Upon first entrance, one may be slightly overwhelmed with the heavy aroma of crushed coffee beans and hints of vanilla and mocha dampening the warm air. The soft yellow glow descending from the ceiling lights offer little illumination for students who settle themselves on the wooden tables, hustling with worksheets and tirelessly working the pen.
Oftentimes, one may find a familiar face residing amongst the muffled crowd, and with a simple exchange of “hey, how’ve you been?” the world no longer feels so lonely under the roof of the local coffee shop, Starbucks. As stereotypical sleep-deprived Asian students whose lives revolve around studying, Starbucks is the refuge away from the toxic educational climate of high school students. The disparities across the intellect spectrum, for a short while at the very least, are set aside for a cup of coffee.
It is the community of our era; everyone, connected under the same coffee shop, yet so distant from each other as we attend to our individual agendas, some colliding with others. Those wooden tables, sometimes decorated with bread crumbs from the previous visitor, are not just signified as homey décor. At least for myself, those tables can be deemed as my second home; eight hours a day during the weekend, four hours a day during the weekdays, I settle myself on those tables to study without a pause. Tears are shed, frustration is shared, happiness is brought forward — all of which is a part of studying culture.
However, not all memories of such coffee shops are filled with hours of studying. Some days in this very coffee shop are remembered because of the people, rather than the paperwork and textbooks. Awkward love stories sometimes begin at the same coffee shop tables, friendships blossom under a shared mocha Frappuccino, and countless study dates are cherished with peach teas and venti iced waters.
Despite the hardships of studying that have become a major attachment to our everyday lives, this humble café remains a place where our primitive senses are calmed by the sweet, yet bitter taste of coffee as we discover solace in the simplicity of this caffeinated drink.