Where You Drink Your Coffee Is More Important Than You Think

What is it about coffee that brings us together?

Is it the taste? The warmth? The smell?

I don’t know. But people sure do love sitting together, drinking coffee and talking about anything and everything.

Is part of what makes coffee so good the experience itself? Does the coffee you’re drinking in that small local Italian café taste as good as the coffee you just through in your thermos, spilling on your jeans running to catch the 1 train?

Of course not. Even if it’s the same exact coffee.


Because coffee is community.

Coffee is one of the only drinks (not containing alcohol) that is often accompanied with a physical component. It’s why we love to go down to our local coffee shop, open up our laptop, order our favorite drink of all time and chat with some of the regulars.

Because where we drink coffee is OUR place. It’s where WE feel comfortable and safe and warm. It could be all the way across the world, in a tiny one-room café in Ethiopia, that we feel closest to home.

Drinking coffee with our friends and even complete strangers bring with it a sense of community. It brings us closer together.

I was so sure of this that I had to test it. So I ran a small survey to see what the people thought. The results speak for themselves.

I sampled just over a hundred people from various coffee shops in NYC. Here are a few of the questions I asked:

  1. Do you have a preferred place to get your coffee?
  2. Does the environment/atmosphere of the coffee shop have an influence on where you get your coffee? Does it also influence whether you stay there to drink it or not?
  3. Do you think the environment/atmosphere of the coffee shop has an influence on the taste/quality of the coffee?

Here’s an overview of the responses.

Question 1

68% of people had a go-to coffee shop. Most people described it as “the only place I get coffee”. The over all consensus with the remaining 32% was that they didn’t really care too much about coffee and that they would just grab it when they can and be on their way.

Question 2

Now as far as the atmosphere of the coffee shop, this survey may be slightly flawed because, after all, I was surveying people in a coffee shop. However, I was able to grab some people as they rushed in and out, getting a not-so-warm response from the majority of that bunch. But hey what can I say, we’re just out here trying to talk about coffee.

Okay, back to the responses. A not-so-high 52% of people said that the atmosphere of the coffee shop wasn’t all that important when they’re just grabbing a cup to go. But a whooping 82% said that when they plan to hangout or do some work in a coffee shop, the atmosphere is the most important thing. The consensus of the other 18% was that if there’s coffee, tables and chairs then that’s all that really matters. While that is understandable, the majority of people are looking for a place that is comfortable and welcoming.

Question 3

This question was a tricky one because if the atmosphere of the coffee shop does affect the perceived taste of the coffee you’re drinking, it would do so subconsciously. But that’s way to complicated to elaborate on any further. Anyway, 74% of the people who enjoy sitting down and drinking their coffee in the coffee shops said that they feel the coffee tastes best when they stay and drink it.

Yes, there are still those people who say “it could be the worst, most uncomfortable place to go, but if they make the best coffee, that’s what I want.” While a few of these people exist (and I do mean a few) most people do prefer atmosphere over everything. This really isn’t too hard to believe because it’s not like boutique coffee shops are out there serving Folgers.

Here’s a little visual of the data I collected.


Originally published at The Coffee Bodhi.