Why Coffee Shops Are Important (Kait Fowlie, @KaitFowlie)

Remember when opening a box of Tim Hortons’ donuts would make your entire place reek of cigarette smoke? Tasty.

A few years ago, Brantford’s selection of coffee shops was as uninspired as it was smoky. Thankfully, those hazy days are over. Our coffee shop scene has transformed. The Blue Dog and The Station Coffee House are lively examples of the step up. Aside from better-tasting (and smelling) pastries, these places offer a real experience of local art and culture. The city is made better by them and they are made better by the city.

Why are coffee shops important? Historically, they’re where great ideas are born. Thinkers, artists, and regular Joe’s have relied on them as places of creative inspiration for centuries. It’s no coincidence that the rise of the coffee house directly coincided with the Age of the Enlightenment.

Before the first coffee houses in England, the most popular option for people to get out and socialize was to visit a pub. As a result, the English population was generally trashed – and subsequently, pretty unproductive – until about 1650. It was around this time that the new public spaces cropped up. Shortly afterward an enlightened Europe was born. It wasn’t just the switch from beer to coffee that stimulated minds, though. It was the kind of collaboration that was made possible.

In the same way that hearing a co-workers’ rapid-fire typing will motivate you to work harder at the office, watching a local bands’ set in a coffee shop will inspire you to let loose your talents to the public. We feed off the energy in our environments, and are greatly affected by our fellow city dwellers creativity. Hence, a local coffee shop can often provide a more inspiring example than an art gallery – we are much more likely to think “Hey, I want to do something like that too!” in the closer-to-home setting.

Brantford is setting an artistic example to be proud of. From photography exhibits to stich n’ bitch nights, our coffee shops give us the opportunity to be creators. With every piece and performance, we create our unique identity, as individuals and a city. Everyday, around the corner, on the way to work – this is where culture happens. The next time you grab a latte, stop and look around. You might get inspired.

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