Bringing People Together Over Beverages – Lessons Learned in Spain

By John Buckner — SVP, National Account Sales


One of the patterns emerging from the recent terrorist attacks in Nice, France; Orlando, Florida and elsewhere is the loneliness and isolation of the disaffected perpetrators. Inside the vortex of venomous ideology coming through their screens, these sad cowards are radicalized until their hatred gathers an inexorable momentum that is only sated by an extreme end.

What a contrast to what I saw when traveling in Spain where all are welcome at the corner pub. Every morning patrons greet one another over espresso shots and simple pastries. The aroma of freshly ground coffee wafts over hearty conversations. My wife and I wandered into a little hole in the wall pub in the famed Basque region in the charming beachside community of San Sebastian. This is a region that brims with cultural pride and while officially part of Spain, it retains its unique Basque personality and predilections. Once political disagreements were a source of injurious conflict, but the years have mellowed the tension. An underlying sense of tolerance now governs pub relations. Any deviation from this principle and the aggressive fellow is asked to move on.

We arrived a little late in the day for me to drink espresso. By that time, the barista had become more of a bartender, and beers on tap were the elixir of the early evening. I couldn’t manage much Spanish, but I was taken by the spirit of the place. So, joining in the revelry, I decided to clink glasses with the nice lady standing next to me. She met me halfway with a compassionate clink. As our eyes made contact, my big American grin was reciprocated by her own wry smile. In that moment our differences didn’t really matter. We were one.

I thought to myself, what the world needs now is a little corner pub with an espresso machine and a beer tap beckoning us all.


Read other blog posts by John Buckner:

How to grow your coffee business

Selecting the right coffee for your concept

Build your strategy on the habit of coffee

With coffee cups, live large

Retail branded or restaurant branded? It’s a culinary choice

Drive sales by positioning your beverages