Coffeeshops and diners have a peculiar place in the American mind. When deciding to go out somewhere to do some work or be productive, where do we go? Yes, the library is one place that people go to do work, but another place comes to mind for many: coffeeshops.
The same can be said about getting something to eat after a long day or night out. Diners are especially charming in the minds of many people. Denny’s is a popular chain restaurant that acts more like a typical local Diner, being open all day, every day, becoming known to many as a place to go to after a long night out with friends.
History has shown us that people coming together to sit down over a drink or a cup of coffee and share ideas is something that seems to come naturally, like an agreed upon armistice to share and possibly bond over words, ideas and philosophies.
In today’s day and age, the role of coffeehouses has expanded to diners, as they have a similar function as coffeehouses of old; this is because when one hears of a coffeehouse, one generally thinks of a place that serves higher-end like coffee. The same can be said of café’s and pubs, with pubs being the older form of the coffeehouse. No matter the name though, the sort of truce, or armistice, is reflected the same in all these incarnations.
This subtle and unspoken truce can be seen in many forms of entertainment, specifically over film and television, suggesting that sitting down in a diner or coffeehouse, over a cup of coffee, without a worry in the world.
Examples in film and Television
Heat’s coffeehouse scene is one of the most pivotal in the entire movie. The two main characters, one a criminal, the other a cop, meet, over coffee, and discuss their lives and what happened to get to where they are now.
It’s one of the most iconic scenes in the movie, with some declaring it one of the most iconic scenes in cinema, and it all boils down to two men discussing life and personal philosophies over a cup of coffee.
Daredevil Season 2 (2016)
Frank Castle and Karen page sit in a diner, discussing their life and how they got to that point. They reflect on love and those closest to them while they bond over the shared trauma they have just experienced.
This scene is interesting in that it showcases another example of a diner or coffeehouse that was turned into something entirely different. Although it was stated that coffeehouses and the like are places of an unspoken truce, when they are no longer functioning as such, then that truce, that unnamed peace, is broken.
The truce is a fragile thing, one that only survives if the coffeehouse, or in some instances, the diner, is only functioning as it is intended. In this scene, shortly after the two characters are done conversing, it is revealed that Frank had used Karen as a lure, making the diner into a trap, turning it into something other than the intended space.
Historical Aspect of Coffeehouses
King Charles II of England banned coffeehouses in 1675, and he didn’t stop there. He forbade the selling of coffee, tea, and chocolate from any shop or house. He did so in the belief that coffeehouses were meeting grounds of people plotting to overthrow him, as well as disrupting the peace amongst the population.
There was some truth to this: coffeehouse, in their ever-growing popularity, became places where people gathered to share opinions and theories and hand out pamphlets. The public would come together and discuss life and philosophy, becoming famous meeting grounds of intellectuals and professionals.
It is interesting to note that coffeehouses are also suggested to be where the enlightenment began, an age where scientific discovery and artistic creativity had flourished. Coffeehouses, and pubs by extension were the places where intellectuals of the time can be found.
The Inklings, a literary discussion group that was associated with Oxford University, consisted of renowned literary scholars, including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S Lewis, had routinely met at a local pub, discussing literary works and critiquing the members’ unfinished submissions.