Community

Reflecting back on the time I spent at Vita I would definitely say that my perspective of the space has changed. When I first started to analyze the space I didn’t know what my theme would amount to at the end of the project. After spending enough time within the walls of the space a theme developed from the energy surrounding the cafe. One thing about coffee is it sure brings a wide variety of people together into one common area. I have always associated coffee with community and Vita was no exception. Within the first two times of researching inside Caffe Vita the theme of community was bold and vivid in front of my face.

People meet gather and express themselves in a variety of ways inside the cafe. It is used for business meetings, study groups, to form non profit organizations, to read in an energetic area, to create, express and tackle any challenging creative endever. The need for caffeine in Seattle is apparent. The long gray dull skies that seem to constantly mist out rain brings a need for coffee in a way that most cities wont even need to imagine. So it seems fitting that the cafe brings in every stock of life and is used as a common meeting area.

Not only does the cafe provide a place for people to flock to it also does its share to reach out to the community. Caffe Vita spends a lot of time and resources to help the community locally and internationally. Form donating coffee to organizations to making sure that the international community that is helping maintain the quality of the coffee and products get treated fairly and ethically Caffe Vita supports all aspects of the community.

Michael De Certeau and Robert Smithson’s writings have to do with how we explore and view the city. How we can view the city from an outside and inside perspective.

The “Situationist Manifesto” talks about situationist culture. How it is an art of dialoge and interaction between people. It proclaims to want total participation from the society we live in. We need to organize and ingage into our community.

I really enjoyed watching the first episode of “Crack the Surface.” I saw the second episode before the first. It really shows the underground cities that exist to help maintain the above ground cities. How we have developed cities into functional places that can maintain great populations. The website place hacking complimented the video and showed some amazing pictures and articles on the people exploring their own cities especially in the UK. Place in Place of Alexandria was also about exploring cities. It was performing art of just simply walking the city. Jeremy Beaudry’s site deals with how humankind constructs the idea of nature through romantic visions steming from disaster to perfection.

Creating Media in Vita

While frequenting Vita over the last couple of months I have had time to create a lot of media in my Moleskin that I bring with me. Caffe Vita gives me time to sit, ponder, observe and create. I use this time to let the feel of the cafe and my wondering thoughts steer my drawings. There is a creative atmosphere that surrounds Vita. The people around me fuel my drawings because as I look around at everyone they are all deeply immersed into their own projects. This energy drives the media I create and I have already ended up completing an entire moleskin. From these sketches that I produce some of them have led me to refine them and make them a fully created piece.

This way of creating media within the space has let me experience Vita differently then I have preciously experienced Vita. It now reflects a space of creativity for me. I also notice that it seems to be a place of creative energy for other people as well. The people that I notice working on their own media tend to be patrons who frequent Vita often. Having a space where you can go to zone out the outside world and other distractions helps me push my artwork. It gives me quality and quantity and helps me reach the goals that I have set for myself in the art world. Using this form of media has let me feel as if im in an agreed upon setting, collective mind frame with the common activities that the patrons of Vita participate in. It has helped me define what coffee culture brings to communities. Cafe such as Vita tend to be a place where people can take time in their day to read, write and immerse themselves fully into their chosen creative outlet.

The art hanging from the walls of Vita is also another source of inspiration. Artwork cycles in and out every month. Seeing how Vita supports the art community gives me more of a drive to create quality work. It drives me to create work that I can one day hang on the walls of Caffe Vita.

John Berger’s book “Ways of Seeing” was very interesting. I agree with a lot of his points in that we live in a society driven by male thought. We have grown up in a world bombarded with media that controls the way we see things in reality. I find it very interesting the way we see the male and female body and how we attribute certain characteristics to each. A scene from a movie that pops up in my head when thinking of Bergers writing is “Goodbye Lenin.” The scene from the movie that appears in my mind is when the mom (who still thinks she is living in communist East Berlin) sees Coca-Cola banners being unraveled from buildings from her apartment. The intense imagery of corporate national advertisement shocks her and leads to her son lying to her saying that East Berlin is receiving much needed money from Coca-Cola to display their advertisement behind the wall. It is interesting to see the initial shock from someone who’s life has never been confronted with western capitalistic advertisement when it is all of a sudden literally rolled out in front of their faces.

Stuart Halls writing “The Perspective of the Other” expands and compliments Berger’s writing on dealing with the Other. I think Stuart’s writing was refreshing in that I feel we don’t talk about the “other” enough or why we view the “other.” It’s always nice to expand ones ideas on difference and to talk about why there’s a difference.

“Life in a Day” was a unique documentary in that it was filmed by many different people from across the world to make one cohesive film. I found the images chosen very interesting in that I feel it only lets people who have access to video cameras the option of involving themselves in the film. It also only allows people who have heard of this project to participate in the film. I think the film was beautifully edited and made me feel happy at the end but also thought it only represented a certain percentage of the world.

Interview with Tyler a barista and Caffe Vita patron

Do you drink coffee daily?
Yes!

Do you believe coffee becomes just an addiction to caffeine or is there something else that draws you in?
Its a habit with benefits- baristas can be a reason to get some coffee, or if one needs a “home away from home” that is comfortable and inviting.

How long have you been working as a Barista?
2 years

Do coffee shops create community? If so what is it about coffee that you feel creates a community?
Yes, coffee is a stimulating drink where action and communication come hand in hand with the caffeine, – it draws people into coming together.

Do you feel Caffe Vita has done a good job creating a community?
Yes – they support local groups, businesses and people that bring people together. They are always sponsoring or putting on events.

Do you feel Caffe Vita does a good job at drawing people to become part of the community?
Yes, and it keeps getting better! They are finding new ways to get involved with the community all the time. Plus, they have a name that is publicly known as being very community-oriented, and not just for a small group within the community, they reach people from all walls of life.

Do you feel that smaller coffee chains opposed to companies such as Starbucks have an easier time creating community? If no why? If yes how?
The communities that are created are fundamentally different- Vita is local-oriented, more personal and appears to be more community-driven than profit-driven companies.

Do you think a Baristas soul purpose is just to make coffee for customers? Or in some way do you feel that they have to somehow draw people into stay and come back time after time?
Baristas fulfill both of these purposes- “barista” is italian for “bartender” – they are a friendly spirit who can entertain and listen ar the same time. When someone gets to know a barista and visa-versa, it becomes a coffee “experience” rather than just a coffee drink.

I heard through the grapevine that Caffe Vita is expanding nationally to New York and Los Angeles. How do you feel about their expansion? Especially sine Seattle is a hub for independent coffee chains. By spreading the independent brewing industry to other parts of the country do you feel it is opening up the world to this community?
I take an optimistic viewpoint on this subject- Although they are expanding and moving out of just the Pacific Northwest, I still think they will entrench themselves within any local community where they set up shop. Based on my experience they care just as much about the space and people they do business for as they roast and serve.

I thought the readings and website were very interesting this week. I felt that Marshall McLuhan’s article was very futuristic even though it was written in the late 60’s. I dont believe he’s right about everything but the way he imagines everything as extensions of ourselves I couldn’t help but think of George Orwells book “1984”. The website “Welcome to Pine Point” was also very interesting. It dealt with the complete opposite view of McLuhan’s as it recalled a town that has been wiped off the map. It is looking at the past where so many memories have formed among that space.

Landmark upon the Landscape


Caffe Vita is a unmistakable landmark upon the landscape of Capitol Hill. It is where hoards of locals go to guzzle down their boosts that drives them through a Seattle winter. Caffe Vita blends perfectly onto Pike street with an easily recognizable sign that guides you into its doors. The whole space is strategically used and is set up to be inviting to the customer. The front of the space primarily works to help the hundreds of patrons get their coffee, while the back of the shop is a factory that roasts coffee for coffee shops all around the country. The back seems to be an area that is restricted to go in unless an authority figure lets you in. There is a self policing door that does not invite people in. Although there is an aspect of self policing, the 10 ft window that opens up to the sitting area is a way where people can survey and even police the roasters roasting the coffee. Every little mistake can be seen through this window. It is as if they are working in a large fishbowl. The customer is now the panopticon guard and the employee is the occupant in the system.
All the different crawl spaces and giant machinery seems like a perfect place to defend of an attack from the pitch-black aliens from Attack the Block. Although its not an ideal space like the English block I believe I know the area well enough to pinpoint different niches that would be perfect for surviving.
When you walk through the doors you are instantly drawn to the Barista working the front till. They orient you through the maze of people and provide you with a rich cup of coffee. There are set up boundaries around the shop. The entrance door is located on the front of the building that is very inviting because it has a big glass doors that can be looked through to see the conditions of the interior of the shop. Once you are standing in the shop there are two areas to sit. The back of the shop is guarded by to large doors that can’t be seen through and look very restricted and cut off any civilian activity. The large window in the sitting area is the only place you can see whats back there. There appears to also be a downstairs but a door is blocking your way down. Everywhere else in the shop is fair game to roam around.
There is a homely feel about Caffe Vita. Its lights are dimmed and there is a blast of music that hits you no matter where you are in the shop. There are usually familier faces sitting down inside that also draw you in for a good conversation. The coffee bar is set up to direct human traffic. You enter the building, move down the line, the Barista takes your order while taking your money. You move off to the right to wait for your drink that will be handed to you from a slot on the counter, then instantly behind you is all the fixings you need to completely customize your drink. Lucky for the Baristas there is no anthropomorphic device that has been made that could replace their actions behind the counter. There is no lack of masses helping the customer pull shots to throw in a warm cup of coffee.

Observing the Layout

The facade of Caffe Vita is now an iconic mark on Central Capitol Hill. A charcoal gray wall with a khaki split invites you in with the help from a large white and red neon light hanging from the second story that can be seen from down the block. Three large square panned windows turn the first floor seating area into a fish bowl while fifties style slit windows vents out the smell of coffee from the second story.

Entering through the stage doors you arrive in a large sectioned area that attacks your senses by blasting music and reeking of coffee. To your immediate left is a stairwell leading up to the second story. To your immediate right is a display case holding miniature coffee cups, event listings, postcards and newspapers that are spread out in a chaotic fashion. Hanging on the black wooden casing of the stairwell is different Caffe Vita merchandise including coffee accessories and clothing with the Caffe Vita logo on them, as well as a whole wall with different kinds of Caffe Vita coffee beans. Underneath the stairwell going up, is a stairwell going down which is blocked off by the door leading to the mysterious underbelly of the Cafe.

The Barista’s bar is in the first section of the first story. The bar is covered with different coffee equipment including a large Kyoto drip machine and a large black industrial espresso machine that together look like they belong in a science lab. The register is next to the small glass case of food. The food reflects through the scratched glass tantalizing your stomach with perfect pairings to go with your cup of coffee. In the back of the bar is a diner style window that when looked through shows the massive storage room for the barista’s up front. Next to the Bar is another theatre style door that leads into the warehouse.

The unisex bathroom is located down a short hall from the factory doors. Inside the bathroom is a square black tiled room with a toilet sink, a garbage and a air dryer all of which are used as canvas’ by the countless scribes that wonder in and out. A condiment station and old hemp coffee bags separate the seating area from the rest of the space. 12 brown wooden tables and 42 black wooden chairs occupy the seating area that is spread out in a sporadic order according to who last was there. Art adorns the desert red and camal walls of the seating area giving the area a greater sense of community in that the art is usually created by local artists.

There is a large rectangular window opening up the seating area to the factory. Peering through the window you can see different offices with shut doors and a large area to roast an pack coffee. A large “Old Glory” hangs from the wall where two giant German looking coffee roasters lay waiting to stir up and roast some beans. On the opposite wall in the seating area are the three square window’s that gaze out onto one of the most active streets in Seattle Pike.

Going up the stairwell you arrive in the second story seating area. This seems to be a quiet sitting area because the music is quieter and the people talk at a whisper. There are about ten brown wooden chairs with an additional 42 chairs to sit the masses. Looking up you can see an exposed roof that looks like an old black wooden floor with large black support beams and the ground is made from brown wooden planks. On all the tables are past notes and insignias carved that record some of the tables past history.

Caffe Vita is laid out quiet well and makes a great comfortable place for people to meet and get their daily does of caffeine.

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