t i m – s p e a k

the untouched cafe
November 16, 2009, 7:06 pm
Filed under: Cafe Culture, Marketing, Social Media
Cafe Connection

Connected at Starbucks

What if  there were a place where age, social class, race and career came together on an even level?  What if there were a place where business and pleasure both happened at once?  And what if the membership were as cheap as a cup of coffee?  Welcome to the world of the corner Cafe.

Since the days of the walking traveller, local taverns were the community networking hub of their day.  All matter of business, gossip, politics and friendly talk were shared over a pint of ale, and the barkeep might well have been the most connected man in town.  The importance of the tavern to townspeople, and even more-so to travelers for the interchange of news and opinions, and incidental sociability made it the Facebook of the  middle ages.

Eventually, as news became available in print, people connected by telephone and began traveling in cars, the local tavern became less important.  The boardroom is the new bar – and that stiff pint of ale has been replaced by water.  After all – we’re “civilized” now.

But a funny thing is happening.  The boardrooms of the world are increasingly empty, and the proverbial “coffee-break” has become something much bigger.

Walk into your local Starbucks, and you’ll see what I mean.  Here is the new town tavern – where gossip and news are shared, business is conducted, and travelers are once again meeting.  You’ll find every social class here – every race represented – and people young and old are Tweeting, blogging, IM-ing and making the wi-fi neighbourhood coffee house the most connected places on the planet.  Don’t believe me?  Walk into the place dressed as Chicken Man – and see how quickly your photo appears on thousands of users screens.  Even the 13 year-old kid in the corner has an iPhone with a direct feed to YouTube.

So what does all this mean?  What can the most connected 800 square-feet on the planet do for us?  Well for Joss Stone, it means that 50 million people will see her iTunes song-of-the-day.  For Chicken-Man, it might mean 15-minutes of viral fame.  For me however, it seems like the biggest un-tapped market of our time.  If you think a grande-low-fat-double-pump-vanilla-mocha-latte is why the girl with the pink MacBook came here, you’d better think again…  she just told 700 Twitterers that your fly is open.