Remember when buying coffee meant digging out a coin or two? Ever since Starbucks convinced people that coffee was more about being empowered to make infinite choices than drinking something brown and warm, we’ve been forced to pay ridiculous amounts of money for a cup of coffee.
And it’s clear that there are high margins from this business model. Not only is there a Starbucks on every corner, every third store up and down the block is a coffee house. The choices are endless, at least if ‘choice’ means choosing who is going to charge you a lot for a cup of coffee.
Not so any more, at least not in Quebec City. I walk down 3rd Avenue regularly and drop into the Brulerie to do quick-sketches of the people and get a ‘cuppa’ as Liz Steel is fond of saying. I can expect to leave $3-4 lighter every time. But across the street is a new place, Sobab’s. I was out walking and decided to give it a try.
I only had a few minutes as I ordered a café au lait. I was asked whether I wanted a small or a large and I chose large. If you’re going to splurge on high-priced stuff, you might as well go all the way. Time to pay. Should I break a twenty? Probably have to. “That’ll be $1.50,” she said. Huh? I handed her a 2-dollar coin and dumped the change in the tip jar.
I sat down and, still in pleasant price shock, I scribbled out this little sketch of part of the counter area. The coffee was good. It was cheap, and a steady stream of people seemed to know all about it. As I enjoyed my coffee I did some quick sketches of people ordering their own inexpensive coffee.