Coffee Shop Music Is Out of the Box

April 19, 2011

We understand “elevator music” and “brunch music”– music that’s so identified with a place, when you hear it, you know where you are. Though “coffee shop music” is more varied, it may be that your favorite café is identified with a certain sound. Tamara Ikenberg did some investigating this week and reported what she discovered from several different “hip” shops. The most important fact that Ikenberg relayed was that each coffee shop blends tunes that fit their particular clientele. Other than a shared rule that the music should not offend the customer, the shops derive their own playlists from their own formulas or paradigms. Interestingly enough, all three shops were quite different from each other. Heavy metal and “guitar shredding” music must fall under the rule of non-offending, because all three pretty much ruled that genre out. That’s where the similarity ends. Upbeat sounds define mornings in one shop, while another brews to jazz. One of the shops goes by mood of clientele and the weather. Some play albums while other subscribe to a music provider such as Sirius with its70 channels. In one shop the baristas write up a playlist that will define the day. There is definitely no way to characterize the three shops with any one sound. Does your café fit a pattern? Do you listen to the tunes or do you tune them out? Are you attracted to a shop because of its music, and conversely, do you avoid any one coffee shop because of its music? If you go to more than one, see if you can define each one by its sound. Though Ikenberg’s three shops do not provide enough of a basis for forming any conclusions, there seems to be far too much difference to develop any one “coffee shop music” definition. Btu if you frequent one coffee shop often enough, you’re sure to end up with a “sound” for that particular shop. We’d love to hear your different observations. Please feel free to share. And brew on… to music.



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