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Lecture - Ordering and serving coffee in an Italian café: How customers obtain ‘their’ coffee

Prof. Dr. Elwys De Stefani, University of Leuven
When Jan 24, 2018
from 08:30 AM to 10:00 AM
Where FRIAS, Albertstr. 19, seminar room
Contact Name
Contact Phone +49 (0)761 203-97362
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Topic: Ordering and serving coffee in an Italian café: How customers obtain ‘their’ coffee

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Elwys De Stefani, Universität Leuven

In this presentation I examine how customers and baristas collaboratively produce and transform what ends up being the ordered item, thereby offering a detailed analysis of interactions taking place in a public café in Italy. In this setting, persons enter the café and immediately order a coffee at the counter, which is also the place where they will later consume the requested beverage. The focus will be on the product that customers order and baristas prepare in a rapid and seemingly effortless way. What at first sight might appear as a straightforward request-compliance sequence is actually a complex interactional accomplishment. The talk addresses language resources that participants use when placing an order. These are sensitive to the spatio-temporal organization of the service encounter – i.e. to the converging movement of the customer’s and barista’s bodies in the initial phases of the interaction. They are also practices of naming and categorizing the product to be prepared. Reaching agreement about which kind of coffee the customer is requesting is a fundamental achievement of the initial phase of the encounter, since it allows baristas to proceed with the preparation of the ordered item. It is the barista’s job to materially assemble the requested product and to reorganize the spatiality of the counter in a way to create a temporary space of consumption for each customer, typically by placing a saucer in proximity to where a customer is standing. What ends up as apparently being an ordinary cup of coffee is in fact a product that customers and baristas collaboratively shape for the consumption of ‘that’ customer, on ‘that’ occasion, in ‘that’ particular space of consumption. The analysis is based on 2.5 hours of continuous recording in a public café located in Southern Italy and offers further insight into research about the categorization of material objects (De Stefani, 2014; Koschmann & Zemel, 2014), the openings of face-to-face service encounters (Sorjonen & Raevaara, 2014; Mondada & Sorjonen, 2016; Auer, 2017; Mondada, 2017), and café sociality (Laurier, 2008a, 2008b, 2013).

Organisation: Forschungsschwerpunkt "Synchronization in Embodies Interaction"