People don’t always go to coffee shops just for a drink, but to spend time with friends or read a book. This “coffee shop culture” is very popular in the UK and it is a fantastic way to spend time with loved ones. It isn’t popular everywhere, though.
There are around 15,000 coffee shops in the UK. On the main street of my home city, Edinburgh, there are at least five quite large coffee shops. Heading away from the main street you are still never more than a five or ten minute walk to the nearest café.
Most coffee shops have a cosy atmosphere. They are places where you can sit for hours as you sip your coffee. People go with friends and family to chat and relax after going shopping, or meet up just for a gossip. Alternatively, many people go alone. Coffee shops are great places to read in peace, or to sit and write (I am writing this blog post in a coffee shop, for example). And with free Wi-Fi in many places, it is not difficult to spend a lot of time in a coffee shop.
In Colombia, however, the coffee shop culture does not really exist, or, at least, is still very new. Famous for its coffee I imagined that even the tiniest Colombian village would have a coffee shop. I mean, they do exist but they are nowhere near as common as I had expected.
The ones that do exist are very different from those in the UK. They are places where you go in, have a quick drink and then leave immediately. Nobody spends the afternoon enjoying a peaceful moment. People never seem to come in for a leisurely drink but for a quick – almost business-like – meeting, even if they are with family or friends. The idea that a person would go to a coffee shop alone is, apparently, ridiculous. Every time I go alone with a book, other customers look at me as if I had horns. I could be painting a wrong picture, of course. This may be the culture only in Pasto, where I live; other Colombian cities perhaps have a more developed coffee shop culture.
It doesn’t much matter to me though. Next month I am heading home and I’ll have plenty of quiet little coffee shops to read, write, and gossip with friends.
Is there a coffee shop culture in your country? Where do you go with friends to relax and have a good chat?