Too much coffee?

The headline says "A cup of coffee on every corner" and I don't think they're far off. One of the newest additions will be in the building between Franklin and Rosemary Streets right before they merge into East Main Street. So far it seems the only unique thing they have to offer is wireless internet access (whouch should be a no-brainer for any business that wants people to hang out there). There's also a new coffeeshop hiding in the Courtyard that I didn't know about and of course another Starbucks is on the way.

So what do you think - how many coffeeshops can southern Orange County hold? How much is too much coffee?

Issues: 

Total votes: 318

Comments

Apparently only slightly more than the number of Mexican/Southwest restaurants. After reading the coffeeshop article Sunday, I came up with a list of 12 Mexican restaurants off the top of my head.

As someone who doesn't drink coffee, and therefore differentiates among local coffee establishments based on non-coffee attributes, to say that Open Eye and Starbucks are competing establishments is funny to me.

I avoid Starbucks on principle, and avoid Open Eye at night because the live music and small space makes it too hard to hold a conversation without feeling like you're insulting the performer.

Since it's another option within walking distance, I'm looking forward to the new place opening in Carrboro. Here's hoping they serve hot chocolate and cider.

Does that include the UNC campus coffee shops as well? A new shop will be opening in the Health Sciences Library very soon.

Am I missing something? I wasn't aware there was any really good coffee shop on Franklin St. Starbucks is awful--I'm always puzzled how a business with such a poor, overpriced product stays alive, let alone thrives. There are two Caribou coffeeshops--neither of which has anything very good or special to eat. Create a nice atmosphere, bake (or find) some decent pastries, put some art on the walls, and you'll have an establishment that is unique in Chapel Hill. Maybe Jack Sprat will do the trick.

BTW, I often go to the Caribou on Franklin and Estes out of convenience (when, oh when, are we going to get some food establishments up here by Blue Cross?)--its parking lot is frequently filled to overflow capacity in the morning.

Steve, Driade is on Franklin Street and they do a pretty good job. If they had wifi, I'd spend a lot more time and money there.

This topic reminds me of one of my favorite headlines from The Onion: "Starbucks Opens Store In Lobby Of Another Starbucks".

As far as having WiFi in a coffee house it is a difficult business decision. While it attracts customers it also makes them hang out longer and take up seats for other customers . That can make it "so crowded no one goes there anymore". I mean how many cappuchinos can you drink in three hours? I think that is why the owner of the Eye and Driade do not have WiFi.

But more coffee shops? See my other posts on the sickness of "growth sickness" that has infected both carrboro and chapel hill.

Steve,

Every quality you look for can be found over at Cup-A-Joe in Timberlyne, right between the Chelsea and Oscar's pool hall. They roast in-store, have great prices (a 20-oz coffee runs $1.50), display art works from a different LOCAL artist each month on their walls (in December they had a local photographer's prints up, and they also had a display where you could buy hand-knit scarves and hats made by one of the baristas), have a cool industrial-deco vibe, a community newspaper rack with free copies of the N&O, H-S, and CHN for customers to read in-store), free biscuits for people bringing along their dogs, plenty of seats inside and out, and they also sell a variety of baked goods delivered each day from a LOCALLY-OWNED bakery.

I know this sounds like a plug, and it is, but it if people are sick of the fly-by-night coffee shops homogenizing the area, please support the local ones that care about the community and invest in it.

- Nick

sadly, both cup-a-joe and driade suffer because of their "drive-to-get-there" locations (for me at least). nick does cup-a-joe have wireless internet?

I don't know if cup-a-joe has wireless internet, but they do have lots of cool fun people to talk to and happy dogs to pet while you sip your latte.

The new coffeeshop that Rudy said is "hiding in the Courtyard" is called 3 Cups. The name probably isn't that important, because there is no way they'll be around for more than 3 months. The coffee is great, but expensive ($1.75 per cup), and no espresso drinks of any kind.
The focus is on "single-estate" gourmet coffee, but it's from Counter Culture, which is where every other coffee shop gets their coffee from (if they don't have their own roaster).
It's just too bad, because the location is good (but hidden), the inside is very nice, and they have a patio.

Tony P. is right on the money! The number of cheap burrito places in CH is astounding. The number hovers somewhere between 10 and 15, usually around twelve. And not a real donut shop around! Where are the creative restrauteurs?

While we're griping about local food and drink, might I add that it's nothing short of outrageous that the nearest Dairy Queen is 18 miles away? With all of these dumb burrito joints and coffee shops every six or seven paces, you'd think we could get some decent soft ice cream here.

I agree Eric. My parents just retired to Carrboro from up north and they really love DQ and there are none close that I know of.

I'd also love to have a Jewish deli in town. I miss great matzo ball soup and those great big crunchy pickles!

While we are really griping about local food and drink...

What is it going to take to get some civic and political pressure on Lone Star Steakhouse to do something with/about the Wicked Burrito building? Beyond being an eyesore, it is still a prime location for a business in Chapel Hill.

Well, since someone had to bring up DQ, I had to comment again. I practically grew up on DQ, and I was convinced it was the best soft-serve around, until I was in St. Louis and went to Ted Drewe's Frozen Custard, which is to DQ like Godiva is to Hershey. What does this have to do with Orange County? Well, a few years ago there were numerous news stories about a frozen custard outlet opening next to Elmo's in Carrboro. But it never came into being, and instead, there is a brick patio with crappy steel benches.

So, I ask again, where are the creative restaurateurs? A frozen custard place would be great.

I second the motion on the kosher deli. I've even batted around the idea of getting it going myself. (I've got killer recipes and methods for new, half-sour, 3/4 sour, sour pickles and pickled green tomatoes.)

There is, in fact, no kosher deli in the Triangle area, according to some of the main suppliers of kosher food products that serve the Southeast. (I did a story some years back.) There are some caterers, and of course, something like 60% of American processed food is now certified kosher (Fritos, Milky Way bars, and so on), but there's no true deli in the area.

The deli that most resembles a New York-style deli (or, as the owner would insist, a "Long Island" style deli, and he would know, being a g'Islander himself) that I know of is J&J's Deli, also in Timberlyne, right around the corner from Cup-a-Joe and a half-dozen stores down from Margaret's.

d

Justin,

Sorry for the late response, but yes, Cup-A-Joes does have wi-fi for its customers.

- Nick

There's another coffee shop slated to go into the new "Rosemary Village" development according to this article in the Chapel Hill News (strangely subtitled "Creativity and affordability are the watchwords in development for 2005" in spite of the fact that it seems to focus mainly on $2-800,000 homes).

Duncan, I don't suppose you'd wanna part with any of those scrumptious sounding pickle recipes would ya?

I've never had a new pickle, but after reading the "Pickle Predicament" essay, we were left with mouths watering!

Please feel free to open a kosher deli (or help me talk someone else into it) nearby and I promise to patronize daily!

Also, I live near and have been to J&J's. Good, but not what I grew up with in Pittsburgh & D.C., and experienced in New York, although I am sure each deli is quite different.
Cheers,
T

Here's your chance...

So I found myself saying a couple months ago that I was very dissappointed in all of the coffee shops in the downtown area not having WiFi (a major mistake, if you ask me). I understand the trade-off of getting business but having people sit there for hours on end, and nonetheless I can't see missing that opportunity to bring in business.

Therefore, I am looking into my options for opening MY OWN place in the downtown area (probably on East Franklin) where amongst other things people can come sit and use the internet. I plan on this place having a "lounge" sort-of atmosphere, but as there are already more coffee-shops in this area than I think necessary, I will probably not make this place a full-fledged coffee bar. Perhaps I'll offer a couple different cups of coffee.. an esspresso, hot chocolate, etc... but not more than, say, 10 coffee drinks total. My question to you is, what would YOU like to see sold in such a place?
I'm already doing this in conjunction with an online music retail business that I own, so if nothing else, this place will give me publicity, but I have to at least break even. What should I sell?

Aaron,
As I suggested in my earlier post, donuts.

Now, I know all the low-carb diet people say donuts are bad, and they are right. But, the other coffee bars already have croissants, pain-au-chocolate, and bagels, and who really needs a healthy addition to a cup of liquid caffeine with sugar and cream? So, you'd be the only guy in town with the perfect addition to a cup-o-joe, the glazed donut.

Of course, you'd have to watch your p's and q's, because where there are donuts, there are policemen.

Good luck!

Being somewhat of a snob, I thought I might toss in my 2 cents. ;-)

I'm actually welcoming a new coffee joint in Carrboro. I love Open Eye and am there probably 4 nights a week, but that's really the only good coffee in the Carrboro area. Although their service is generally mediocre at best, their coffee is usually outstanding. Cup-A-Joe and Caffe Driade have just bad espresso (which is odd, since Beth Justus owns both Open Eye and Driade). In my mind, they're a step above Starbucks and Caribou because they're local, but their espresso really is only suitable for milk-based drinks. I haven't tried 3 Cups yet, but sounds good even though there's no espresso. I think Chapel Hill's coffee scene is well summed-up by the quote

“Sure, there are a lot of coffee houses around here, but not a lot of good coffee houses,” she said. “You've got places with mediocre atmosphere and an inferior product; other places with great atmosphere and a mediocre product.”

As for the ice cream topic, as a long-time manager of Goodberry's, I can tell you that frozen custard is the real deal. (Although I have my disagreements with that specific company.) I'm not a soft ice-cream fan, particularly that crap DQ makes, but Cold Stone and Ben & Jerry's are both excellent, and the Yogurt Pump is good and cheap.

And I haven't walked by the old Wicked Burrito once and not said something about that place.

What I'm about to say is going to blow some of your uber-antiestablismentarian minds. I think Starbucks has the best coffee (out of all the coffee places i've been too) in Chapel Hill. There, I said it. I love the atmosphere at Open-Eye, but the coffee sucks in my opinion (especially the lattes). I cannot stand Caribou Coffee. The plain coffee is palatable, but their mixed coffee drinks are horrible. Strongs/whatever it's called now was bad when it was Strongs, haven't checked up on it since.

Matt

I've lived all over the Triangle and I have to say my favorite places to "have" coffee are Caffe Driade and Francesca's in Durham. But, Weaver Street in Southern Village is a great place to have coffee and the coffee shop there - La Vita Dolca or something like that is a good place too.

But, my all time favorite? Pleasant Morning Buzz (best coffee made anywhere) in my own backyard. So, you see I'm easy to please.

Caffe Driade just added Wi-Fi, although its not free. The cost is something like $3.50 per month, $6 or $7 per hour, or $13 per month.

I think the evaluation of Driade's espresso as "bad" is a huge misnomer.
Without a doubt, this fantastic coffee shop has the best espresso in Chapel Hill. The only place I've had better is in large metropolitan cities like Montreal, and even in places like that, as we all know, the espresso is hit or miss.

((Let me emphasize: If you live in a large, metropolitan city, yes I do think you can find better places than Driade - but Driade is the best in the small town of Chapel Hill and, I think, would shine even in a large city))

Driade is an absolute gem in Chapel Hill - it's espresso is, in fact, delicious, and the scene is both hip and serene - perhaps a bit pretentious, I won't lie, but only if you let it bother you. The staff is charming, especially once you get to know them. You might be put off by some of the people that work there, but once you get to know even those that seem a little prickly, everyone is enjoyable to be around.

Also, I'm posting this from Driade, they DO now have wireless.

3 Cups is great, I think the 2nd best coffee shop in Chapel Hill (tied with Open Eye? I think it's at little better.) Great coffee, great tea, and a great selection of desserts and bread from Weaver Street, a pleasant departure from the standard Guglhupf / Sweet Janes ring. It's behind Penang on the corner of Franklin and Robeson, so it's decently accesible.
The only negatives are an echo-full interior and the poor hours - they close at 6:00 pm, I believe, and are, for the moment, closed on Sundays.
The lack of espresso doesn't really qualify as a negative, as their food and french press coffee / tea selection is really great. They also carry a large selection of fine chocolates, and their jam is great; and, interestingly, they carry sheep's milk yoghurt - a little strong for me in the plain flavour, but I've heard the maple flavour is much more forgiving.

All in all, both 3 Cups and Driade are great places for coffee. 3 Cups is a lot more accesible as far as location and the really comfortable setting / employees - but if you want internet access, a really fun place to hang out and experience an interesting and exciting night/evening scene, or if you want some high quality espresso, Driade is without a doubt *th* cafe to visit in Chapel Hill.

Hello;
I and my wife own Padgett Station - that new place in Carrboro. Just wanted to let you know what we have and have not.

Have:
Fair Trade Organic Shade-grown coffee and espresso (forte, dolce, decaf)

Organic Wines (red, white, champagne, mead)

Fair Trade, Organic, whole-leaf teas (stored and steeped in glass at the proper temperatures)

Organic, house-made Chai

Organic Belgian chocolates and truffles

Organic and sustainably-farmed artisan cheeses

Organic crumpets with eighteen choices of toppings both savory and sweet

Fruit Frappe, Lhassi

Organic, proprietary blend, frozen coffee drinks

Organic juices

Italian sodas

Exceptional service

Beautiful atmosphere

Have not:
Pastries

Decaf coffee

Wifi

We look forward to your visit,

Emmett Fahringer

I WANT to go to Three Cups and to Padgett Station. Every time I pass by, I remember that I want to go. But I need an introductory lure, such as half price for senior citizens on Wednesdays, or 20% off from 4:00 to 6:00 for people wearing purple.
Marketing will get me there for my first visit and I will become a fan; inertia will delay me. I finally got to Queen of Sheba near Crooks Corner (Seeds of Sheba?) last night and loved it.
Weaver Street's wi-fi area is large and allows plenty of room for people to camp out. Space is of the essence.
Cafe Driade is One of a Kind, and fun to walk up to from the trails behind it. Wi-fi is not on my mind when I go there.
De-caf coffee is a whole (n)other topic.

As for Pickles and Kosher Delis; Duncan, would you consider a Pickle Parlor, with multi-varieties of pickles and pickle-making workshops? It's cucumber season (bring your own?); now's the time/seize the season? Pickles and Ice Cream? There's a folkloric connection to that combination. Think "Cravings".

No Wifi, no WillR ;-)!

Actually, I've been meaning to drop in and try the coffee. I'd thought you were suppose to have Wifi - did you decide against it for the same reason 3-cups has?

Wifi makes an excellent tool for luring customers - especially for a new business. In this case I feel that Wifi could be a blessing for our opening Summer and a curse thereafter.
A growing trend in highed-end cafes is to shun Wifi or remove existing Wifi.
My favorite "case-in-point" is a guest who has visited us at least four times. She argued that because another local coffee house has Wifi "she is loyal to them and always tips the baristas". Here's what I see: she parks at that coffee house for numerous hours doing work; she tips the baristas (almost irrelevant to cafe owner); and then she proves her "loyalty" to that coffee house by coming to our cafe with her husband where they both have a pleasant, maybe beautiful experience, imbibing superior teas without any correlation between Padgett Station and work. Little did she know that she apllied the final nail to Wifi's coffin.

Addendum:
Although we do not offer decaf drip we do offer the decaf americano (decaf espresso and filtered water). As a supertaster, I believe decaf drip to be lacking. I can actually drink and enjoy an entire cup of our decaf americano.
If flavored coffee is to your liking we can add .5 oz of any of our all-natural flavored syrups or .5 oz of our house-made caramel.

thank you,

Emmett Fahringer

p.s. Definitely visit http://www.padgettstation.com to get a glimpse of our specialties and cafe interior.

I stopped by Padgett Station today and got a cup to go. It was great. Don't know that it was any better than Open Eye, but it was great regardless. Very different (more upscale) atmosphere.

Nice to hear you don't care if customers tip your employees, Mr. Padgett Station! I will continue to walk right by your business and go to Weaver Street Market when I want caffeine and/or wifi.

Ruby, isn't that a bit harsh? And a bit of a deliberate twisting of his words? Mr. Fahringer was simply talking about customer habits and how it affects his business and in turns of his business, he never sees any of the tip money so it has no effect on his business. In other words, tips are "almost irrelevant to cafe owner"...

I'm not so sure I'd want to work for an employer who considered part of my income irrelevant. It seems to me that tips would be a good indicator of a healthy business. I choose my coffee source just as much by the service I am given as the end result, and it seems like the kind of establishment that wouldn't generate tips probably also wouldn't generate as much business.

I used to work (and still work part time) for an entertainment rental company that often sets up various attractions at festivals and other attractions. My boss would always joke that when I start getting offered tips, either I'm doing a good job or they've started serving alcohol. Wouldn't a correlation between tips and the service level provided, combined with a correlation between service level and revenues indicate business owners probably should care if their employees are getting tipped?

No doubt, I would certainly agree that tips (frequency and size) are a very good indicator of the service your employees are providing. However, as I think Mr. Fahringer was trying to indicate, if someone parks in his shop all day and drinks one cup of coffee but then leaves a very generous tip, that's not going to keep him in business. In the customer's mind, I can even see, you could consider the tip as "rent" (I hung out in your shop for 3 hours and used your wifi so i'm going to stick 3 bucks in the jar), but none of that money goes to the bottom line...

Strong's suffered from the park-n-free-ride problem though I don't know how much that contributed to its closing.

yeah will, I wish no Ill to Jack Sprat but it's the third coffee shop in the same store front in a row. They must be mighty optimistic. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a differant result. Does anyone remember "barrel of fun"?

Frankly, I've got a mixed view on the tipping thing. I've been a cook for a quarter century and seen very little tip money. I think empolyers should pay people what they deserve and customers shouldn't feal they have to tip. Yeah if a wait is getting $2.15 per hour they deserve the tip. If you get sirvice beyond what you expect then tip. If you want to be extra nice, tip. If you expect to make a living wage in food sirvice you might want to switch off the de-caff

Damn, I dropped more quarters than I care to remember at the "Barrel of Fun". After their demise, I was left with "He's Not..." and "The Cave" as the only places to play pinball. And now that pinball is so passe, the machines are never kept in good condition.

As far as tipping, if you eat out in Chapel Hill for any length of time you'll begin to recognize the floating opera of wait staff moving too and fro from one joint to another. And as you begin to recognize them, I have a feeling they'll begin to recognize you.

Thank you Bill Oliver for understanding my points. I was speaking of the "cafe owner" as a whole. Actually I regularly voice to my employee that the correlation between total ticket sale, customer satisfaction, employee morale, business survival, and tip/gratuity are integral. In fact I encourage my employees to be "tip-making-machines" - with a human element of course. So far employment at Padgett Station has proven lucrative for our baristas considering that we pay an over-average base and the house does not take a portion of the tips even though the owners are on staff at all-times. The tip jar reflects the work of three but is split between two employees.
I'm confident that Padgett Station will soon be the first-choice employer for high-spirited, qualified baristas.

Thank you for your time,

"Mr." Padgett Station aka Emmett Fahringer

p.s. Again I am reminded that the lack of human contact leaves tremendous room for misinterpretation. Wifi perpetuates the removal of the "human element". I will consider this the final scoop of dirt on the Wifi coffin at Padgett Station.

Are cell phones banned?

Thanks for your clarification on tips.

You, of course, have the ultimate decision on the Wifi issue. I'm a customer, not a business owner, so I can't pretend to decide whether or not it would be more profitable for you to go one way or another. But I do know what I look for in a coffeehouse, and that's a place where I can get a good cup of joe, sit down, relax, and do whatever kind of work I feel the most inclined to. This might be something fun, like reading the paper or OP, or something slightly less entertaining like studying, writing a paper, or going over my planner. Some of these things necessitate my computer and some do not, but given two otherwise equal establishments, the one that allows me to do the most will likely draw my patronage.

Either way, as I'm quite capable of brewing coffee myself, the decision comes down to which coffee-serving-establishment is going to make me feel the most comfortable and allow me to get done what I need to (or want to). I won't make an ultimate pick by those criteria, because I do visit a lot of different places in Chapel Hill / Carrboro on a regular basis. Wifi alone isn't enough to draw me into a place, but it might keep me coming back.

As to the subject of cell phones, I'm not sure. What I've noticed about cell phones in Padgett Station:
annoying rings left sometimes unanswered; line of guests held-up by person with cell phone at point of sale; usually pleasant guest suddenly unpleasant because they're not multi-tasking effectively and are clearly annoyed that a staff member, in trying to take their order, is interrupting their phone conversation; raised speaking volume into receiver coupled with pacing about the room (I'm a pacer when talking on the phone so I get it).
I'm rather protective of my staff so when I see them being disprespected in any way related to cell phones I start picking the cell phone burial plot next to Wifi.
There is certainly no shortage of pre-made "Cell phone free" signs available online. I guess there is a market.

Yes list: smoking, pets on leash, and cell phones in patio area

No list: Wifi

Pending: cell phones indoors

J.B. and all,
Before doing my time in L.A., I spent ten years in Marin County California (north of the Golden Gate Bridge) in the pre-Wifi days. I lurked at places such as Lansdale Station, Cafe Nuovo, San Anselmo Coffee Roasters and Fairfix. In common these place had human interraction. Sometimes the conversations were deep - sometimes not-so-deep - but at least people were communicating with each other. Padgett Station has a European espresso bar atmosphere in which I would like recapture this feel. Our vision is of a meeting place for for friends and strangers alike. When the room fills with guests I notice that the fewer computers and cell phones the more interraction between guests both familiar and strange.
In the long run this will contribute to our identity. When asked "if I'm worried about so much competition in the area" my stock reply is "What competition? No one else in the area offers what we do - all Fair Trade, Organic, Shade Grown coffee; a 95+% Organic menu; limited table service; a slew of house-made specialties including caramel, chocolate syrup and lemon curd; three kinds of espresso; an elegant setting . . . " They're probably sorry they asked. Luckily for them I speak very fast - especially after imbibing our Forte espresso.

Have to be at Padgett Station in 4.5 hours. By the way I told myself that I would never get involved with sites like this. Never say never.

Emmett Fahringer

Yes, this site, unlike maybe your mile European-blends, is a strong cup of American Joe - with all its attendant earthy tones and flavorable nuances.

Great stuff for waking up, maybe a little shocking for some palates.

Emmett,

Once the Chapel Hill wireless initiative gets up and running, there's a good chance your customers will have wifi access without you having to pay for it. The coverage will run down to Merritt Mill and across into the Northside and Pine Knolls neighborhoods. I imagine Carrboro will eventually extend their coverage up to Merritt Mill also as part of the downtown traffic project/ArtsCenter expansion.

Yes, it's just a matter of time before the Wifi spreads our way. I'm looking forward to the ArtsCenter expansion. The lower-east side (as coined by Sizl Gallery) is coming-up. Glad to be here for it.

EF

So, I thought that in all fairness I would visit Padgett Station this afternoon to give it an assessment based on the criteria I set out above: my ability to get stuff done in a cool and comfortable environment.

The coffee (I had a frozen mint mocha) was superb. You win on that front. Your baristas seemed friendly and capable. And I certainly appreciate the commitment to fair trade and organic coffees.

I agree - you do have a European atmosphere when compared to some other area coffee houses, but this was mostly conveyed by the interior design, rather than the "human element." There were about eight people besides myself there when I went by at 4:00, and perhaps six to ten other people cycled through in the time I was there. With the exception of one couple which had a lengthy conversation the baristas who were obviously prior friends, the majority of the folks there were doing exactly what I was: reading and/or writing. Whether a novel, a newspaper, a notebook, or a magazine, people were sitting there and reading, most for a substantial length of time (about half the folks who were there when I came were still there twenty minutes later when I left). My question for you, I suppose, is how would the scene be different if they were reading/writing from a digital platform rather than a paper-based one?

The Wifi argument aside, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Padgett Station because, with the exception of computer work (my laptop got left at home for other reasons), I was able to sit, enjoy my coffee, collect my thoughts, and get some reading and writing knocked out.

Hello,
I'm a former Starbucks barista and a semi-regular at Padgett Station. What I LOVE about this coffee shop is the dedication to organic, fair trade products. In this respect they do fill a niche despite the abundance of coffee shops in the Chapel Hill area. The proprieters have researched every single product they sell to the extent that they know the working conditions of the folks that produce them. Those tea leaves from China? They were prepared by women earning a fair income. The soy mochas? They're 100% vegan--the dairy-free mocha is made from scratch every day. The owners and the baristas are extremely knowledgeable about what they sell. Everything I've ever tried there is delicious, and as the baristas gain more experience it can only get better.
THAT'S what matters to me. I do understand the WiFi issue, but not every establishment needs it. I guess I don't see what the big deal is. If you want WiFi, just go elsewhere. If, on the other hand, you want to spend a quiet Saturday morning talking with a friend over a great cup of espresso in a serene environment, Padgett Station might be the place for you :).
You can tell that I'm a fan. I really hope PS succeeds.

As for Starbucks, don't knock 'em too hard. I can say that most of the people who work there really care, and they want their customers to have a good experience. If you don't like your coffee you can always let them know; you'll likely get something else in exchange.

Don't forget to tip the people behind the counter! :)

On the "matter of technology permeating our culture and I believe that it's dulling our senses to the simple pleasures in life," I just started reading David Abrams' work of ecological phenomenology, The Spell of the Sensuous. Here's how he begins:

Humans are tuned for relationship. The eyes, the skin, the tongue, ears, and nostrils—all are gates where our body receives the nourishment of otherness. This landscape of shadowed voices, these feathered bodies and antlers and tumbling streams—these breathing shapes are our family, the beings with whom we are engaged, with whom we struggle and suffer and celebrate.

For the largest part of our species' existence, humans have negotiated relationships with every aspect of the sensuous surroundings, exchanging possibilities with every flapping form, with each textured surface and shivering entity that we happened to focus on. All could speak, articulating in gesture and whistle and sigh a shifting web of meanings that we felt on our skin or inhaled through our nostrils or focused with our listening ears, and to which we replied—whether with sounds, or through movements or minute shifts of mood. The color of sky, the rush of waves—every aspect of the earthly sensuous could draw us into a relationship fed with curiosity and spiced with danger. Every sound was a voice, every scrape or blunder was a meeting—with Thunder, with Oak, with Dragonfly. And from all of these relationships our collective sensibilities were nourished.

Today we participate almost exclusively with other humans and with our own human-made technologies. It is a precarious situation, given our age-old reciprocity with the many-voiced landscape. We still need that which is other than ourselves and our own creations. We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human. . . . We need to know the textures, the rhythms and tastes of the bodily world, and to distinguish readily between such tastes and those of our own invention. Direct sensuous reality, in all its more-than-human mystery, remains the sole solid touchstone for an experiential world now inundated with electronically-generated vistas and engineered pleasures; only in regular contact with the tangible ground and sky can we learn how to orient and to navigate in the multiple dimensions that now claim us. . . more

I don't imagine I spend enough time with dragonflies but I do generally leave the cell phone, Ipod, and laptop at home.

I have to wholeheartedly agree with Jason Baker, above. If a business owner prefers to focus on his own preferences, rather than offer his customers a choice so they may purchase according to their preferences - he/she is pushing away a quiet, paying and appreciative customer base. What I like about Carrboro is that it is a community that appreciates different choices. If I am a customer with different preferences that don't match the owner's personal issues with technology, that owner forces me to go to other establishments.

Which is too bad. I am a downtown Carrboro homeowner and businessperson. Theoretically, I am the kind of person who can afford to spend disposable income on organic coffees and teas every day. I occasionally work from home and enjoy a clean, quiet place to think about work-related ideas (which I enjoy, btw - associating a coffee house with work doesn't have to be an evil thing) that breaks the monotony of being in my living room. Weaver Street is too loud and too full of flies, and Open Eye too dark (physically and spiritually)...and I would really enjoy a change of scenery in an serene place like Padgett Station - a place that also respects my values around fair trade and organic foods. I was there for the first time the other day, and love the space and the coffee. It is unfortunate that I will only be able to go there on odd weekends and not when I would most appreciate a quiet, clean coffee house - during the work day when I'd like to be able to relax, have a cup of tea or coffee and think freely.

Again, I regret that Padgett Station does not want my business just because I like my job and choose to relax with technology. Different strokes for different folks...isn't that what our community is - and isn't that your customer base?

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