The Coffee Culture

    Southern Oregon may be known for a lot of things. Some great….some not so great (you’ll have to figure those out on your own!). Off the top of their heads, a lot of people think of healthcare, car sales, and lumber when they think Southern Oregon. But any good So. Or resident—once they stop and think—would tell you that when they think of home, they think of coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Drive thru’s on every other corner and quaint, cozy shops on the others. Most with coffee beans roasted locally and selections and variety you just won’t find anywhere else.

    Seattle may be known as the coffee capital of the nation, but (in my opinion), that’s only because they have the most Starbucks per capita in the country (and “they” haven’t been to Southern Oregon). And really, what makes having a Starbucks on every corner that desirable? I drink my fair share of Starbucks, but, frankly, it’s one veined, and to most people, their coffee is really bitter. Starbucks has been there for me when I was pregnant and had these weird cravings for strong, bitter coffee…thanks Starbucks. It’s also there for me when I want coffee flavored milk with tons of high quality caramel drizzle in it. But if I actually want a coffee that’s a perfect balance of sweet and smooth, I’ll go elsewhere. Which is when it gets really fun.

    One of the bonuses of living in a capitalist society is that it creates competition in most markets and this is exactly what has happened to the coffee market in Southern Oregon. We have 7 Starbucks within about a 30-mile radius of Medford, but we also have at least 20 other shops—all with their own brand, culture and flair. It’s so awesome! And those are just the shops….we have at least 25 (probably a lot more!) drive thru’s as well, of at least 4 major brands. Depending on your mood, craving and location, you have options!

    If you haven’t caught on from my previous blogs (or haven’t read them *gasp*), I have kids. Lots of them. I also homeschool. I’m also insane. Haha kidding. Kinda. Ok, so I can’t think at home. Not about things besides cooking, cleaning, schooling, etc… I am blessed with a mom that is willing to hold down the fort at the insane asylum house so I can get out sometimes and think child-free. Where do I go? Coffee shops!! I’ve been doing it for years and it almost makes working fun.

    You’re probably wondering by now which one is my favorite. Well, it depends. If I’m working on business stuff or writing an article about marijuana (haha), I’ll go to Starbucks. If I’m working on feel-good, community articles, I’ll go to Good Bean in Jacksonville. If I’m feeling chatty and in the mood for fun conversation, I’ll go to the Bad Ass Coffee Shop downtown. Need quiet time to read or talk one-on-one with a friend…I’ll go to Oregon Mountain in East Medford. When meeting friends, I like Central Point Perk or Mellelo’s in North Medford. I could keep going, but I’ll stop. Most of you guys (as in, men) reading are wondering, “Does she seriously put this much thought into her choice of coffee shop?” Um, yes. And everything else. Every decision in a women’s life is made based on a highly intelligent and complicated algorithm of factors and choices. It is important for men to understand and accept this fact as quickly as possible….Oh my, that’s another blog for sure, sorry!

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    With that in mind, I haven’t even begun to discuss the whole “taste” factor…which also plays a large role into the algorithm mentioned above. Hehe. Ok, here goes (shops and drive thru’s). Starbucks is bitter, Dutch Bros is sweet and heavy, Human Bean is nutty, Good Bean is smooth, Bad Ass is strong, Black Rock and The Perk are both delicious and Mix is super smooth, but not very sweet. Those are my frequents. Not that frequent or I’d need another job just to pay for my coffee problem. Oh, and Pony Espresso has the best food. Yum.

    I gotta give props to Dutch Bros for breaking into the drive thru coffee market with incredible fortitude and playing a huge role in giving Southern Oregon a name nation-wide. If you haven’t read the story of Dutch Bros’ beginning, check that out. Dutch Bros by far has the most upbeat, friendly environment—which is quite an accomplishment considering that they’re mostly drive thru’s. Now, depending on your mood, this is either super awesome or super annoying. And I’m sorry, but regardless of my mood, whenever I hear the word “Bro-istas”, I gag a little. Yes, Dutch Bros refers to their employees as Bro-istas. Haha. Take that as you will.

    As I sit here writing this from the Good Bean, I’m afraid some of you might think all this coffee talk is rather silly. I can see my mom right now, rolling her eyes (she doesn’t drink coffee). Some of you Starbucks die-hards quit reading long ago and Dutch Bros fans are all bent out of shape. But for those of you still with me, you’re probably nodding your head and wishing you could pat me on the back! Especially many of us stay-at-home moms…coffee drive thru’s are sometimes our only connection to the real world for days! So I’ll conclude by saying here’s to variety, to options, and to the entrepreneurial spirit …especially when it comes to coffee.

    Blog by Becky Abrams

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