In pre-Revolution France, coffee shops were antithetical to our’s today. They were the reason pre-Revolution France became post-Revolution France.
Commonly known as penny universities, French men (at the time male exclusivity certainly stymied the amount and quality of ideas that could have been) came for cheap caffeine and the free flow of knowledge.
Enter individualist America (growing increasingly unaware of the distances between us).
Coffee has very slowly become one of (if not the) consumer’s top drink choices. You can’t beat the warmth, energy, and aesthetic a house cup provides. So too does the vibe we feel at coffee shops foster a controlled, efficient environment.
We could return to the open-discourse of penny universities, but our pluralist society creates barriers of social norms, self-obsession, and ideological lines. It’s hard to break down walls and have productive conversations for human flourishing with strangers.
We start with steps.
Small step: I have a friend who will ask another customer about their drink choice, how they chose, and eventually what they create. (He has genuine fascination with people’s creative sides and digs for stranger’s “why”)
Big step: I know a creative who wants to open a modern-day penny university, creating affordable coffee and space for people to share, create, and encourage ideas. (Even equipped with table flags to signify wanting to hear ideas, share ideas, or just chat!!)
The first step is coming up with your next step. Then go.
It will hopefully only cost you a penny but gain you an ally for your journey.