The next time you’re enjoying a cup of java at your favorite local coffee purveyor, pay attention to the music emanating from the house sound system. Those soothing yet engaging sounds you’re hearing might be classified as any number of musical genres, and they can come from just about any era. And yet, they all share a certain essence, don’t they?
They’re smooth and melodious enough to sit in the background, with just enough musical tension to make them engaging. That perfect balance between softness and edge makes them the ideal soundscape for a place like a coffeehouse.
Think about it: we all go to our local coffeehouses for different reasons. Sometimes we treat them as an office. Other times, we go there to socialize. Some mornings we’re in and out, just stopping by for our morning fix, and other days we spend hours studying or reading our favorite new book.
As the coffeehouse serves so many purposes simultaneously, it needs music that supports the roles it plays. It needs “coffee shop music.”
Coffee House Music: A Genre Defined
While individual examples of coffee shop music might be classified as jazz or soft rock, and others could be called electronic music or bossa nova, when taken as a whole, coffee shop music can be viewed as an eclectic genre of its own.
It’s a different type of genre than we’re used to. Instead of being defined by stylistic touchstones such as instrumentation or lyrical content, coffee house music can be characterized by an overall vibe. A single artist may even have some songs that fit this genre, and others that do not. Regardless of where it comes from, you know coffee shop music when you hear it.
We’re not the only ones who have come to think of coffee shop music as a distinct entity, by the way. There are satellite radio stations, musical compilations, and even bands devoted to the genre of coffee music.
Selected Musical Works for Quaffing Coffee
Singer-songwriters are popular choices for coffeehouse-friendly music. Artists such as Ray LaMontagne, Norah Jones, Iron and Wine, and Landon Pigg are great examples.
Coffee house music can also come from the alternative rock world. Bands such as Coldplay, R.E.M. and Death Cab for Cutie make an excellent complement to an iced Americano and a stimulating conversation.
Electronic music is another popular choice for coffeehouses. Selected works from artists like Royksopp, Owl City, and Frou Frou are ideal for studying over a cappuccino.
If you’re more into the classics, check out the works of Nick Drake, Loudon Wainwright III, Tim Buckley, Jackson Browne, and Leonard Cohen.
Feeling jazzy? Put Miles Davis’ seminal album Kind of Blue on the turntable. Follow it up with some of Charlie Parker’s iconic Verve Records output. After that, try some Dave Brubeck or Wynton Marsalis.
Perhaps you’d care for some Latin flavor with your Cortado? Stream selected works from João Gilberto, Chico Buarque, or Gal Costa.
Enjoy the Sound of Coffee With Coffee Shop Music
You’ve always loved the aroma, flavor, and boost that coffee gives you, but now you can become a connoisseur of the sound of coffee as well, giving you one more reason to stop by your local coffee shop or hit your favorite record store for rare grooves. Enjoy that selection of coffee house music!