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Coffeehouses: the googlemaps of culture

To claim that coffeehouses are a center for American culture has become quite the cliché. Consider our 417 shops. Walk into Rendezvous or Hebrews, do you not see Christ-centered Capitalists at table after table? Go to Starbucks, are you not surrounded by either yuppies clad in Coach and ordering up purified art, or the modern-day bourgeoisie getting venti frappucinos and working for the man? Stop by The Coffee Ethic or Hub, are they not filled with bedheaded hipsters working from MacBooks, drinking fair-trade, single-origin coffees with a healthy side of pretense? Okay, that last one is me and my friends. None of these things are bad…in fact, I argue these are the people, and these shops are the places, leading our culture forward.

One thing I’ve recently learned is great about these centers of culture is their ability to help you find the ‘culture’ of other places. Last week I took a roadtrip to Denver (very Jack Kerouac driving across the plains, no?) and Tom Billionis, co-owner of The Coffee Ethic, urged me to stop at PT’s, a shop and roaster who calls Topeka, KS home. There I met Sara, a barista who pointed me to a fun (and delicious) shop called St. Mark’s in Denver. There, I talked to a crew who pointed me in the direction of more coffee, not to mention art museums, independent film houses, booksellers, and clothing stores. You see, it’s all one big interconnected web—these places we get coffee are so much more than that, they provide us with community, with culture in our own backyards and beyond.

This August I’ll be moving to Pittsburgh, PA, for graduate school. Tom’s already setting me up with a list of shops to frequent and I know his advice will be sound, that there I will find friends and culture, another home to add to the list.