The Third Place


Have you ever heard of the “third place” concept? It’s all about the spaces we visit outside of work and home that facilitate community, conversation, and relaxation. These places are commonly referred to as “third places” and they are crucial […]

Have you ever heard of the “third place” concept? It’s all about the spaces we visit outside of work and home that facilitate community, conversation, and relaxation. These places are commonly referred to as “third places” and they are crucial for our well-being!

The concept was first introduced by sociologist Ray Oldenburg in his book “The Great Good Place” in 1989, and it refers to a place where people can come together and build relationships outside of their immediate social and familial circles. Examples of third places include coffee shops, parks, community centers, and even online forums. Of course, our main focus on CoffeeGeek is the coffee house as the third place. 

The Importance of that Third Place

Why are third places important in our lives? Well, first of all, they provide a sense of belonging and community. Humans are social creatures, and we thrive when we have connections to others. Third places allow us to meet new people, build friendships, and become a part of something larger than ourselves.

Secondly, third places offer a break from the monotony of daily life. Work and home can be stressful and overwhelming, but when we have a designated “third place” to go to, we can unwind and relax. This helps us recharge and reduces stress levels.

A third point: hanging out at third places can be pretty great for your creative juices and work output. It’s cool to mix things up and find some inspiration and new perspectives. Fun fact: some genius business ideas and concepts started out at third place cafes! Let me give you just two examples:

How about the World Wide Web? In 1989, British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the concept, while working at CERN, the European physics research center. But guess where he wrote up his proposal for the web and hypertext language? Yup, while sitting in a Geneva cafe!

Or how about the stethoscope? In 1816, René Laennec was fascinated when he saw children playing with a long stick and listening to sounds through it. Enjoying a coffee at a cafe near his hospital, he rolled up the paper he was reading, and started listening through it, realising how it amplified and concentrated the sounds. He drew up some sketches, and the stethoscope was born from that.

Thinking of just these two examples, maybe it’s time to ditch the cubicle and hit up your local third place. Who knows what genius could come from it!

Re Energizing the Third Place

The global pandemic really hurt our ability to enjoy and gain energy and comfort from the third place. For almost a year, access to these establishments was heavily restricted for many, and even when they began to reopen, our old personal sharing experience remained limited and constrained for some time. It’s only in the last year or so many of us have been able to fully reconnect with that third place.

Many cafes suffered during the pandemic through lack of business. They need us, recognizing the importance of the third place, to get back to how they were before COVID struck. We can do our part by supporting local cafes more often – both the new ones that have opened since the pandemic, and the older ones that soldiered through the tough times – by dropping by as often as you can, buying their locally roasted coffees, and enjoying a variety of drinks from their menu.

So, what if you don’t already have a third place? There’s no better moment than now to go out and embark on an adventure to search for the perfect cafe that resonates with you. The diverse coffee shops and cafes out there are eagerly waiting for you to come and explore. Finding a perfect cafe is really what I said a few sentences ago: an adventure! You can take your time over a few months as you visit many of the cafes in your home area, or near your work.

Try to pinpoint the features and aesthetics that you love about certain cafes and, perhaps, the ones you’d prefer to avoid. You’ll be amazed by how inspired and creative some cafes can make you feel. 

And taste everything! While having quality third wave coffee to enjoy in your third place isn’t an absolute requirement, especially if the cafe ticks off other check boxes on your “like” list, it definitely doesn’t hurt if the coffee tastes even better than what you make at home!

If you like to interact and chat with people, look for cafes that encourage conversation and community and make an effort to engage with others when you’re there. If you prefer solitary serenity, seek out cafes that have quiet corners away from the hubbub and bustle of daily life.

No matter what, take your time, and enjoy the process of finding your perfect cafe. After all, it will take the role of your third place, after work and home. The place where you can connect. The place you can relax. The place where you can feel the creative juices flowing. The place where you can be part of a community.

Zuzanna travels the world because of her job, and makes it a point to find the best cafes, best coffee, best espresso in every city, town, or village she visits.


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