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San Francisco Coffee Shop Bans “Hipster Topics,” Instagram

Submitted by on August 27, 2012 – 4:33 pm24 Comments

A hip San Francisco coffee shop is taking aim at the annoying types who can ruin a peaceful day at the cafe. But depending on who you ask, the management is either protecting the experience for other customers- or biting the hand that feeds them.

Four Barrel Coffee in San Francisco recently posted a notice to its customers, requesting that they be more considerate of neighborhood residents. The actions requested included: keeping the sidewalk clear, keeping voices at “reasonable levels,” and “not talking about annoying hipster topics like who you fucked last night” (which the posting noted was a verbatim complaint from a neighbor).

When photos of the list went viral on social media, the coffee shop added: “Not posting this on Instagram, you hipster.”

This coffee shop is already winning my approval, but Four Barrels also does something closer to home for me: not offering wi-fi, they discourage laptop and tablet usage.

So if a high priced coffee shop in one of San Francisco’s trendiest districts isn’t for people working, isn’t for people chatting (loudly), and isn’t for hipsters, who could it possibly be for?

Last year, Virginia Heffernan wrote in the New York Times about coffee shops banning e-readers. Dissecting the centuries-old politics of cafe etiquette, Heffernan suggests that the coffee shop is in fact for all of these people, and that they must learn to live together:

Unwholesome things have always happened wherever people drink coffee together. They gossip and complain about powerful jerks; they read, write and scheme about their own comebacks. On the sidelines of those conversations — muttering, silently judging, chiming in — have always been loners who loiter with books and newspapers all day, ready to be recruited into conversation. This might come as hard news to would-be restaurateurs looking only to taste that sweet margin of coffee markup, but loiterers and readers must be part of the cafe equation. People who sit at bars are going to make out and brawl; people who sit in cafes are going to read and talk.

And often what they’re reading and talking about is unsavory. Coffeehouse patrons have always been a little bit . . . wired. This has been true at least since 1555, when the world’s first coffeehouses opened in Istanbul. High on caffeine and impromptu colloquy, 16th-century coffee­house patrons denounced the government. Sultans didn’t like it. Later, in 1675, Charles II described the coffeehouses in England as “places where the disaffected met and spread scandalous reports concerning the conduct of His Majesty and his Ministers.” In 1721, Montesquieu wrote of the coffeehouse scene in France: “Were I the King, I would close the cafes, for the people who frequent those places heat their brains in a very tiresome manner. I would rather see them get drunk in taverns. Then, at least, they would harm only themselves, while the intoxication which coffee arouses in them causes them to endanger the country’s future.”

She concludes that the beauty of coffee shops is that no one’s loud conversation yields to anyone else’s.

As for the neighbors of these coffee shops? Well, they were probably annoyed back in 16th century Istanbul too, and I’m not sure anything was ever resolved.

What do you think? Should laptops and Instagram be banned in coffee shops? Should loud, inappropriate conversations?

[via TechCrunch]

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