Have you ever heard the saying, “Home away from home”? A place where you can feel comfortable to do things that you’d do at home. Well, maybe not everything but some of the things you’d do in your day-to-day life. Do you have a place that you consider like that? The Underground Coffee House, I know the name may be deceiving thinking is this coffee shop underground? As neat as that would be, it is not. It is located on the on the third floor in the Viking Union at Western Washington University. The Underground is a place where I can get coffee and food in my spare time and also do my work or socialize with others.
Coffee shops. The dictionary defines this as a small, usually inexpensive, restaurant where refreshments and light meals are served. Why are these so relevant to society? Yes, the first thing that comes to mind is to get coffee (Caffeine for the Soul. Duh.), do work, and gossip but you can do those things anywhere. Even in television shows like ‘Friends’, ‘Pretty Little Liars’, and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ the coffee shop is a recurring place in almost every episode. So why at a coffee shop? In the show ‘Pretty Little Liars’ you see that throughout the seasons the coffee shop there The Brew is the one of the primary locations for many events that happen there. Indeed, Rosewood is a small town, but there must be somewhere else. Out of all the places, they find that a coffee shop, a place that is busy with people coming in and out all the time is the best place to talk about “A” and plan. Recently, ‘Pretty Little Liars: Five Years Forward’ premiered on January 12th. Want to give a guess of where the girls meet up? They could have met anywhere but the place they chose? That’s right you guessed it-The Brew. Even coffee shops have their kinds of distraction, but the people there are getting away from the ones they encounter daily, such as the mess in your living space or sitting in a room with your co-workers and it’s awkwardly silent. To many people, this is a way to get things done or unwind from a hectic day because the environment in there is set to give off a vibe that is comforting for their customers.
After leaving my hometown with the coffee shop that I was a usual at during my senior year of high school, Poverty Bay Café. There was just something about getting a mug bigger than my hand, sitting in diner booths or at the antique looking wooden tables, and time just passing by like nothing while doing work either by myself or with friends. Now it was time for the journey of finding that place where I can do work and feel at ease. I mean I have my dorm that I can do work in, but who wants to be cramped up in there 24/7 to do everything. Maybe some people do, but not me. Living in a dorm that is about 15 minutes away from the central part of campus is quite of a walk to the Underground Coffee House, but that has to be good a thing right? Doing some exercising while making room in your stomach for some coffee.
Imagine the Underground Coffee House in the business district of downtown Seattle. It is in between two giant skyscrapers. Hard right? Since that area is structured to look a certain way on the outside and hold a type of reputation for that part of Seattle. The Underground Coffee House would probably be underground-literally because this hipster local coffee shop wouldn’t fit the scene of what downtown Seattle is trying to pertain.
So yes, going to a coffee shop downtown would be a complete 360 then going a local small town coffee shop.
The design of the coffee shop can give a good or bad impression of how people will view its purpose. From the decor to cleanliness it all plays a part. If furniture looks chic but isn’t comfortable, that could be an unappealing detail to many. “The physical characteristics of the space, the philosophy of the management, the attitude of the staff, and the characteristics of the patrons all influenced the social climate.” (Lisa Waxman, 2006) For instance, when I go inside a Starbucks the first thing that clicks in my mind is the sound. The sound of the espresso machine, baristas, the music, papers, keyboards, and people talking- it’s all jumbled together. How is someone comfortable enough to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee or do work there. For a place that is supposed to be comforting, you’d think they’d make adjustments to suit their customers needs.
The Underground may not be your typical aesthetic coffee shop and may not be Instagram worthy for your profile, but this place gives a laid back feeling to unwind from your daily worries. When you first walk into the shop, you will notice the different types of furniture. Which of many people remind them of the show ‘Friends’. May it be the couches, the vintage furniture, the soft lighting, or the small town vibe? Channeling your inner ‘Friends’ character sitting on couches with your friends, sipping coffee, and chit chatting. There is just something about it that makes it so appealing to others. As you look nothing goes together in there from the 90s looking neutral gray carpet with blue, purple, and light gray geometrical shapes to the different art on the walls, but somehow it all ties in together because it is all so different.
Everyone has different taste in style. So how do coffee shops attract people and suit their needs? “A coffee shop can build a solid reputation by offering quality products” (Karyn Lewis, 2016) As DJ Khaled would say to many things, “This is a major key to success. They don’t want us to be successful but we will.” By listening to customers and being different from other shops is a way of attracting people. It is true that having quality products can make a store successful but also having a variety of products served, soft background, different types of events, or board games. Even something so simple that is different from others can make you known because of that one thing. May it be the architectural structure or aroma? Like the saying “The little things are what makes it worth it.” For instance, when a barista puts a little doodle on your cup or in the foam of your latte. Those are the things that keep customers coming back for more and find solace in the coffee shop.
At the Underground, there are your typical coffees, teas, and some food but for non-coffee drinkers, there could be more of a selection. They do serve bottled drinks and snacks(such as soda, flavored beverages, chips, cookies, etc.). Another thing is if you’re not a coffee drinker there is going to the coffee house for the events held at night there. On the right side, you’ll see a section of space with some speakers and a banner that says “the underground coffee house” on the wall that is the stage. Stay late enough during the weekdays (Monday-Thursday) you can witness some live music, games, and acts on the stage. Sometimes it may not be the best, but you get to see people do what they love in front of others sharing their hard work. It takes a lot of gut to get up there because you never know how people will react to you, but every time I’ve gone to watch it has been nothing but support, laughter, and joy.
All coffee shops have their specialties and kinks. Some may not have the best coffee or a cool modern theme going on for my Instagram but this place has wooed me of how they support a local coffee company, which there is anything but matching, and the type of atmosphere it gives off. How the Underground Coffee House is an opening place for anyone and has lots of diversity. Whether you’re into cafes, parks, etc. everyone has that place they consider their escape. Mine just happens to be a coffee place, and I hope you’ll find yours.