It seems to me that a lot of people have a bias on which coffee shops they prefer and sometimes even which barista is making their drink. I'm just wondering what are other communities doing to help out other shops in the area? I as well have my preferred coffee shops, but I also enjoy the experience of trying new shops, coffee(s), and even the barista. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad, but isn't that just part of the game?
Maybe I'm missing out on something, but I recently moved to a city and it seems like there is a giant feud between a lot of the local shops. To me it's kind of pathetic that we can't all get along.. I mean all share a common love ya know? Can anyone give me some sort of advice here???
Most shops do not have a love of coffee, but want to create a place for hipsters to hang out, people watch, and drink bad coffee. The communities that have the most shops trending toward something where the coffee comes first tend to be the ones where the shops all have a nice friendly rivalry and often grow together as a coffee community.
Multiple owners who care need to exist first before a quality coffee community can be created. In most cities it's not that there are feuds, but that quality coffee is still a niche because most do not share a common love. Owners who care about improving, who care about the coffee they serve, care about you. Support those shops whose ownership cares about continuously improving their coffee and espresso, because to those owners who don't care, it's just another business.
Seeing the size of city you're in (I'm supposing either Dayton or Columbus, judging by your profile), I can sympathize. Here in Sacramento, we have a population of about 500,000 (city proper), and a handful of shops doin it right (Temple, Chocolate Fish, Old Soul, Naked). I can tell you that Sac is in the same boat that you're describing, in that all of the shops don't band together and do kickass events. This mostly stems from the fact that every shop so far, besides Chocolate Fish, had their owners originate from Naked. Normally, this shouldn't be an issue, but leaving on bad terms in a small city tends to burn bridges, and that's clearly the case. I'm not going to say that this is the case in your town, but it sure is here, and it's a huge bummer.
I thought the same thing about my town Lincoln, Ne. That's why I started the Nebraska Coffee Association. At this point it's mostly just a website (nebraskacoffee.org). But we have done small events like cuppings, latte art throwdowns etc. I make an effort to visit different coffee shops around nebraska and get to know the baristas. In February I did an "Espresso Marathon" where I visited many coffee shops in Omaha, Ne to promote a Barista Jam. It was great and I got a lot of interest from the places I visited. One of the roasters I met wants to do an event with me in the fall! It's slow work but there are some baristas out there that want coffee to be more than a part-time job. These are the baristas that are more willing to be involved in a bigger coffee community.
There are definitely big differences in the ways that different communities approach competition and cooperation. Communities grow organically, from failed organizations, friendships, and long-standing rivalries. It can be disappointing sometimes, and those that are in cooperative communities should appreciate what they have.
To start out, try finding a small core group of baristas from a couple of different shops and organize a cool fun event - maybe a charity fundraiser? Hit the streets well in advance, and visit the other shops... extending a personal invitation to all of the baristas and coffee enthusiasts in your area. Follow up with texts to interested parties the day of the event, so that nobody forgets. You will probably not get a huge turnout, but you will get a few AND you will get the word out that there is the possibility of a larger community and that people are genuinely welcome.
I would caution you to be sure that all involved are genuinely interested in positive community development. Don't send anyone out there that talks trash about their competition, has a chip on their shoulder, or you don't feel will really and wholeheartedly extend warm invitations to all. Negativity will work against what you are trying to achieve.
Another idea that is growing in popularity is a "disloyalty card" - a card with 10 different shops on it... Atlanta is on version 2 of theirs and it has been well received.
Just a couple of thoughts. Good luck.