A Cup of Coffee

One should not underestimate the role of coffee in the bourgeois social imaginary. The specific rituals and behaviours of commensality that have emerged around coffee drinking do seem to occupy a special place in bourgeois life: coffee does not intoxicate, it is even conducive to labour, but one must still take a short break to consume it; the conversation that accompanies coffee consumption can range from the banal to the serious, but it never takes place among irreconcilable enemies and tends to present itself as an opportunity to neutralize noxious conflicts; it is pleasant to have coffee with others, and yet the act of drinking it is not an essentially collective enterprise, and hence does not violate the idea of a society of neatly separable atoms. The coffeehouse or the café is thus the site where the bourgeoisie has, throughout its history, shown that it can conceive of a kind of human interaction that, in a minimal fashion, transcends the contacts necessary for purely economic transactions. One can say that bourgeois society allows for at least one place where community appears as something other than the secondary and somewhat mysterious effect of the pursuit of individual self-interest. We can converse, for a while, over a cup of coffee.

Jakob Norberg

One response to “A Cup of Coffee

  1. This is Great! Thank you S4YP

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