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Brewed Awakening: The “Turbo” Lifestyle Threatens Coffee Appreciation for Local Shops

Local shops modernized the ’90s coffee culture to inspire coffee appreciation but are being challenged by society’s “Turbo” mentality.

Image: LightField Studios/Shutterstrock

Coffee culture in the U.S. is hip and traditional, accommodating coffee fanatics of all generations. Local coffee spots centered around community and coffee appreciation paved the way for a modern coffee culture to flourish. The founders of these spots said goodbye to the old monotonous drip and hello to fresh innovations, but now standardization poses a threat to the culture.

In the early 1990s, folks around the country were still gripping their porcelain mugs filled to the brim with dark black drip coffee, but a new perspective changed it all.

What was perceived as a morning pick-me-up evolved into affordable luxury.

Long-loved diner coffee was no longer the drink of choice. New hip espresso drinks and brewing styles were replacing unlimited top-ups.

“Coffee culture in the ’90s was all about those big cups of coffee and diners, which has progressed into a more specialized industry.”

Jen Ashton, the owner of Juniper Market in the small town of St. Augustine, FL.

Many coffee shop owners in the small town of St. Augustine entered the industry after noticing an unmet need in the market. Local shops sprouted and bloomed, growing the culture into what it is today.

Ashton opened her shop in 2013, blossoming into a more modern take on classic ’90s coffee shops incorporating diverse coffee varietals and styles.

Fancier coffees emphasizing the aesthetic and flavor of the roasted bean became increasingly popular.

Beautiful cups of coffee, like cold brews, latte macchiatos, cappuccinos, and simple espresso shots, took the reins creating an eclectic coffee culture.

Welcome to the coffee shop

World travelers, professional tennis players, retirees, and the average coffee consumers envisioned a new future of a coffee culture that drifted away from diner coffee in porcelain mugs.

Local coffee shops began expanding on drip coffee and cultivated a communal space for inspiration, socialization, and coffee appreciation.

“Drinking coffee is not just an act but an experience.”

Diane Glorie, founder of Coffee House Realty Café, located in St. Augustine, FL.

Coffee culture in St. Augustine began with a vision that put community and coffee appreciation at the forefront.

“We wanted to create a space that refocused on coffee and bringing people together.”

Diane Glorie

It is about the smell of the ground beans and the taste of the glorified coffee that makes the drink enjoyable.

During their travels, The Kookaburra founders Spencer Hooker and Megan Vidal stumbled into St. Augustine and never left. The sense of community they found had them hooked.

“Coffee culture in this small town is an old man sitting at a table drinking coffee reading a newspaper, a young girl coming in to get a coffee and do work, really everyone of all ages enjoying coffee together.”

Emma Kemp, Kookaburra Barista

Coffee shops like The Kookaburra intend to provide an aesthetically pleasing space for everyone to take a beat and enjoy a coffee.

People eventually understood coffee as an art and a reason to slow down rather than speed up.

Although many local shop owners and loyal customers understand coffee appreciation, conveying this idea to the public can be tricky.

The founders of local spots wanted to create a space for those in the community to appreciate the sip of a crafted cappuccino or funky take on a latte.

The younger generation catalyzed the movement toward innovative drinks that created such eclectic menus. However, standardization is slowly corrupting the local coffee culture that began in the early 2000s.

The corporate coffee industry exacerbates poor coffee appreciation. Unique creations are mass-produced, made in seconds, and handed out the window as people drive by.

The immutable fast-paced society in America is beginning to disrupt the motives of tiny coffee houses.

Small shops must compromise on competing with the conglomerate coffee world. The Kookaburra introduced the Turbo Walk-Up Window to stay on trend.

A To-Go coffee cup is held in front of The Kookaburra Turbo Walk Up Window, a local spot in St. Augustine, Florida.
The Kookaburra Turbo Walk-Up Window is located in St. Augustine, FL.
Credit: Abigale Kreinheder.

The Turbo window adheres to the fast-paced life people are not so quick to turn away from. However, a sense of community is still felt with each brew they sell.

The Turbo window is only open a few hours a day, only a few drinks are available, and customers still have to get out of their cars to order.

The shop still entices customers to sit outside while waiting for their coffee to be brewed, and often staying to finish the cup.

Glancing into the future of coffee culture

Although coffee shops are finding a balance, the future of the current coffee culture remains uncertain.

As larger coffee producers latched onto the new trends, coffee creations became standardized, slowly removing the uniqueness of coffee creations. They became mainstream.

Maintaining the coffee appreciation culture they have fostered poses a challenge for local coffee shops. Therefore, baristas are advocating for coffee education.

“Coffee is becoming standardized in society and taking away from the art that it is. Our biggest challenge is coffee consumer education because it is being lost.”

Dylan Strange, a barista at Relámpago Coffee Lab in St. Augustine, Florida.

Education on coffee appreciation will revitalize the local coffee culture and help keep it alive. The objective of drinking coffee should not solely be for the beneficial effects of the caffeinated beverage but for the taste of the bean.

Coffee appreciation begins with roasting the coffee beans to taking the first sip of a well-balanced cappuccino.

The small-town coffee culture is in the midst of another evolutionary change. The culture has progressively altered over the years, but what will this next wave bring?

While trends in consumerism challenge the mindset of coffee appreciation, the local shops strive to stick to their original visions to maintain a culture that values community and innovation.

Written By

Graduated from Flagler College, with a liberal arts degree concentrating in political science, economics, and English to develop a multifaceted perspective on the world. What started as a childhood hobby, writing has become a passion and has formed into a career interest in Journalism.

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