Small shops have more than caffeine

The atmosphere of small, privately-owned coffee shops is often better than that of Starbucks, which some may find too crowded and will object to the fact that they are a national chain. Just when you think Starbucks has taken over the coffee world, something new pops up: a crowd of “anti-Starbucks” people who seek out local shops to the sometimes overpowering Starbucks. While Starbucks made drinking coffee and tea drinks popular with people of all ages, I often wonder how far this should go. Thanks to Starbucks, you can now see anyone from an 11-year-old kid with a frappuccino at the mall to a professor sipping tea in class. Starbucks gives teens and college students a place to gather in large numbers and partake in drinks and snacks. According to the company fact sheet, Starbucks is the largest multinational chain of coffee shops with 7,102 locations worldwide. With such a high volume of stores, it makes it easy to obtain the coffee or tea that any working individual may crave.

Due to its popularity, Starbucks is often incredibly busy during peak hours, with cashiers rapidly taking orders to give in to the needs of its fast-paced customers. In contrast, independently owned coffee shops often operate at a much more leisurely pace, engaging in conversations with customers.

Maybe for some, chatting and waiting for beverages at a leisurely pace is not to their liking. But for many people, coffees and teas are an escape from daily hassles, and because employees at small coffee shops often know their customers, they can nearly predict their customers’ orders.

Many local coffee shops offer specialties that keep customers coming back for more. Sophomore psychology major Kailin Oliver explains that local coffee shops want to provide their customers with a beneficial setting, that is unlikely of national chains. Her favorite local coffee shop happens to be Eurotazza.

“Eurotazza knows that Starbucks has many locations throughout the Fort Worth area. Instead of the traditional Starbucks decor, Eurotazza provides its customers with a unique atmosphere including European-style decor, a fireplace, many tables and coffee with a very rich, distinct taste,” Oliver said.

Small coffee shops offer an environment that make people more likely to stay for longer periods of time. Stephanie Buck, a sophomore Spanish and Latin American studies and political science major, said local shops stick to the philosophy that every customer counts. They also are aware that large corporations are more focused on numbers and profit and less on the charm of the small business.

Buck adds that Starbucks tends to rush its preparation of beverages.

“Places such as Starbucks tend to burn their espresso shots or are just in such a hurry that some of the art of coffee gets ‘lost in translation’ as they say,” Buck said.

While Starbucks does deserve credit for serving high-quality products that many associate for their “caffeine fixes,” it often lacks the relaxing atmosphere of smaller shops. For those in search of an escape from the fast-paced caffeine fix of Starbucks, consider taking in the atmosphere of a small coffee shop to make it easier to cope with the sometimes overwhelming daily ritual.

Michelle Anderson is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Tyler. Her column appears Fridays.