Coffeehouse culture

Once upon a time, coffeehouses were the place to go to discuss business news, political gossip, scientific breakthroughs or artistic developments. This was particularly true in 17th and 18th century England: cafes were essentially the social media of the day, not only for sharing but also as birthplaces of dissent and organized citizen movements.

So it was particularly poignant to hear Starbucks announce it would hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years. To be clear, that hiring plan is worldwide, so there’s no expectation of displacing current workers or replacing hiring programs currently in place for, say, military veterans or at-risk youth. But Starbucks’s announcement was a pointed response to the demonization of refugees.

Sprudge, a coffee industry trade publication, also organized its own event this weekend: “A Nationwide Coffee Fundraiser For The ACLU.” Sprudge will match the first $500 of donations to the ACLU raised or made by participating coffeeshops. Today, I went to a La Colombe coffeeshop, near my office, which is participating in the Sprudge event. I don’t normally go to La Colombe, but I made a point of it this afternoon and I expressed my appreciation for what they were doing. La Colombe is donating directly to the ACLU; they weren’t doing any direct fundraising from patrons. I had made already made a reasonable donation to the ACLU in December, on behalf of one of my sisters, but that seems ages ago. And while the ACLU’s coffers are filling quickly right now, you get the sense they’re going to need every penny.

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