A Coffee Date with Conversationalists
As most of you know, Western Washington University is known for having environmentally concerned hipsters who love to explore, go on nature walks and most importantly, drink coffee. Although that might not be the entire school, a high percentage of the school’s population portrays the image. The smaller percentage probably leans toward more of a secluded area where it still contains that “hipster” feeling. The Underground CoffeeHouse fits perfectly for that small percent of people. As a student who values strong personal connections with a friend I need a place who holds the opportunity for an intimate one on one conversations and of course a cup of coffee on the side. I do appreciate the long adventures in the outdoors but I’m most definitely the type of person who would rather talk about life for hours and have many refills of the delicious coffee being served.
The Underground CoffeeHouse has it’s own floor in the Viking Union, which opened in 1959 (The Bulletin). This makes the area appear even more secluded and hidden from the rest of the building. The layout of the shop definitely promotes privacy whether it’s from the lighting, color scheme or furniture. Divided by a five foot wall, one side of store has the couches that gather together near the stage. The dark fall color themes of the furniture are completely different but somehow compliments each other and the rest of the items it surrounds itself by. The other side of the shop is organized with tables and chairs for groups no more than four. The tables sit along side of the windows giving the customers a great view of the bay.
The lighting is dimmed which creates a cave like feeling, even better for the one on one conversation. On the couch side, the lights seem low which creates a secure feeling for the customers. Seems almost like you’re at home laying on your couch while you watch tv and notice that the room keeps getting darker because nightfall is arriving. Since the chairs aline by the window, during the daytime the natural sunlight shines through but doesn’t fully reach over the wall. Therefore it creates isolation for both sides of the coffee house which can determine where someone might have a better conversation at. Do you want to converse in a comfy couch where it’s a possible for you to fall asleep or do you want the original table and chair gossip area? Both definitely are secluded enough for the private talk with your bff and even for that last minute homework session with yourself.
Before entering the coffee shop you can instantly smell the coffee and hear the faint sound of The Beatles or other 60’s-90’s tune playing. As I currently sit in the coffee shop, I am not distracted by the background music that is currently playing. It’s almost as if it’s background music to my life, only when I’m in the coffee house of course.
There is always music playing and whispers of the people sitting next to you. Of course you can still hear them but it’s like everyone has their own personal bubble which creates a barrier of respect and individuality. No one seems to bother their neighbor but still acknowledges their presence and it’s not distracting either.
Certain times of day single people occupy a lot of the space causing it to seem like it’s full. Sometimes it’s hard as another single customer or couple to find a spot because all the seats are taken. It’s obviously really inconvenient but also shows that a lot of solo riders enjoy this type of environment. I suggest the first thing you do when you arrive is to go and find a seat. Usually the couches are the #1 chill spot for solo customers or couples/groups, meaning, they’re always taken.
On specific nights, the Underground Coffeehouse hosts events like open mic or poetry slam night. Although they are really fun to go and have a good time to meet new people, it isn’t the ideal time to go have the quiet talk you wanted with your friend. It’s going to be crowded and obviously loud. It’s best if you go when there isn’t a big group of people sitting so close to you where they can probably hear you breathe.
The characteristics of the Underground Coffeehouse definitely portray a homey feeling. The couches and lighting the area contains gives you the feeling of security. As Victoria Gigante says in her article How to Feel at Home Wherever You Are, “Feeling safe is a basic human need and part of the foundation that allows us to relax.” The layout, music and people in this coffee shop perfectly fits the needs of someone who enjoys a one on one conversation with a cup of coffee on the side.