Machines, People, and Social Interaction in “Third-Wave” Coffeehouses


  • John Manzo University of Calgary



Coffee, space, ethnomethodology, machine-human interaction


Coffeehouses have a long history as not only spaces of and for consumption but also as social settings that facilitate and encourage public sociality even in an epoch in which such spaces for sociability are alleged to be fading away. This paper comprises a study of coffeehouses with analytic perspectives and priorities that are very different from past research on this social form. The empirical focus here is on so-called “third wave” coffeehouses, which view coffee as an artisanal product and which deploy, among other resources, high-end equipment in their beverage creation. This equipment is itself an additional empirical focus, and the ways in which traditional face-to-face sociability and, in particular, interaction between customers and employees is facilitated by those machines is considered here. The theoretical perspective used here is ethnomethodological and as such a central concern with describing lived experience at these venues is accomplished by considering photographic evidence of machines and people in situ to see how machines, people, spaces and comestibles interact in these cafes.

Author Biography

John Manzo, University of Calgary

John Manzo is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Calgary, Canada.


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