he clock hit 11:00 am and still was no sign of the two cups of coffee I had drunk taking effect. Besides, I’d been feeling the stress of a current project slowly trying to inch its way in and decided a five minute break would be a nice stall. Sure, I should be taking more vitamins, but coffee is much easier. And it tastes good.
I made my way down the elevator and through the double doors which screamed with wind as they broke open. I quickly turned toward Broadway, head down, hands clenched and legs speeding through the cold. As I neared the Starbucks sitting pretty on 41st and Broadway, my eyes finally looked up and saw a man sitting on the other side, reading the newspaper and sipping his coffee. He appeared to be a tourist snapshot camera around his neck and a look which was a one part bewilderment, one part amazement; such a focused yet glazed over stare is typical of someone who has never experienced the rush of New York City’s Times Square.
I felt my pace slowing as I passed the bay window he was perched behind. These large revealing windows somehow whispered of a world that was more mellow than the one I was speed-walking my way through. As I walked in I was instantly seduced by the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the sounds of a sweet singer and the hot air that immediately caressed my frozen face. I made my way toward the line and passed the man staring out of the window; it would seem he was getting what he wanted: a moment of relaxing while observing the local business crowd making their usual run through the City. His mellow energy felt comforting to me. Yes I thought to myself, this is exactly what I need right now.
To my pleasant surprise, the line had only one person to boast. I ordered my double espresso with whipped cream, or “doppio con panna,” as the well-educated worker called out, and quickly found it on the end counter for me. This is not usual for this branch, where the line usually demands a five-or-more-minutes wait and the retrieval time is considerably more, even up to 12 minutes once! It’s such times, of course, which make my-coworkers and I think twice about a coffee run since we feel it’s often ends up being time wasted on incidentals rather than invested in ourselves.
However, today the café had a mellow vibe to it. As I walked over to a funky oversized couch, I began to recognize the song playing. It was “Brasileria” by Nazaré Pereira from the Putumayo CD “Latinas.” I sat down and sipped. It’s a whole package I had purchased--the coffee was just a mere detail in it. Together with the warmth and the aroma, the atmosphere transported me to a place that existed for me only while on vacation--and that was what the moment became for me, a ten-minutes vacation from life’s every day hustle.
It’s a formula, you see: the right temperature plus the scent of espresso plus the sounds of world music equaled a happy customer. I was buying a feeling. If only that feeling could be bottled someone (preferably me) would be making millions. However, that’s not possible. What is possible is keeping the memory in the back pocket of the mind to be pulled out whenever the day calls for a mini-holiday.
I know that the chances of me walking in there in a few days and getting the same package is low because the formula is hard to continually reproduce--but it’s a chance I’m willing to take. And if you, the retailer meet me half way every now and then, your café will became the sole oasis for my cherished mini-holidays.
Enjoy the season!
Tea & Coffee Trade Online