Coffee in America Today

Rye, New York, is the smallest city in Westchester County. Rye's picturesque neighborhoods present imposing waterfront mansions and detached homes; its small-town New England ambiance and sense of history suit nearby Connecticut well. The Square House, built around 1700, presides over the southern entrance to the downtown area, representing Rye's commitment to its history. The Square House shares the 'village green' with the Municipal Building and the Rye Free Reading Library. Visitors to Rye usually become acquainted with the city through its downtown, which runs along Purchase Street (Vizard, 1997.) And what else would line such a main road in such an historic district besides the status symbol of the 90's? Coffee bars and similar specialty stores line Rye's own Purchase Street. Manayunk, Pennsylvania, was once just a burned-out strip of empty warehouses. "Now Manayunk is one of the hottest real-estate sections in Philadelphia - a virtual yuppie hotbed of coffee shops, eateries and retail stores with names like Main-ly Shoes and Public Image" (Kapner, 1996.)

Coffee bars and shops have recently enjoyed the warm embrace of upscale real-estate areas. Specialty coffees and 'yuppie' merchants seem to reinforce each other- one must wonder which attraction made the areas what they are today. Coffee lends its exclusive, tasteful air to several other niches of the consumer world. According to Restaurant Business, specialty beverages like premium coffees are profit powerhouses and easy for food service operators to add to existing businesses. V. Richards Market, for instance, specializes in gourmet grocery products and services and has been called a first-rate business. The one-store operation underwent major construction, expanding by 5,000 square feet and adding a coffee and wine bar. In the weeks following the grand reopening, the store's revenues jumped between 12% and 14% (Garry, 1996.)

Lending its mystique to less glamorous venues, specialty coffee drinks enjoy high profit potential in convenience stores. "In addition to being a great impulse-driven item, gourmet coffee beverages can also attract repear and new customers who enjoy high quality espresso beverages during their morning commute" (Schulte, 1996.) In what may seem a strange relationship, Petro-Canada has united gasoline, car wash, burger, Twinkie, and coffee house into a SuperStop Convenience store. Graced by soft-rock ambiance and a seamless glass facade, the store captures the vision of architect Charles Broudy, famous for his work with GAP stores (Abcede, 1996.) Coffee and cappuccino attract hip patrons of Northwest Auto Wash in Arlington Heights, Illinois (Lowe, 1996.) While fresh, hot coffee remains available in traditional, self-serve glass pots, a Texaco Star Mart in Las Vegas offers over a dozen coffee specialties served from behind the counter of Jitters Express Jolt 'n Bolt (National Petroleum News, 1996.)

In the past several years, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and other superstores have incorportated coffee cafes with great success. However, such superstores have been criticized by independent bookstore owners for selling coffee and atmosphere along with more than 100,000 titles. According to these critics, diversity and quirkiness are being erased from the bookstore scene. New information technology has made buying and selling easier for the newcomers who make use of it, upsetting established "value" booksellers. "The values independent booksellers celebrate include diverse literary voices, personal service, and support for unknown authors" (Postrel, 1996.)

Introduction Coffee's Past Coffee Today How Coffee Got Hot Coffee Drinkers