Young adults utilize local cafes as a necessary way to network

Coffee shops replace diners as local hot spots for teens


Sydnie Bierma

The “traditional” Instagram story post shared by local teens. This friend group met up on their Monday off of school to gather and catch up. A coffee shop provides a safe space for young adults to be together and open up.

There are many generational differences between Generation Z and previous generations. One of these large differences is the dedication to personal time. If one were to enter a local coffee shop they would find that the majority of people occupying that space are under the age of 20. Whether it’s catching up with friends, skipping a class, studying for a final, or writing their college essay–something is always going down at a local coffee shop. 

The trend of teens frequenting coffeeshops was most likely started through media posts from different influencers or even other classmates. According to senior Claire Illenburg, “The more aesthetically pleasing a coffee shop is, the more people want to go.” Teens can all recognize the infamous Instagram story post of the cute little table with an iced matcha and avocado toast, or the VSCO post of the aesthetically set up coffee bar. Viewing these images makes local teens drool over not only the coffee, but the entire cafe experience. Teens anxiously await for the weekend or the next Monday off they have of school to hit up their local coffee bar. 

The fundamental idea of a gathering place develops through each generation individually. Currently, going out to get coffee is the new obsession, but in the 50s, diners were all the rage. High schoolers would go after their Friday night pep rally, and new couples would embark on their very first date in that same diner booth on Saturday. 

Gathering place ideology is extremely important and holds lots of social value for juveniles and young adults. Teens and college students can go table to table checking in on their peers or meeting others for the first time. Senior Miguel Tejeda, a social butterfly, exclaimed, “I love talking to everyone in public because I feel so fulfilled knowing that everyone is vibing together.” From football games to local coffee shops, he’s always on the move and constantly jumping from group to group. What used to be an occurrence at local diners has now become the norm at hometown coffee shops and cafes. 

While coffee shops are popular places to gather and network, they have also become a huge part of improving youths’ mental health. In the past, young adults often bottled up their emotions and didn’t take their much needed personal time. Going to a coffee shop for a couple hours can provide teens with an escape from their own reality. “It’s a good place to think if I want to think and have my own time away from my family,” claimed Anna Burkhead in reference to why she likes to go out to coffee. Burkhead often goes to local cafes or even drives a city over to find the perfect spot to get work done for a couple hours and be in her own sanctuary. While studying, she often listens to music and loses track of time: “It’s like the world is on pause for a moment and it’s so nice.”

Ultimately, although coffee shops have become vastly popular through media, that doesn’t degrade their purpose and the idea of well being behind them. For young adults, local cafes are a hangout spot, replacing the past diners older generations used to frequent. They also are extremely beneficial for teens struggling with their mental health. 

It’s like the world is on pause for a moment and it’s so nice.

— Anna Burkhead

Gen Z as a whole has found a plethora of new ways to connect with their friends. Coffee shops and local cafes are just one example of how the idea of a central gathering place has changed over the years.