When The Speculist recently predicted a future society run entirely from coffee shops, we simply nodded and moved on with our day. In truth, it’s a reality we’ve seen coming for some time now.
Of course, the café as a public workspace is not a new idea. We recognize the current incarnation as a wifi-fueled office away from home, but in truth, cafes have been providing a forum for public discourse and intellectual debate for centuries. In fact, coffee has often been credited with ushering in the Age of Enlightenment, due to its ability to fuel creative thought and conversation.
With the advent of the social network, more and more companies are seeing the value of creating a community around their brand. Simple advertising is no longer enough—consumers want a direct line of communication; a sense of kinship with the companies they support.
Online, most start-ups are achieving this via Twitter or Facebook. These outlets offer companies a voice outside of their products; a space for their fans to gather, discuss and provide feedback. In short, they provide the same things that coffee shops provide in the real world.
The parallels have been clear to us from the start—Doejo is great at utilizing social networks and new media, but CEO Phil Tadros also has a long history of building the sort of traditional coffee houses that tend to become institutions in their neighborhoods. This made Doejo the perfect partner to run the coffeebar for Next Door café, a wonderfully modern and well-equipped community space in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.
Online or offline, the goal is the same: to build a community based around a product or service. And more and more, we’re seeing how well the two approaches complement each other.