When I was a teenager I didn’t play sports. Well I did skateboard for a while, but then once I stopped doing that what I did in my free time was read books, hang with friends and watch movies.Going to concerts at The Door in Fort Worth was a favorite past time until they shut down. I didn’t go to shows as much, after that.

When I did go out I didn’t want to spend money - I found myself at Starbucks. Friends and I would talk for hours about the deep things of life until Starbucks closed and we would take it to the parking lot. I would hang there by myself and read. It was a place where I felt like I could just sit for hours without feeling like I’m putting anyone out. Going to a restaurant would be awkward because if I stayed for longer than an hour I should be tipping my server more.


The term “third space” has been coined for that place that people go to hang out that isn’t work and isn’t their home. I’ve come to realize how much third spaces are near and dear to me. Now that I had a car and a license I wanted to get out of the house. For some reason I’ve always liked being in a public space where I feel I’m surrounded by people and it’s not loud. Once I turned 21 you would think now I would want to go hang out at bars since I can drink. Going out for drinks can get expensive quick. If I want to camp out for a little while, I can always grab a $3 drink at Starbucks and feel like I’ve paid my “entry fee.” At a bar a lot of times I would run into the same problem of a restaurant, feeling like I can’t stay long unless I drink more. Most bars were loud and since when I’m hanging out with friends I want to talk - this would take the fun out of most bars.


However, Ben comes along and scoffs at my Starbucks coffee. “That coffee sucks, they don’t treat the beans with respect. They’re burnt!.” Well I didn’t really care all that much cause it tasted better than Folgers to me. He went on to explain that if I wanted to get a good coffee I’d have to go to a different kind of coffee shop. I’d heard of craft beer and seen craft breweries start to pop up in Fort Worth, but I’d never heard of craft coffee before. It honestly sounded bogus - I was skeptical. A shop finally opened up in Fort Worth and so I ended up trying a Cortado for the first time. It was in that moment I became a believer.

I thought that for coffee to taste better it would need lots of sugar and artificial flavorings. Yet here it was, coffee and milk, simple yet complex in flavor. To further my journey down the rabbit hole - for my 25th birthday Ben took me to Austin and I was eager to dive into this new world of craft coffee. I had a cortado at Medici, a cold brew at Cuvvee, an espresso at Fleet and an Americano at Flitch. Ok - so three of those were within a few hours span.  I went too far and almost had a heart attack. Despite the chest palpitations - I wanted more. Later, I came to find out that in big cities all over the country craft coffee shops are popping up more and more. As well, in Europe coffee shops have been a third space for quite some time before we started following suit here.


There’s something to this “trend” - and I hate to call it that. There are many people like me who want a third space. One that is not a restaurant, a bar, or a Starbucks. A place that people can be proud of because it’s an obvious expression of the locals, something unique. I’m not hating on all chain restaurants but there’s a certain beauty to something that a city can say, this is ours, we grew it and it’s can’t be found elsewhere. Things are being done with coffee that have never been done before. I’m eager to see new ground broken in creativity, community, and coffee.


Ben WalterComment