If you’re like me and spend even a quick sip of time in coffee shops, you can appreciate their accommodation for people-watching. Or, should I say people-listening, because within these closely contained communities you don’t want to be the stalker-like quaffer who just sits and stares. Either way, coffee shops are unparalleled for passive observations of interesting people and ideas.
Because this week is National Entrepreneurship Week, I’m giving nod to both the unique shops and the hustling entrepreneurs I regularly encounter on my coffee shop work days (of which I happily spend enough to earn my keep). Being an entrepreneur myself, I learn so much from them.
School Grounds Coffee Gallery, Cottage Grove, WI
Here’s where I worked yesterday. Isn’t it the most adorable place ever? In my opinion of restaurants, the architecture and ambiance are as important as the food. School Grounds is definitely A+.
School Grounds is located just off I-94, a busy thoroughfare between Madison and Milwaukee. It’s a natural meeting place for people of all types and yesterday was no exception. On one side of me a wedding photographer promoted her work to a future bride. On the other, two women waited for a company salesperson, who eventually arrived 35 minutes late.
Colective Lakefront Cafe, Milwaukee, WI
When I head east, Colectivo is by far my favorite coffee culture. I say this because there are 13 cafes in the Milwaukee metropolitan area (plus three more in Madison) and each is an experience all its own.
My favorite thing about Colectivo? Their promotional campaign when they changed their name in 2013. It’s the ultimate in creative marketing. I’m also fascinated by their intriguing interior designs. Many of the cafes are in old industrial buildings, lovingly repurposed with eclectic flair. Here’s the design team behind this great work.
The Roots Coffeebar & Cafe, Oconomowoc, WI
It’s been said coffee stimulates creativity. I think its environment does too. There’s something simultaneously soothing and motivating about working in a coffee shop. From the hiss of frothing milk to the hum of a meeting at the next table, these ambient noises are the backdrop of some major production. I’ve seen students studying, writers writing and designers designing (some with their large-screen iMacs, if you can imagine). I’ve overheard compelling business exchanges, many that I’ve tried to emulate in my own business and others definitely not.
Dead River Coffee Roasters, Marquette, MI
Coffee is a competitive business, especially in college or tourist communities. So when Theo, of Dead River Coffee Roasters, set up his hip little cafe, he innovatively took it a step further. He custom roasts his small batches right there along side the tables and creates an aromatic, uniquely chaotic welcome to all who walk through his doors.
Of course distance precludes me from working from this coffee shop. But when vacationing took me away from work, I found hanging out here to be sublime. I loved its casual vibe and the authentic crowd it drew (hint: suits sipping fu-fu drinks were nowhere to be found). Conversations here were down-to-earth and rich, just like the coffee.
Have you ever dreamed of owning your own coffee shop? Just what kind of resourcefulness does it take? Stay tuned. In the weeks ahead we’ll hear from a dynamic lady who’s been there and is successfully doing just that.
Until then, next time you’re in a coffee shop, open up to the interesting goings-on around you. They may be the idea for your next creative project!