When I was nineteen I moved to Canberra for uni, and made the decision that I was going to be cool. 

I’d thought about being cool before this, but I was in high school, and it’s hard to change your identity to be cool when everyone already knows you aren’t. But as nobody knew me in Canberra, it would be easier to fool them.

I had to act quickly, before the real me seeped out in ways unbeknownst to me as it was often prone to do. I was intrinsically aware from living in the nineties, that the epitome of cool was skating and listening to punk. I was already an adept rollerblader, and had rigorously studied the lyrics and iambic pentameter of Beck’’s ‘Loser’, so the transition would be easy.

I bought a skateboard from Kmart, named it The Shrek Shredder (Shrek 2 had just been released along with its promotional paraphernalia), and headed to the skatepark.

Skate & specialty coffee culture

Years later, my quest for cool jettisoned (not by choice), Shrek Shredder on a Vinnie’s shelf, I still have a fondness for skate culture, and get a kick (flip) out of seeing it intercept with specialty coffee culture. It (kick) flips the notion I have that only elitist snobs get deep into specialty coffee with their beards, spreadsheets and tightly fitted flannalette shirts, and skateboarders in their oversized flannelettes, only consume energy drinks, eschewing chairs for sitting on their side-standing boards, flipping their long, lightly greased tresses from their eyes. 

The other day I was sitting in a favourite cafe of mine, watching a guy skate in the back alley, taking sips of his batch brew between kickturns and frontside caballerials. And if you have a cuppa in one of our cafes you’ll notice the muralled walls, shirts and coffee bags rendered with Sindy Sinn’s graffiti style artwork. When the two worlds intersect, I wouldn’t say it’s magical (it is, it’s just I use that word too often. It’s losing its magic.), but it’s really flipping cool.

And there’s no more perfect manifestation of the culmination of cultures than in Spod – a skateboarder, punk et al music producer, coffee brewer and critic. There is no beginning or end to his identities. He is a circle of culture. He brews an aeropress on stage in between “My Body is Ready” and “Everyone Dies”. It’s an atmospheric musical philosophy. There are seagulls involved. His coffee reviews give me no end of joy. He skates around MoMA.

The reason for their intertwining

I like to think that this seamless intertwining of coffee and skate culture is due to the tendency of subcultures to get caught up in the specifics, to seek improvements and nuances, to push boundaries and strive for greatness with creativity and enthusiasm. The mutual appreciation each subculture has of the other, the understanding of the dedication, the lifestyle that’s involved, naturally attracts us to each other. A chemical bond of aromatic molecules and ball bearings.

But it’s probably because specialty coffee is becoming more accessible, more widely consumed, and conveniently served out of cafes situated amongst a cornucopia of gutters, pavements and railings.