What is the difference between a coffeeshop (Kopitiam) and cafe? Well, the main difference I guess is in the pricing. One cup of kopi-o cost only a dollar plus whereas a long black from Starbucks would probably cost you around $4 to $5. Of course, other than the pricing, you have nice, comfortable sofas in a cafe…while in coffeeshop, you only have plastic chairs to comfort your butt. However, minus all these, you will find very little functional differences between a coffeeshop and cafe. Last week, I was at the coffeeshop near my humble home after fetching my niece from school. I brought her to the coffeeshop for lunch and this is what I saw. I saw a whole group of HDB (government housing in Singapore) aunties (housewives) sitting at a table. It really felt like some sort of King Arthur’s roundtable kind of setting. The first question that came to my mind was, “Why don’t they have to work?” What a bliss to know that these people who contributed to the unemployment rate in Singapore are actively engaged in a coffeeshop! Anyway, most of them were carrying an iPhone 4 or 4S except one who was carrying an iPhone 5. There were some loose copies of that day’s newspaper lying around. These copies are very important to them. They would pick up any topic that would catch their eyes and they would start their forum with that.
What was most intriguing was that they were talking and discussing about the latest applications in smartphone. One was sharing about a game that she recently downloaded and was teaching another aunty how the game is played. Another was sharing an application that would allow them to watch movies. I was so impressed by the level of IT savviness in Singapore. I am so proud to be a Singaporean.
I tried to cut and paste in my mind this scene into a Starbucks setting. I must say that the cut somehow doesn’t fit the paste. I couldn’t imagine this same group of aunties doing the same thing in a Starbucks setting. Don’t get me wrong! I am not saying that Starbucks is more high-class than coffeeshop. What I am trying to bring across is this differences in coffee culture within a same country and generations. I find this interesting. In a way, coffee has transcends generations and age. This is amazing!
As I travelled from shore to shore, I have come across various coffee cultures and there is one thing that is so constant, that is the exchange of ideas over a cup of fragrant coffee. These exchange of ideas has definitely add to the already aromatic flair of coffee, making it more irresistable. The next time when you savour a cup of coffee…think a little bit more…