There are some obvious differences between Paris and the US.
1. Parisians walk everywhere.
2. Red wine and water are one in the same.
3. Impeccable, instinctive fashion sense.
4. Art, style, cuisine.
5. No shave, no problem.
But a less obvious difference remains: coffee culture.
In April 2010, Oliver Strand, coffee expert, wrote an article on Paris's move towards a more American way of drinking and appreciating coffee – but only little by little. According to Strand, "beans are still old and over-roasted, the machines are still second-rate and poorly maintained, and the person behind the bar is still more concerned with continuing his or her conversation than pulling a good shot." Guess they have yet to hear of the cold brew kegerator.
Ironically, coffee is very much a part of Parisian culture. Every time I went to a café, everyone around me would be ordering a coffee, whether it was a café au lait or an espresso (insert French accent). My host mother would offer me coffee every morning, and if we were sitting down to talk, it was always over coffee (sometimes tea).
People there don't just stand in line for a Starbucks and jet out of there with a tall soy latte. They, instead, will always sit down, maybe smoke a cigarette, and drink their coffee there. But that doesn't necessarily mean they are drinking good coffee. In fact, many American coffee lovers will visit and complain about how terrible the coffee is there.
According to another article on the way Parisians drink their coffee, it seems that Parisians drink coffee as more of a palate cleanser or for just a burst of energy than for its taste. But recently, things have started to change.
Over here on our side of the Atlantic, people have become so obsessed with good coffee that the number of different methods – from cold brew to pour-over – are growing exponentially, along with the importance of good coffee equipment, technology, and fresh, quality beans.
Perhaps Paris will experience the same evolution. Strand did follow up in 2012 announcing that "Finally, Paris has a coffee scene." Or considering the Parisians' inclination to preserve the French culture, maybe they will continue to just keep coffee simple.
I'm sure all coffee beans are juvenile. They're always getting grounded!
A little under a month ago, Molly Young wrote an article for the New York Times titled "The Calorie-Packed Perk," addressing employee benefits and perks. This article was especially relevant to me. First of all, as an intern, it has been incredibly helpful to be working at a startup, especially one that is in the midst of such rapid growth. Although I am a Social Media and Advertising Intern, I still get to see other aspects including sales, business development, and even the manual aspects, such as equipment and warehouse management. More specific to this particular internship, I get to learn about the ever-growing industry that is coffee.
I think it's a really important experience to work at a startup for anybody who wants to see an incarnation of "started from the bottom now we here." (I'm probably about to be slain for writing that.)
In terms of tangible perks at a company, I get bags and bags of some of the best coffee beans (Stumptown, Intelligentsia, Blue Bottle, Joe...), stickers and temporary tattoos from the companies we deliver to, as much coffee as I want in a day, and carbonated water!
Although, as an intern, my perks are a little less significant than, say, healthcare, benefits however small are important. They keep employees happy and motivated. They make people want to stay in the office longer, because they're comfortable and having fun. In terms of recruiting, it seems that the weirder or more unique the perks are, the more people will want to apply for jobs at the respective company.
For example, one of our accounts, Warby Parker provides warm cookies, barbecue, and even Pinkberry frozen yogurt. Artsy does a weekly happy hour. At Squarespace, another one of our accounts, midday meals are prepared for employees four days a week, and on the fifth, they order out. In other words, happiness.
Ultimately, perks seem to promote a happier and more productive working environment, and if that means an extra naptime or cold brew kegerator, so bean it.
Classic Coffee Joke Tuesday: Hold the sugar please, you're sweet enough for the both of us.