A New Vision of the Coffee House: Pay what you can, brew your own coffee, build community. ~ Marie Janiszewski

Via elephant journal
on Apr 9, 2013
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Hands Holding Cup of Coffee

Have you ever walked into a café and wondered what all those people at their individual tables were working on?

New technologies have given us the opportunity to work independently. As a result, more and more people are isolating themselves in public settings and the context of the coffeehouse has been restructured into an internet cafe.

We’ve tried to counteract this dynamic with a new idea, not by removing the internet or trying to stop customers from doing what comes naturally, but by reconfiguring their interaction with the space and the people around them.

The first coffeehouses of 18th century Europe effectively functioned as liberal forums for philosophers and scientists to share their latest findings in order to grow new ideas. These historic coffee houses are what we aim to recreate.

Built out of a trailer and arranged as a food truck, Public Coffee strive to generate conversations and community engagement to foster social innovation. It will visit various neighborhoods throughout Denver, Colorado to serve coffee and start meaningful conversations.

coffee truckPublic Coffee has structured its course of travel in pursuit of accessibility. Locations will be demographically diverse and varied in proximity to local coffeehouses, such as identified “coffee deserts.” We leverage the mobility of our pop up shop to provide a greater accessibility for all communities to participate and engage with Public Coffee’s model.

Serving coffee in ceramic and glass cups encourages the customers to stay at the space and employ Public Coffee’s modular tables to enjoy their coffee together. These tables will be constructed designed to attach tables to the coffee station or to other tables so customers might collectively shape and share the space.

Public Coffee’s financial model embraces the pay­-what­-you­-can system, where monetary payment is not required for customers to participate in projects and discussions.

A sign describing the project’s finances will accompany the menu to make these transactions much more open and discursive. The caffe sospeso, a Neapolitan tradition resembling the pay it forward model, will be a suggested practice. The generosity of participants will be a key component of Public Coffee, and everyone will be welcomed.

Once they order, customers will be welcome to get involved in brewing their coffee to make the process more approachable, interactive and educational. We value education and sharing skills as a way of empowering individuals, promoting collaboration and sparking innovation. Additional models such as a Participatory Skill Exchange Board will be provided as a tool for participants to make meaningful connections around their needs and what they would be willing to teach others.

The idea for Public Coffee was developed out of conversations in coffee shops. Our conversations have held the presence of designers, social artists, educators, coffee visionaries, social workers, businessmen, a farmer’s market director and architects. It was during these conversations that they realized that our gatherings held a great deal of weight and could lead to self­-realizations, a deeper level of connection between individuals, and
the development of entirely new projects. They wanted to recreate these experiences for other people, and so we thought up Public Coffee.

Public Coffee is collaboratively built because it wants to operate in a completely collaborative manner. It wants its surrounding city to tell it where to show up. It wants communities to take charge of it for their events. It wants neighborhoods to move and utilize its furniture and equipment in a way our team never imagined. Public Coffee is, quite frankly, for the public!

Having just successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign to raise the initial building costs of the trailer, the actualization of these ideas is currently underway. For more information visit publiccoffee.org.

MarieGOOD-0004_2Here at Public Coffee, we believe collaboration is a ripple effect. We started with a conversation and have developed a team of passionate collaborators including Marie Janiszewski, Samantha Kogle, Faith Williams, Jeff Wahl, Kevin Bell, and many other creative individuals.



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Ed: Brianna Bemel


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5 Responses to “A New Vision of the Coffee House: Pay what you can, brew your own coffee, build community. ~ Marie Janiszewski”

  1. dumps says:

    Helpful information. Lucky me I discovered your site by accident, and I’m shocked why this twist of fate didn’t
    took place in advance! I bookmarked it.

  2. Vision_Quest_Redux says:

    Put some baristas out of a job, giving every table their own French press? (or something similar, requiring little attention to having to have clean hands to do the measuring, brewing, etc.)

    Well, I'm into DIY-ing, and I don't drink coffee as much as I used to.

    It might work. But, regulars to the coffee houses in the booming metropolis are going to miss some of the baristas … because it can't just be a little trip on the way to the (regular, non-coffee-house perch) office … it has to be a diversion

  3. noches says:

    Have you ever thought about publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other blogs?
    I have a blog based upon on the same subjects you discuss and would love to
    have you share some stories/information. I know my audience would enjoy your work.
    If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.

  4. Mr.Science says:

    Hmmm… Pay what you can and brew your own coffee. . . sounds like staying home.

  5. Big plus for Coffee lovers like me 🙂