Ethnography Study of Coffee House

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From Mc World and cow boy capitalism to cultural ecumene and glocalisation, theorists are continually inventing polychromatic phrases to explain their differing points of view on cultural shifts caused by globalisation. “Globalization has been associated with a range of cultural consequences. These can be analysed in terms of three major theses, namely, homogenization, polarization, and hybridization,” (Holton 2000). This essay seeks to lend credence to the hybridization thesis, by observing a coffee house located in the developing country of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T). Focusing on the aesthetics of the café and the purchase behaviour of its customers, this essay intends to evaluate the attempt of this organisation to create a coffee culture in T&T. This evaluation will then inform the argument of hybridization by demonstrating how cultures exchange elements with each other thereby creating new, hybrid identities.

An ethnography study was conducted at Rituals Coffee House (Rituals) located in the city of San Fernando in T&T. The study was conducted between 12:00-1:30pm. Interviews were conducted on five customers to gauge how often they drank coffee and whether they believed that T&T owns a coffee culture or is in the process of creating one. The results of this are provided later in the essay.

Rituals coffee house is a high end café with franchises in nine Caribbean islands. The outlet chosen for the study is a small, quaint café located on a corner and enclosed by glass automatic doors to the front and large glass windows to the side. While walking in, the atmosphere noticeably transformed the congestion and hectic life of the city to a pleasant, relaxing overtone filled with the scent of freshly brewed coffee and the soft sounds of steel pan in the back ground. The café was explicitly designed to imitate international coffee chains such as Starbucks. The coffee bar and cash counter was located straight ahead from the door. Round wooden chairs and circular tables were placed to the right and pastel coloured couches to the left. There was also one long table spanning the width of the glass window with chairs for individual patrons. The café offered wireless internet presumably to attract students and business workers.

The décor combined North American modernity with Caribbean details. Walls which were plastered red bore strips of gold wall paper and paintings depicting different types of coffee. Artificial plants were placed strategically on the floor space and a multitude of low hanging lights cast only a glimmer on the tables beneath them. The coffee bar offered a plethora of coffee drinks and pastries. Their drinks ranged from coffee to tea drinks. The regionally influenced flavours included banana, mango and coconut. The pastries offered were donuts, cakes, muffins and paninis.

This Rituals branch was not frequented by many people during the study. On entering there were five people sitting. During the observation six more people entered to patronize making it eleven customers observed in total. Seven were afro-Trinidadian (African descent), three were indo-Trinidadian (Indian descent) and one was mixed (both African and Indian). Five observed seemed to be between the ages of 20 – 30. Three were dressed casually, that is jeans and shorts and carried book bags. One can make the assumption that they were students. Four seemed middle aged that is between 35-50 years. They all wore working outfits and it was assumed that they came from nearby offices. The remaining two looked over the age of 50 and were also dressed casually. Seven of the eleven were female. Out of the eleven customers, only two did not purchase any type of beverage but something to eat. From my own personal observation, ice blended coffee drinks called Chillers was clearly the most popular drink.

There were four employees present. They comprised three coffee bar workers and one supervisor. The workers seemed...
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