Coffee People: A Coming of Age Tale

Until this past April, I was working at the kind of Brooklyn cocktail bar where every night was the Most Harrowing Shift in History for some freshly hellish reason or another. There was always a Manhattan not perfect enough or a stool too wobbly. There’s much to love about the world I got to access through that job, but I felt stagnant after two years of the same thing. When I got the opportunity to work at Joyride, I jumped at it though I knew that much of my reality and lifestyle in New York was going to change completely.

While finishing up my two weeks at the bar, I found only promising omens regarding my new employers. These were mainly simple, surface perks. Loose dress code (“Look like you’re going to go impress someone at a Blue Bottle cafe,” we told one recent hire), rare post-5-p.m. stays (no more 3 a.m. Friday shifts followed by Saturday brunch) and as much free fancy coffee as you can drink (often more than you should).

Still, there was one big con I wasn’t sure I could shake. As a 20-something working in restaurants, you don’t have to worry much about making friends. Friends find you. They’re your patrons and your bar’s neighbors and the guy who saves you a coffee at 9 p.m. before dumping the pots because he knows you’re just starting your day at that point. They’re the people who get you a cocktail at their bar when you’re done working at yours. These people know the same life as you, and even if you have nothing else to connect them to you, this subject is vast and nebulous and inexhaustible. But what about when you work in an office? What about if your coworkers just aren’t your people?

A few days before starting the job, I was still doing research on Joyride, including reading every single page of the website. In those days, the banner on our homepage was a simple, all-caps declaration: “DAMN FINE OFFICE COFFEE.”

Perfect, I thought. These coffee nerds are also Twin Peaks nerds.

damnfinecoffee
damnfinecoffee

Nerds of all ilk have been (re)exposed to Twin Peaks over the past few months, the result of many rumors of its return followed by an official announcement at the beginning of October. (And please note the single hashtag creator David Lynch chose for this particular tweet, from dozens of possible catchphrases.) I’ve been hooked on the show since early in college and have found excuses more than once since then to watch it all the way through again. This is perfect, I thought. These Joyride people might just be my people.

If you’re not familiar with the inner workings of the show, there’s only one thing you need to know for now: Special Agent Dale Cooper loves coffee. He gives it much the same relevance and reverence that we do here at Joyride. It’s something bigger than the basic function it serves, more important than a vehicle to wake you up and shake off the morning dust. It becomes a thing of ritual comfort, of social importance, of daily contemplation. Twin Peaks is a show full of showstoppers - vicious presences, double lives, surreal slips in time - that takes a beat out of nearly every episode to let its populace stop and really savor a sip of coffee along with S.A. Dale Cooper. They even occasionally offer a spit-take, because it’s that damn fine.

So, great, whatever. These people are my people. (Plainly, for me adulthood has lately seemed all about finding my people.) But here’s a question both for my new life and for the show I’m framing this life within: Why coffee?

It's not complicated. Coffee is communal and social; it is refreshing as cold brew in summer and a welcome thaw in winter; and perhaps most important for Joyride, it’s a market that is sparking conversations once reserved for wineries or perhaps craft brewing.

But let’s broaden that. At the bottom of all this, coffee is an opening. It’s an excuse to meet a friend, a reason to treat yourself to pain au chocolat. As S.A. Dale Cooper would counsel: “Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot, black coffee.”

So, why not take a job where I can do just that, every day, with my people? Fictional though he is, I’d be remiss not to give special thanks to a very Special Agent for reminding me there are things everywhere, anywhere you can do to make life your own.

While that’s totally my sign-off, but I’d be disingenuous not to mention that just last month, the truth came out. These nerds had no idea what they were doing when they sloganed their company. Joke was on me because by then I really liked them. I’ll see you again in twenty-five years, restaurant world.

-Blog post written by Liana Imam, New York Account Manager