Going Out for Coffee

Cup of Coffee Out

Coffee shops are not a new idea; they are not a resent idea either.  The coffee shop dates back many, many centuries to the middle-east.  It was there where coffee found its way into drink form that the coffee shop was born.  It was there that as coffee grew in popularity as a drink.  It was there that the idea have going to a specific place for coffee and conversation finds its roots.


From the middle-east coffee and coffee shops spread to continental Europe and then to Great Britain.  Not only was good conversation to be found with the coffee, but new ideas were floated and business was transacted.  A great example of this is Lloyd’s of London which was established in a coffee house owned by Edward Lloyd in the 1688. 


Coffee became the American drink around the time of the American Revolution because England was taxing tea so heavily.  From that time coffee became the drink of choice in restaurants, inns and where ever dining was offered.  It continued into the dinners and fast food places of the twentieth century and is with us today in our modern version of the coffee shop.


The modern coffee shop is vastly different in what it has to offer.  The original coffee shops offered coffee plain and simple.  When decaffeinated coffee became available products such as Sanka were offered where ever coffee was sold.  Then in the 1990’s flavored coffee became popular with the last decade seeing an explosion of flavors.


Dunkin Donuts is probably the most nationally recognized of the modern coffee shops with its French vanilla and hazelnut flavors leading the way.  Now a customer can order blueberry, pumpkin, and gingerbread among the many offerings.  Then there is Starbuck’s which goes after the market seeking a stronger coffee with different blends of beans.  Each has a strong but very different customer base.  There is a third nationally recognized chain; the Canadian based Tim Horton’s.  This chain has made great in roads in the mid-west blending the two other company ideas to find a middle ground between them.  They don’t appear to go in for a lot of the flavorings like Dunkin Donuts, but their coffee is not as strong as Starbucks. 


There are also an abundance of small, local chains and independent coffee shops across this country.  Many of the Photo Mat booths in strip mall parking lots were bought and turned into drive thru coffee shops.  Many more coffee shops were built out right using this idea.  Other coffee shops have found locations in a variety of available spaces from banks to houses to small retail space.  The offerings of these shops can be as varied as the buildings that house them.


One of my favorite local chains here on the south shore of Boston is Marylou’s.  This chain now has twenty-nine locations.  They make a good cup of coffee to start with but that is not the draw.  When you take a look at their menu you are not sure if you’re in an ice cream parlor or at a candy bar counter.  They have so many flavors.  Do you like Butterfinger candy bars?  They have and Butterfinger coffee.  They also have the upscale treats and like most coffee shops, sell mugs and such with their logo.  This chain is a fun place to go.


Then there are the independent shops.  They all have their loyal following for many reasons.  Some of these shops follow the Starbucks model and others the Dunkin Donuts model.  Yet others will use the Marylou’s model.    These types of coffee places in this area of the country tend to be gathering places or they tend to be places in office buildings that house many different companies. What ever the owner is good at and what ever the customer base demands these independent shops fill those needs in their communities.


So next time your out give that independent coffee shop a try or check out one of the chains whether a local one or a national one.  Find out what all the buzz is about.  Pick up a bag of your favorite flavor or blend from one of the coffee shops and enjoy a great cup of coffee at home!