Let me paint you a familiar picture.
You walk into a coffee shop and there are no seats. It’s a full house. A table is shared by two strangers; the back of their laptops nearly touch each other as they are face-deep into their respective screens. There are two cups on the table, one for each customer, but the liquid inside both has grown cold. The sugar has settled at the bottom. They occassionally look up or grab hold of their drink and stir it, only to be immersed again into technology after a sip.
There are other customers camped alongside the wall, each with their laptop and headphones.
The American coffee shop became everyone’s study hall sometime during the Starbucks revolution. The scene pictured is familiar and expected now. What do coffee shop goers say are their non-negotiables when it comes to a good coffee shop?
1) Wi-Fi Availability 2) Sitting Space 3) A Working Wi-Fi 4) Cards Accepted 5) Coffee…
General consensus has pressured business into providing wireless internet for their customers, and this is no different in Echo Park. So was I surprised when I visited Echo Park’s Tierra Mia (on Alvarado and Sunset) and saw no laptops, or received no WiFi signal?
It was a welcome change. Granted I wasn’t looking to study or work and was simply there to enjoy the coffee, but here are 5 reasons, Tierra Mia, you should stay WiFi free
1) Your Coffee
You want to market your product, and it’s your coffee and drink concoctions. It’s not how many megabytes I can download per minute, how cool your web portal looks, how convenient it is to log on to your network, or how many seats you have for leeches to grab with their laptops. Your product comes in liquid form, hot or cold. Your customers enter your shop to purchase the product, and while inside, that product needs to be one of the lasting experiences of being there.
On my visit, I took a minute to decide what to purchase, looked forward to my drink, and enjoyed it in-store.
2) Enough WiFi Around
Hipsters have enough wireless internet to go around in the neighborhood, seriously. Okay, I don’t know who exactly I’m referring to when I say hipster in this case–maybe just anyone who’s going to camp at a coffee shop for alone time with their laptop or tablet–but there are other options for people to get their WiFi juice.
3) Space and Seating
The last thing you need, Tierra Mia, is for customers to trip over backpacks and chords in your narrow coffee shop, or worse, have WiFi zombies sitting on your indoor staircase. You’ll also have to hire a new staff member to routinely walk outside to get people to vacate your patio chairs and tables. It’ll be a mess.
And as for people who came to your shop to enjoy your coffee with friends? You’ll have to give them the boot, unwillingly.
4) Showcase Your Decoration and Setting
Normally, after ordering a coffee or drink, a WiFi-crazed individual looks to sit, unpack all of the chords or technology, and log on to the grid. On my visit there, I couldn’t help but check out the decoration. You’ve got large photographs that represent the countries and coffee sources where you obtain your coffee. You could always switch these up to keep things fresh.
I saw photographs of El Salvador, Panama, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, Honduras, etc. I read the captions, learned about the locations, studied the images, and discussed some of them with friends. Which leads to…
Let me take you back to the scene I described in the beginning–one thing that’s missing is human interaction. The drones at WiFi-equipped coffee shops only correspond electronically. You can’t accidentally overhear some group’s lousy stories, or see a couple speaking softly while sipping their Horchata Frappe’s. In your current shop, it’s a guarantee that if people sit together, they’ll discuss something, and it won’t be a series of retweets or likes.
Look, if I haven’t convinced you yet, let me quote a Yelper on Tierra Mia’s Echo Park Yelp page:
She says, “Get WiFi and I’ll come here all the time for work and bit of heaven.”
It’s a no brainer. Have them come for a bit of heaven.
Tierra Mia Store Front by Yelp Member X X.
Tierra Mia coffee and Horchata Frappe by Echo Park Forums staff.