We’ve lost our Caribou Coffee, the site of so many laughs, connections and quiet conversations in a noisy space. One day we hear that Caribou is closing several Charlotte locations, but this one, our special one, would survive! Alas, it wasn’t to be. It, too, Caribou East as we called it, didn’t make the cut after all.
When I talk about “we” here, it’s because this wasn’t just any coffee shop, it was the granola variety hangout left in this corporate, Starbuck’s city. Nursing students from the nearby hospitals, aging hippies with time to kill, and those of us who work from home offices and crave the occasional sociability of others, all called it home.
A community such as this didn’t leave names and numbers. We knew each other by sight and an occasional interchange where we’d learn the basics of this new person. The little “Take One, Leave One” library is no more. The big, brown leather padded chairs by the fireplace were lusted over on cold or rainy days.
The strong small of the coffee and the incessant buzzing of the grinders let us know that there was a business to run here and, in the end, the economics won out, as they always do. Caribou East as another casualty of the investment bankers who bought Caribou, broke it into pieces and never once thought of the emotional dislocation, this unintended consequence, of their actions.
We are the members of the Great Caribou Coffee Diaspora of 2013. We are part of a dispersion of a people and culture that was formerly concentrated in one place. We will likely never see one another again as a group. Old, growingly familiar relationships will be no more. We are spread to the four winds, never to be reunited.