Buffalo, Then (Part Two)

This week, the Buffalo News printed a piece on coffeehouses in the Gusto section of the paper. This was very cool and I am super excited for the continued success of coffee in Buffalo, NY. While the scene is growing today, we at Gen X Reactions are more on the side of nostalgia and enjoy a trip down memory lane when it comes to coffee. I am also famous (amoung my small group of family & friends) for being somewhat of an archivist (read: hoarder), which is why I have the following gem from 1997. It was an article on the ‘new’ coffee scene in Buffalo. I’m certain that the 90s were not the only booming time for coffee in Buffalo – I mean it is a Rust Belt city and what substance keeps the working people going like coffee – but it was a great time.

In the mid-90s, we were just getting the Seattle scene wave in the city and it was glorious. You could still smoke indoors, which made the ambiance of the coffeehouses much more mysterious and murky. Baristas talked to patrons like bartenders – the relationship was not merely transactional as it can feel today. Technology had not reached everyone yet, in the form of smartphones and only a few lucky (read: wealthy) kids had cellphones at all. We would sit for hours, playing mancala and chatting with the various people that frequented these spots.

So – without further ado – here is the article that I speak of. Enjoy the nostalgia and be sure to patronize the coffeehouses of today! They are cool in their own way and in 20 years we will look back on them with the same fondness we do for these joints. After all, Grindhaus is Java Temple, Remedy House is Stimulance, Tipico is Topic, and Aroma will always be Aroma. It is all in your perception.

Cover photo of Stimulance coffeehouse was taken by Robert Kirkham.
Not the best headline, but it was the 90s.
Caffe Aroma – still a mainstay of Buffalo, NY
Back when sPot was still The Spot.
References to Hallwalls are so 90s.
Gotta love that ‘coffee ring’. So retro.
Stimulance says, “why drink depression?”
One last capture to acclimate you to the 1997 pop culture scene.

This was truly a great time in Buffalo for coffee and camaraderie. The 90s had it all – grunge, caffeine, nicotine, and that thing where you ingest substances until 4 am and then get up for school the next morning at 8 am like nothing happened – I am pretty sure it is called youth (h/t to Stefan).

2019 is shaping up to be pretty awesome, coffee-wise, too for Buffalo – so check out the Gusto article for more on that. I must say that I was very disappointed that they didn’t include Caffe Aroma in the article, if even just to give a nod with spot and sweetness_7 as one of the originals. At this point, they ARE the original for Buffalo. They also snubbed my favourite coffeehouse in Buffalo: Grindhaus. Why they were left out is confusing since they are an excellent place to get your caffeine fix. They also have awesome food choices for a quick snack or a lunchtime meal – like the VLT with a side of mujadara or a ricotta toast.

Still – lots of awesomeness is finally happening in the Buffalo coffee scene. They have embraced third wave coffee much better than the previous generation embraced fair trade (Stimulance did do fair trade and a cup program, just for the sake of clarity) and the baristas are extremely knowledgeable now by comparison.

The coffee scene in Buffalo has definitely been revived, after surviving a dry spell in the first decade of this new century. So get out there and enjoy!

Peace and happy caffeinating,


Tech Reliant

When did I become so reliant on technology? I feel like I cannot do anything without some form of tech assisting me or literally doing the thing for me. And so when access to technology is taken away from me (cell service drops, wifi isn’t available, laptop crashes, etc.), I don’t know what to do with myself. I don’t know how to function without the tech!

I wasn’t always like this. I used to resist technology. I waited as long as humanly possible to get a cell phone and to transition to an mp3 player. And while I understand that cassette players and landlines are still technically technology, I felt safe in the world of analog. If you need to get a hold of me call me at home or at work or just come find me. Does anyone remember how it was before cellphones? At the time it was normal. At the time it was just how it was. We didn’t need to be in contact with all the people all the time. We didn’t have social media. We had socializing. We didn’t have Google Drive and iTunes and Bluetooth. We had notebooks and shelves full of records and really long extension cords. But then one day I turned into this person who can’t leave the house without his iPhone. I’m that guy who shares pictures of every meal he eats with the world. I am the one who needs to be available to anyone who may possibly want to get ahold of him at any possible moment—whether he’s in the middle of something or not.

It’s easy to blame the tech manufacturers. They’ve made it impossible to not need their technology. It’s almost impossible to find cassette players anymore, not to mention actual cassettes. Everything is digital in this day and age. And if your email doesn’t come straight to your phone, then what the hell are you doing with your life? How are you even functioning in this world? But the truth is we’ve all allowed the tech to control our lives—despite every Terminator movie and at least one Joss Whedon television show and most Doctor Who storylines and the entirety of Black Mirror showing us how dangerous it is to so.


It’s true. And in some industries, technology is a moneymaker. Take the education field, for instance: Most universities have moved to a distance-learning model. These schools are able to connect with students from across the globe in a way they never were before. Sounds great, right? The issue with this is that these colleges see how much money they make from enrolling students who don’t actually have to sit in a classroom and who don’t have to live in their dorms and they start to insist that all the departments have more and more online classes. They can accept more and more students and collect more and more tuition money, without having to build more academic buildings. And at this point, there is no going back.

How would humans handle it if all the cellular and satellite services stopped working one day? Would we find a way to do our everyday activities without our technology? Would we just move on with our lives? Or would we RIOT and DESTROY EVERYTHING because we weren’t able to post a status update?