“Cafes are at the heart of urban myths, they are celebrated as physical places and as somehow intangible sacred halls where works of art have been produced, revolutions plotted, lives made and hearts broken” (Grafe and Bollery, 2007).
Despite what Grafe and Bollery statement, I do not feel part of this much-celebrated cafe culture. I collect many references to cafe culture through movies, books, and art. The expensive cafes of Paris, with its fancy tiny tables; the delightful view of San Marco Plaza through a cafe window; the spectacular variety of tea in a London cafe; the strange smell of the Amsterdam’s coffee shop; the cheap hot chocolate in one of the many corner’s coffee shops in North America.
I born and grown in a different country. Even though Brazil was the biggest producer (and still is one of the most important) of coffee, the cafe culture in urban centre virtually does not exist. Instead, we have padarias (bakery). But the bakery culture does not have anything in common with cafe culture. People don’t go the to socialize, just to buy bread and coffee. Usually a small and strong coffee – the fuel to wake up for another workday.
It is not a surprise that Brazilians does not have the cafe culture. In fact, it was a surprise when I told to my Canadians friends this story. A late developed (still in development, actually) country that through most of its history survive by exporting agricultural (commodities) goods. It is the classical colonial-metropole relationship.
Not that I am victimizing myself and my country. But this is the history, usually an uninterested and untold story. We don’t have (yet) a cafe culture that I learn to love in the movie, and later on got to know personally. The country is growing and the bakeries are shifting into the cafe. It has been attracted big coffee shop chains from North America. But hopefully, the European style, less marketing oriented and much more social rich will predominate.
Now excuse me, I need a coffee to wake me up…