Throughout history, coffeehouses have been the birthplaces of everything from revolutions to master works of literature. But these days, they’re mainly the setting for marathon Craigslist surfing sessions. Recent developments in San Francisco indicate this might be changing.

When a former employee of San Francisco’s enormously popular Ritual coffeehouse opened up the competing Four Barrel down the street, he pointedly, gasp, didn’t install wi-fi. (Four Barrel also plays its music on an old vinyl record player.)

The bedhead hair, scarf-wearing, fixed-gear bicycle crowd gave their stamp of approval. Says former Ritual, now Four Barrel fan “Jebediah”: “I’m an artist. I cannot feel inspired in a setting where there’s so much ‘clicking’.”

A few months later, the electrical outlets mysteriously disappeared from Ritual, hidden and/or covered from view. (Free wi-fi is still available, but if your battery goes out, you’re out of luck.) A recent visit to Ritual showed an endangered race of underemployed, white, knowledge workers flickering weakly in the dimming light of cultural extinction.

See more articles