming cup of joe.
We’re not talking about fancy brewing methods, but about the social change percolating in these cafés — from a government bid to stem terrorism in Egypt to the economic barometer of espresso in Kyrgyzstan. OZY’s series on What’s Brewing Next will let you in on what’s really happening at your favorite coffee haunt.
HOW TO THINK ABOUT IT
Piping hot pacifism. Recognizing that young people are often radicalized through discussion and social interaction, Egypt’s trying to fight fire with fire — with the country’s café culture as the battleground. A government program to send moderate clerics into cafés to preach tolerance is the latest plan to combat terrorism … though there’s no guarantee it will make a real difference.
Lend a hand. Deaf culture can often be tough for the hearing to access, but in cafés like 1000 &1 Signes in Paris, deaf owners welcome outsiders into their world, teaching basic sign language to patrons trying to order a glass of wine. It’s just one of a number of businesses that have emerged around the hope of breaking through stereotypes and misconceptions about how deaf people can participate in society at large.
On the right. While hipster coffee shops have long been associated with political liberalism — and chains like Starbucks double down on that with commitments to progressive causes like hiring refugees and veterans — some independent cafés in the U.S. are making their conservative ideology a selling point. Owners of joints like Black Rifle Coffee and Lake City Coffee, for example, let their right-wing flags fly while emphasizing that everyone is welcome.
Drop by drop. While Starbucks-style coffee shops are ubiquitous in the U.S., in Kyrgyzstan they’re anything but. The blooming of café culture in Bishkek is a measure of the former Soviet republic’s progress toward embracing an increasingly outward-looking future. While coffee chains are flourishing, baristas and owners still say they’re struggling with vestiges of a corrupt bureaucracy that demands bribes as the cost of doing business.
WHAT TO READ
In Colombia, Kids Learn Barista Skills, by Andrew Wight for NBC News
“Low coffee prices, climate change and a rapidly aging coffee workforce mean it’s more important than ever to get kids excited and invested in keeping the coffee industry here thriving.”
Paris Bistros Became Symbols of Resilience. But Are They Unesco Worthy? By Claire Mufson in the New York Times
“For many who live in cramped city apartments, the cafes are an extension of home — the living room around the corner, a space both public and private.”
WHAT TO WATCH
The People Who Live in Tokyo’s Net Cafés
“When I go for a drink and miss the last train home, or when I feel a bit lazy, I stay in a net café.”
Watch on The Guardian on YouTube:
London’s Phone Box Coffee Shop
“Without this here, from what I’ve noticed, there is no one place where people can come together and meet and just chit-chat.”
Watch on the BBC on YouTube:
WHAT TO SAY AT THE WATERCOOLER
Get that buzz. You knew we wouldn’t let you leave without at least one coffee-related #ozyfact. Here it is: The most caffeinated nation in the world is actually Finland. Finns drink about three-and-a-half cups of coffee per day on average in what those in the know theorize is a nod to both hospitality traditions and the fact that Finland is really cold.