Ode to Coffee Shop Music

coffee collage

Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
       Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
/ John Keats, Ode to A Grecian Urn
If it wasn’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever.
/ David Letterman

Coffee shops are my happy places. There’s just something about a small space brimming with the sharp smell of roasted coffee and the pleasant din of voices and Macbook keyboards and espresso machine steam that makes me smile. Coffee shops are also usually nicer than my apartment – stylish in glass or steel or sea-weathered wood; and neat, having been cleaned at least once a day, every day – and therefore more pleasant to be in than my place.

They’re also the only readily available locations that I can get any work done efficiently, thanks to my father, who used to refuse to turn off the TV while I was doing homework in the attached, adjacent dining room. He’d holler, “I’m training her to be able to concentrate in any situation!” over the crunching sound of the Undertaker body-slamming Triple H into the ground,


and his “training” worked, kind of: turn on some music, have a conversation in the background, add the noise of one hundred students fidgeting and coughing and scratching at paper with ballpoint pens – oh, great!

But situations involving total silence – libraries, study halls, my apartment – basically all traditional places of study: I can’t concentrate at all.

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