Missional Space: The Coffee Shop

Last week, I asked you to answer some questions about a missional space where you spend a lot of time. Here is one example from my life: the coffee shop.

First, a brief qualification: there are many types of coffee houses all with various focuses. I firmly believe that the gospel is best communicated through sustained relationship. Therefore, the exemplar coffee shop I will be describing is one that has created a culture of interpersonal interaction.


1. Describe the types of people it attracts.

Consumers are the ones who want a quick espresso or cold brew. They may stay a few minutes or an hour but are not invested in the shop. Investors are the faces seen 2-3x a week. There is a spectrum of expectation regarding their investment—some invest because they enjoy the spirit of the place; others just enjoy the coffee and need the wi-fi. But there’s a regularity in their presence. Baristas are the culture-shapers of the shop. They provide the verve and set the tenor of the atmosphere and are not “just” a barista.


2. What is its reason for existence? What is its highest goal and purposes?

The coffee shop I’m describing exists to be a social hub of a neighborhood. Similar to the lunch hall at school, it facilitates interpersonal interactions and allows for the swapping of all types of information. Interpersonal and swapping of information; these are the twin functions of the coffee shop and its highest goals and purpose.


3. Describe the most desirable values of the space.

Authentic. Informed and informative. Ingenuity. Uniqueness. Respect. Intelligence. Creativity. Speed.


4.     What are its biggest fears?

 Coffee shops primarily fear becoming irrelevant spaces. This can take the form of bad coffee, stifling the unique spirit of the investors or baristas, pretentiousness of baristas or patrons, inauthenticity of its own identity. Mostly a coffee shop becomes irrelevant when a neighborhood stops trusting it as a source of current information. From this, it loses ingenuity, creativity, and its capacity to be informed and to inform.


To be continued: Later in the week, I'll take this spade work and turn it into a practical way forward—that meaning, knowing what I know about the coffee shop, how can I best occupy it in a way that communicates the gospel