Modern cafes around the world are spending more and more time focusing on their sick stereo setups. Coffee bars like Four Barrel in San Francisco and Stumptown Coffee on Pine Street in Seattle proudly display shelves of records, and baristas take turns spinning their favorite albums.
We’re first to report on a new trend that’s sweeping the modern cafe landscape – alternatives to vinyl and traditional music systems. Here’s a list of a few we’ve spotted.
Hand-Cranked Gramophone System
Like hand-grinders and hand-pour brew, the Gramophone adds a level of manualization that modern automated record players just can’t provide. This can — and should — be seen as just another level of curation, within a cafe’s already-highly-curated landscape of tastes, sounds, and environmental modalities.
The AM/FM HiFi System
For purists, nothing beats the warm tones of an old AM/FM HiFi system. Baristas turn the dial to their favorite station and let the radio waves blend with the third wave. Bonus points if your cafe is staffed by neo-urban yeoman-and-yeowoman types who consider listening to sports on the radio (especially long, boring sports like baseball and cricket) to be a high expression of their lifestyle.
The Boombox System
A throwback, a conversation piece, a work of art. Both ironic and iconic, the Boombox System is showing up at bars below the sustainably sourced taxidermy and above the vintage cans of Folgers. The Boombox System must be implemented just so — who will curate the cassette collection? are modern-quirky cassette label releases allowed, or is the focus here on vintage? — but when done right, it can be a beautiful addition to any modern coffee bar.
The CD Player In Shoe System
CDs are making a comeback in a big way, particularly CD systems in oversized novelty shoes. The CD Player In Shoe System is just the right kind of wacky to complement the cafe that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but knows how to button itself up where it counts. Plus, it’s a rare and expensive way to listen to music, which has to count for something.
The 8 Track System
For the cafe that makes no compromises. 8-Track technology superior in quality to the cassette, but lacks the ability to rewind, so the operator needs to be sure that they want to listen to that entire Engelbert Humperdinck album.
The Reel To Reel System
For the obscure HiFi enthusiast with perhaps too much time on their hands, this system says “we’re really into it, and we’re probably not spending a lot of time dialing in our espresso.”
The Minidisc System
Obscure for the sake of being obscure. Misplaced 90s nostalgia for millennial-types.
Pre-iPod MP3 Players
For the cafe dripping with irony, we recommend choosing a pre-iPod MP3 player, like the Creative Nomad with 32MB of memory — enough for five songs!
Buchla 200E Analog Modular System
For the cafe that really wants to make a statement. Must have full-time staff member playing the Buchla at all times. Cafe should be designed with this device in mind, so as to keep it away from all liquids, steam implements, and of course, curious customers with filthy hands.