Cafes are important

Australians love a coffee shop. They promote community 25 October 2020

There’s an Irish comedian who spent a lot of time in Australia. My apologies for not remembering his name but he had a gag that I remember.

“You love a coffee shop in this country, don’t you? What’s it now? About one each?”

If you stand at the corner of Hay and Colin streets, West Perth and walk west for one block, the joke is writ large in reality. From corner to corner, it’s about one café – or venue providing coffee – for every three shops.


Do we like coffee that much? Personally it is the free newspapers that attract me. Having worked in that industry and running a publication delivered free to the people of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, I find it abhorrent to have to purchase a paper.

For most though a coffee shop provides community; gathering places to meet with friends or have work meetings. Pre-work venues to see familiar faces or enjoy some recreation during breaks in the working day.

Community has suffered in recent decades.

We’re confined to our homes by the way life has moved.

Groceries get delivered to homes. If you don’t like food shopping, you stay home.

Wine can be ordered on line and delivered to your door. No need to go to pubs or bars or bottle shops if you want to save money or avoid being pinged for drink driving on the way home. Fair enough, catch a cab or Uber. Prefer this model if you like but it cancels community from your lifestyle.

Netflix, Binge and Stan and the rest provide recently released movies and TV series – many of previous movie quality – to entertain in the home. Going to the cinema, irrespective of COVID-19, has become almost unnecessary. We still do it because it’s a good recreational activity and we want to see something the moment it comes out. However, community has been diluted because there are good stay-at-home options.

Buying clothes on line is the new shopping (it’s probably been going on for decades but I’m slow to catch up). I’ve bought boxer shorts, cardigans and pullovers on line in the past six months. No need to go out and engage with a person in a retail shop, which is community of sorts.

Is it any surprise coffee shops are popular? The opportunities to converse with or even observe other people have been diluted over recent years. We need interaction with others to keep sane.

Cafes provide this opportunity.

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