White, middle-class college students love coffee shops.
This statement is undeniably factual. According to my own research, roughly 37 billion trillion ounces of coffee are consumed every year by students at public universities.
With so many liberal-minded people gathering to talk about such cool things as Africa and the Dave Matthews Band, coffee shops have become outlets catering to cool peoples’ need to be seen by other cool people. And because things that white, middle-class college students love are ultimately adopted by important people as national symbols of coolness (i.e. Obama’s “Change,” environmentalism’s “Green lifestyle,” and Bono’s “Bono”), they can be harnessed to increase your own personal coolness.
That being said, here are a few tips on how to be perceived as “cool” in coffee shops, which, in turn, will ultimately increase your overall coolness exponentially.
Always try to look bored or disinterested.
This is easily the foremost component in maintaining coffee shop coolness. By appearing interested in the book you are reading, the person you are talking to, or any menu item, you are broadcasting to everybody within a 20-meter* radius that you obviously don’t come here often enough (or read enough, or talk enough) to be completely unsurprised by anything that ever happens, ever. This is a general rule that can be applied to virtually all aspects of coffee shop coolness.
Order the biggest cup of the darkest coffee available.
Learn to use the phrase, “Give me a [largest size] of your boldest coffee.” This tells the barista (that’s college student-talk for “employee”) that you are, at minimum, a Level-8 coffee drinker, and a very cool person. It also impresses other college students that you can handle a two-story-tall vat of scalding hot diesel.
Conditioning is the key to this part of coffee shop coolness. Spend time in the weeks preceding your visit steadily increasing your coffee intake and its darkness. Too much too early is a common rookie mistake.
Reference foreign news constantly.
Realistically, you and everybody else care more about the municipal council’s decision to fill in the pothole down the street than they do the election of the new Chilean prime minister. However, by dropping that latter little bit of knowledge into your conversation, you are leading everybody to assume you know so much about local and domestic happenings that they are of little consequence to you.
This ties back to the first tip about appearing constantly disinterested in everything. One hint on staying up on foreign news: Make it up. The more obscure the country, the better (and more difficult to fact-check!).
People With Macs are "coffee shop-better" than other people.
It’s true. The coffee shop coolness hierarchy goes something like this, from bottom to top: tourists, old people ("old" meaning 43 or older), engineering students, people who "do lunch" with their co-workers, punk music fans, techno music fans, history students, young-ish English professors with tweed jackets, Wilco fans, and finally, People With Macs.
Those who spend hours behind their little glowing Apple logos with their earbuds hooked to their brains are so much cooler than everybody else, simply because everybody else wants to know what they’re doing but can’t (unless they’re seated immediately behind said Person With Mac). Alt-country fans assume they’re stoically analyzing the lyrics to Uncle Tupelo’s Anodyne, while others understand that this is how He or She is so informed about South American politics.
The Mac also completely rules out the possibility that you are studying anything concerning mathematics or hard science. That stuffy crap is for PCs, and they are majors which require only cheap, poor-quality coffee for success.
So there you have it – how to increase your coolness by way of the most difficult and rewarding vehicle, the coffee shop. Not everyone can truly pull it off, and it normally requires years of practice. Just do your best not to spill it on yourself.
*The metric system is European. Measure by it whenever possible.