The Coffee Shop: Recognizing Different Tastes

As an over-caffeinated college student, I have graced many different coffee shops. Each boasts something different: a minimalist green logo with seasonal offerings, a local joint with unpronounceable organic teas professed in cursive on giant blackboards, a haven of wine and coffee, tucked behind a sprawling urban street, drowning out city sounds with Beethoven and Bach.

All these unique stores present their own palette, combining different elements of complementary tastes to create one bold flavor, which owners hope match customers' tastes. Having tasted many different colorful palettes, I imagine a rainbow-like coffee shop I have not yet seen; where consumers contribute their own unique taste, and with each visit, building, bit-by-bit, the shop’s evolving brand.

My business model is this: a blank black wall, no prices, no vision. I invite each visitor who enters the store to find their "flavor" represented on the wall. If they do not see themselves on the menu, I invite them to put up a sticker, quote, or other commemoration they feel best represents her or his identity. I grant them this personal “advertising space” for the price of a conversation with me and a complementary coffee, over which we’d discuss their own background and personal “brand.” Soon, the wall would fill and flower with colorful commemorations of each previous patron who had graced the shop. I would hope news spreads by media and word-of-mouth. Then, shops would be able to attract local loyalists to international inquisitors, each adding a tidbit of their truth to the shop’s aesthetic and aura.

The “shop” would no longer belong to me or boast one brand, as other coffee shops, but serve as a hospitable home belonging to whomever wished to claim it. The shop would pay homage to all those flavors and flairs which often go unnoticed in society and other shops, and serve as a mecca for those who wish to learn and lean into different tastes of the world.