J. J. Hanna © 2023
The older I’ve gotten, the more at home I feel in coffee shops and cafes. There’s something distinctly comforting about the constant hums of machinery, the smells of freshly ground and brewed coffee beans, and the atmosphere of groups of strangers sharing intimate moments.
The environment itself is welcoming, the spirit of the building beckoning you in to the smile of a barista and the sounds of humanity breathing in that most vital space of community. Even those of us who arrive alone and pull out our laptops, fingers clacking on the keys as we record our thoughts, our dreams, our hopes; as we research for school or work or interest alone; as we work and pour into our futures in ways none can comprehend but us; even we are made to be in community by nature of the building.
You learn a lot about a person by what they order at a coffee shop. You learn a lot about what kind of stranger they are by how they interact with the person behind the counter. Whether they smile back, whether conversation extends beyond the giving of their order, whether the barista knows them by name or whether they’re new to coffee and don’t know what they want.
There is something distinctly human about a gathering place like this, where strangers share space and where, in an odd remnant of older iterations of society, a stranger may still approach and ask to share your table.
A camaraderie and a family stems out of the meeting of strangers rhythmically at the same coffee shop. Every week, every day, the same people walk through those doors and even if they never interact, they all have that one place in common. That rhythm that accompanies ritual, that draw to return where the people know your name.
I wrote about this a while, what feels like forever, ago—the differences and desires to know and be known, to go where you’re anonymous and to go where there is no such thing as a stranger.
Both are beautiful. Both are needed.
The distinct whir of the coffee grinder, of the steam wand’s clicks and hiss in short bursts followed by the knocking of the metal milk pitcher on the counter as the barista removes the bubbles to make the steamed milk smooth before they pour–these are all sounds of home. These are all sounds that say, “You are welcome here. Come and stay a while. Take off your coat, sit at our table, and linger in one of the best spaces of humanity.”
This content belongs to J. J. Hanna alone and is not to be duplicated or reprinted without express permission.
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J. J. Hanna is a writer and reader from Colorado. She loves suspense stories above all else, and is currently working on a debut novel of her own. When she's not writing, you can find her making YouTube videos and Online Courses about the publishing industry. Go find her on social media @authorjjhanna to keep track of her most recent reads, current adventures, and to get the most up-to-date news on all things publishing.