The Next Starbucks is an article in Architect Magazine that has several architects envision the coffee shp of the future.
There are some interesting designs here, but my favourite has to be the last one, in which the designers think first about the social nature of the coffee shop and come up with some old patterns for community use:
Merging the concept of the flexible, shared workspace with that of communal dining creates a new “third place,” a community kitchen. Anchored by a 60-foot-long wooden harvest table, a kit of parts serving different functions can be freely arranged wherever the user sees fit. The configuration of the pieces as well as the length of the table can be customized, depending on the conditions of the store. Diverse spaces are created along the table’s length; some are highly interactive while others, such as the side tables, provide more privacy.
This versatile modular system can also adapt to special functions that may happen inside the store. Its components easily detach and roll around in order to accommodate poetry readings or other large gatherings.
Friends at OSonOS and other places have been interested in the nature of a new kind of coffee shop in which conversation can be a primary function. With so little shared public space in North American cities and towns these days, it seems more and more important to pay attention to these third places.
As an aside, my local coffee shop here on Bowen Island is called The Snug. It is an important community hub, especially in the winter time when locals gather there in the mornings and afternoons and get straight on what’s going on. The previous owners were so trusting of the community that they even turned over the keys to myself and friends so we could have weekly Irish music sessions there. Those sessions continue under the new owners as well.