I did a quick survey at Cafe Solstice about “What attracted you to Cafe Solstice?” And more than 80% of the people told me it was the place itself, and also the pastry, which is the second place with about 60% on my list. Sitting at the cafe doing my work and watching the people that walk in and walk out. I understand that cafe actually can provide this feeling of detachment from the world. It is a space that can provide you the individuality by a cup of a coffee, a laptop, and a piece of cookie. It is ‘your’ cafe, ‘your’ time’ at the moment. We are not detached, but we gained our individuality in the cafe, instead of following the flow out there.
From Dnaiel Kerr’s paper, what got into me is the meaning of being objective and also influential. He mentioned that sharing authority with others does not give up objectivity, which I believe in Cafe Solstice, everyone has the authority of defining this place they way they want. For me, is the place to get alone. And I believe, for a lot of people, it also applies.
From Paul Virilio’s paper, he argued about how new technology has affected our space and time. What makes we notice that we went into the city without a gate? Technology has brought us closer, but at the same time, the lines became broader. But the feeling of people is not able to be replaced by technology. When we walked into the cafe, that line is clear. It is the atmosphere in the cafe, and the people there that makes the difference. Although the image can be captured, the music can be recreated. The feeling is not able to replace.
Sometimes I wonder what makes a cafe unique. In Seattle, the origin of Starbucks, which we can also interpret the origin of the culture of cafe in the U.S. With such a rich culture in Seattle area, how did a cafe stand out?
Think about it, there are probably more than 10 cafes just within the U-District. Some of them are great for studying alone, chatting with friends, enjoying breakfast or brunch, or simply having great coffee. What is it, that Cafe Solstice attracted its unique customers?
I’ve been enjoying the atmosphere in Cafe Solstice. There’s always people there, but I won’t feel too crowded. Cafe Solstice stands out by being one of the cafe that is closest to the campus. Seeing from the outside, it really stands out from the other buildings around it. The lighting, the porch, and the glass wooden framed door really makes is different from the outside world.
Berger’s article has a lot to reflex on the Cafe culture. We valued coffee “from the cafe” a lot. Coffee becomes a symbol of relaxation, busy work style, and quality. It is really different when you made your own coffee compare to buy it from the cafe. The extra dollars we spent on the grande Caramel Macchiato is not because of the service or the ingredient, but the brand itself. The coffee that is poured in the cup by the barista that you take out to work is different from the coffee that was made from your coffee machine. It is also not the same to enjoy your cup of coffee at the cafe versus grabbing it to go. This can reflect on to what Berger said “The publicity images steals her love for herself as she is, and offers it back to her for the price of a product.” (134) The price we spent on the coffee offers back the same value to us. The cup of coffee also stole our love for ourselves that somehow, we look forward the branded name on the cup itself.
Again walking into Cafe Solstice in an afternoon. Few people are there chatting and studying. Every individual have a space that is hard to break through, but they are friendly and willing to help out others as well.
Elizabeth loves the white chocolate banana bread here. It is something that she always get at Cafe Solstice. She told me it is always hard to find a spot here that it is always packed with students. She likes the lay-back feeling of this space.
Some shared that this place is the ‘hipster hot spot,’ which I thought for a while and do agree it kind of make sense. The baristas have defined this place by their attitude. Some said they are rude, some said it didn’t really matter, some said it is actually a plus for the atmosphere of this place.
Heather shared with me that she loves the blend and all the house-made pastries. The cozy feeling always make her feels comfortable here. The music is sometimes loud but that is something unique here. Sitting at different area gave her very different feelings. When she just want to chill, she sat at the couch in the back. When she sat at the potio, she enjoyed the feeling of watching people walk by on the Ave and waiting at the bus stop. Sitting in the cafe, usually she could get her work done in a casual manner.
When walking into the cafe, you are immediately directed to the counter to order a cup of coffee. It didn’t let you go directly to the seat for you to put your stuff down. At the counter you first see the pastries, cookie, and cakes; great desserts to have with your coffee. The barista always seems busy and there is a distance between us and them because of the counter.
Tables and chairs are located really close to each other. You can easily hear the conversation next to your table. Most tables are designed for two person to have conversation or for individuals to do their works. Although people are sitting close to each other, the ceiling is really high that makes the space big and uncrowded.
It is a space that designed for people to enjoy their time here. The warm color of the cafe gives the warm feeling. And through the window, you can see the cold raining Seattle, people waiting buses, which is a completely different world out there. Coffee and the music are important elements for people to feel relax, and feel at home. The music is louder than the usual cafe, which is a unique element for Cafe Solstice to make it different from others. You immediately feel the difference once you step in the door. The physical boundaries, and the usage of light and color have defined the space. But for me in, when sitting in the cafe, looking out the window where the bus stop is. I think that is also part of the space that gives a special experience to seeing people waiting outside.
Here is the music that is one important element that makes up the atmosphere of Cafe Solstice.
I also found the facebook page of Cafe Solstice, which provides information of coming up events and also being interactive on the social media.
In response to Michel Foucault’s “Panopticism,” the space in Cafe Solstice doesn’t not represent particular power. In the space, people are fairly equal. Every individual gets his or her table and seat, and enjoy his or her moment with others. The power is scattered. The barista have a greater share of the power compare to the others that they are standing on the other side of the counter, which is a private space that the customers cannot cross. If the customer did, it would be a violation of power. Table and table doesn’t have a border line, as long as people not invading others’ private space too much. The atmosphere will be kept in harmony.
In response to Bruno Latour’s article, in Cafe Solstice, like other cafe, the cooperation between barista machine and barista takes a major role of this space. Without that area over at the counter, this space will be totally different. If the barista is not trained that could not properly make the coffee, then they could not create the atmosphere of this space.
Open the door, walking into the cafe. There are some magazine and flyers right in front of me on the shelves. They are flyers about the upcoming events. Turning right, follow the path, I see the pastries, cakes, drinks in the glass container. Beside that is the counter, then follows the bar. The whole Barista working area is blocked. Inside the Barista area, there are wine, coffee beans on the shelves. At the very end of that area, there is a shelf that has whole bunch of CDs. Opposite to the Barista area, there are tables and chairs, fairly crowded. Most of the seats are designed for individual to do work, people to have one to one conversation, or maybe enjoy a cup of coffee. Group of 3 or 4 is rare in the cafe. Further in the cafe, there’s a stage like area at the end. Walk up the steps on the stage, I see every corner of the cafe. Sitting down at a table that is next to the stage, which is probably designed for people to watch the show and put their drink up there. Now on the stage there is a couch next to the wall, a coffee table in front of the stage, and another bigger desk that can fit about 4 persons. At the other corner next to the stage, there are seats designed for group of 3 to 4 to chat beside the wall.
Most of the furniture are made out of wood. The wall is painted green and red. The tone of the light is warm and focused on the table for people to work at there. There are also lights that hit on the photographs that are on the wall. It looks like what gallery usually do. Spot light hits on the frame that has pictures of different places. There are price and name that labeled beside every picture. There are four speakers that are at different places on four side of the cafe. The roof is a gable that designed to have a slope descending from top to the side walls. There are two glass windows on the roof for the sun to come in. The ventilation system is disposed right under the roof. From where I sat, facing the entrance, I can see the window door at the front. Through the window, I see people waiting at the bus stop, and people passing by.
Walk toward the end of the cafe, there is a narrow hallway with posters on the wall, mostly about the local events. Restroom are at the right side of the hallway. Further down on the left is the kitchen that makes the pastries. At the end, walk out the emergency entrance, the outdoor area are designed for people to chat, have a pitch of beer, and enjoy their lives. Round tables with umbrellas.
It is interesting how these visual sites make me think. The possibility that this place was a bar would never came to my mind without really start observing it. The reflexivity and subjectivity gave me a lot of ideas to think of. Is my guessing of people come here like I do, to work on their work, a reflexivity of mine or not? What’s something really represent this place? What makes this place that is different from the other cafe? I don’t have these answers now.
Sitting at the counter, I see there are red Christmas decoration light on top of the Barista area. The floor is made in dark red wood. Not a lot of color in the cafe, mostly just brown and red that let people feel warm. The music that the cafe played is some kind of rock that I cannot name. The physical space is similar to Cafe on the Ave, but has a very different culture. It gives a more warm feeling. It is a wider space compare to Cafe Allegro and Ugly Mug. Seems like Cafe Solstice will become my temporarily secondary home for now.
Didn’t bring the camera, maybe will start taking pictures for next time.
Hello, this is Jack. I am a student, who goes to school and learn from professors in the University. At the same time, I am a software engineer, who have a computer mindset, and solve problems with codes. I am also a business man, leveraging people to help solve the issue around me and help me to achieve my goal. It is hard to shortly describe who I am. But the identity you need to know about me is that, I am a listener, constant learning things from my surrounding. observing the incidents and people that have taught me a lot of things in the daily life. This blog will not only be a record about what’s happening around me, but with stories and emotion that shows who I am.