Some time ago i wrote about the popup coffee stall at my local station: at that time, i was exploring ideas of Community, and the relationship to space. Since then, the coffee stall has evolved, out of a van, through a tent, and into a proper trailer. It’s open seven days a week, early till late. And it still forms the heart of a transient community. But today, something was different: same coffee, but after i had paid, i was offered a biscuit.
The choice was between a Digestive, or a Custard Cream: i am unsure how this will translate for my American friends, as i don’t know if either biscuit format has made it across the Atlantic, but suffice to say, it’s a hard choice. I went down the Digestive track.
The coffee was as good as ever, and the biscuit dunked with perfection, but beyond refreshment, it gave me something else to digest: a reflection on kindness, iteration, and the transacting of social value.
Nobody gives me a biscuit: not Starbucks, not Tim Horton, and not Peet’s either. And all of them cost more than i pay at the station. Sure: they sell me an artisanal blueberry muffin, or wheat free wrap, but it’s a transaction, not a thought.
The gift of the biscuit is about the relationship, about the context, and about kindness. A single biscuit does not sustain you, so from a calorific perspective, it’s marginal, but from a relationship one, valuable. It also serves to decontextualise the coffee from something that happens on the High Street, to something that happens between friends. And it counts, because it’s an authentic action, and it’s kind.
I don’t know what prompted this new dimension, but if i were in a business context, i would see it as iteration of the business model, the prototyping of new behaviour, and a meaningful investment in the Community.
Within those Communities, small things count, especially when an action is founded in authenticity and carried by kindness.