One of the many benefits of frequenting independent cafes and smaller chains over the behemoths is that the warmth and sense of community you can find in those places is far better than the erzatz comfort and faux fellowship engendered by the layout of your local Starbucks.
Today I stopped to a coffee bar in DC that I had been meaning to check out for some time, and behind the counter was a barista who used to work at a shop I regularly frequent. We don’t know each other’s names, we don’t know anything about each other (other than she remembers my usual drink), but I appreciated seeing her and it seemed she appreciated being remembered from her last gig.
When it comes down to it, that’s one of the biggest reasons we choose to go out for coffee; to be remembered, to feel appreciated, and to feel like we belong to a community. To quote the opening lyrics to the Cheers theme, sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name.
So be kind to your baristas, smile, chat with them, put the tip jar to good use, and come back often.