When you picture Europe, what is one of the first things that come to mind? Ancient buildings? Classical art? Exotic languages? For me, I immediately imagine a quaint sidewalk cafe where diners are enjoying a cafe au lait and a croissant while they observe the passersby. This, to me, is quintessential Europe.
The cafe culture has thrived across the pond for so long now, its hard to imagine visiting Europe without experiencing it. Its very common for people to take their lunches in a cafe, meet up with friends after school or work, or just read the morning paper at a cafe. It is fairly uncommon in some cultures to have social gatherings at ones own house, so they go to the cafe instead.
That is not quite the case in the States. We spend significantly less time in cafes and when we do, its less often for pleasure. With this different mentality toward the cafe, we are developing our own type of cafe culture.
It is considered “trendy” to take your computer or books or work of some kind to the cafes here in the U.S. Take a look around you next time you walk into a Starbucks or Panera. Undoubtedly there will be multiple people that fall into the aforementioned category.
This is our answer to the European cafe. While the Europeans see it as an escape, a time to spend with friends, we use it as a time to work. Its kind of interesting how easily you can read the differences in our cultures just by how we utilize our cafes. Europeans have the “work to live” mentality, living to enjoy themselves, whereas we “live to work” and measure happiness by our professional success. How do you view the cafe? As a place to relax and unwind, or as a means of getting more work done?