Coffee inn - the phenomenon :)

Article published on Jan. 31, 2009
community published
Article published on Jan. 31, 2009
Paradoxically, it provides a space to be comfortably alone or with friends, to read and update your blog, to spend time when you have too much and grab a take-away coffee when you have too little. An illusion of a public space so much needed in Vilnius. Yesterday I had some time before meeting my friend, so I went to spend it in one of the cafes of the Coffee Inn network.
This network was established when I was still living in Budapest. So, after I came back, my friends saw it a duty to introduce me to the new trendiest place - the cafe next to the Gedimino avenue. It is located under some big stairs, so in summer people just take their favourite coffee and sit on these stairs. It started from one cafe, but quickly became a network. Recently one Coffee inn opened right next to my office. Typically these cafes have free wireless and are able to create a cosy atmosphere.The one I went to on Friday had several bookshelves, so I took a book, a cup of coffee and sat there for more than an hour, waiting for my friend to arrive. I wonder, what does this network survive on? One can take a small cup of "coffee of the week" (5 LTL - ~1,5 EUR) and sit there for hours, reading books, chatting and browsing the web. I've read that many bloggers go there to update their blogs - including me sometimes. So, with the books and the habits of people to take one cup of coffee and sit for hours, these cafes are always full. Maybe they earn their profits from the rushing people who grab their take-aways and run to their offices, or simply down the street, sipping their coffee while walking. Maybe the atmosphere really lulls the youngsters and the bloggers to stay longer and longer, to take one coffee after another until they can't sleep at night, and get a chocolate chip cookie with coffee.Yesterday as I was sitting there, the place was full of teenagers. They were all over the place and very noisy, chatting about parties, boyfriends, schools and what not. Someone brought a dog along, and other groups of teenagers enjoyed petting the dog walking around. I was thinking: in fact, if it's not the "coffee of the week", and not a small cup, a paper mug of coffee (I couldn't believe my years after coming to live in Vilnius that last summer it was considered very fashionable to carry around one of the Coffee Inn cups) costs them 2-2.5 EUR (an average salary in Lithuania is around 500 EUR after tax). If they hang out there for a longer time, I guess they take more than one cup. So, how much pocket money from their parents do these teenagers need nowadays to hang out with friends in this trendy place?Coffee Inn is a business, and I bet it does earn juicy profits. Yet, paradoxically, it provides a space to be comfortably alone or with friends, to read and update your blog, to spend time when you have too much and grab a take-away coffee when you have too little. An illusion of a public space so much needed in Vilnius.