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Coffee Shop Mocking Gentrification Is Not Appreciated

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On November 22, a sandwich board posted outside of Ink Coffee in Denver,Colorado, read “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014.. It continued on the back, reading “Nothing says gentrification like being able to order a cortado.” Within hours, what was intended to be a joke about the changing city resulted in outrage from not only nearby residents of the city, but also on social media, where images of the slogan spread rapidly. The shop was immediately boycotted by most customers.

 

Gentrification, defined by Merriam Webster, is the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents. This is exactly what is happening in parts of Denver that are home to once predominantly black and Latino families. One example is the median cost of a single-family home, which has doubled over the past five years to $450,000, putting owning a home out of the reach of half of the city’s residents, according to The Denver Channel.

 

A shop like Ink Coffee is a hallmark in a city undergoing gentrification, as only the more affluent people in the neighborhood can afford to drink fancy coffee. With gentrification a harsh reality for many Denver residents, the sign was seen as insensitive and insulting.

 

“It was like someone punched me in the heart,” said Alizah Wright, a medical biller who grew up a few block from the Ink coffee shop. Due to gentrification, she can no longer afford to live in the area, according to the New York Times.  

 

“I’m glad that people noticed the sign. If something like that were to happen around here, I would hope that people would fight against it. It’s not funny to make a joke about a real problem that people have to deal with,” said Heeju Lim, Senior.

 

The owner of the shop apologized on Twitter saying “Hmmm. We clearly drank too much of our own product and lost sight of what makes the community great.”

 

A few minutes later, the company offered another more “sincere apology”, saying “Our (bad) joke was never meant to offend our vibrant and diverse community. We should know better. We hope you will forgive us.”

 

The sign was removed, and the shop temporarily closed, due to the handful of protesters gathered outside of the shop. The store was vandalized on Thursday with spray paint, and  some protesters went as far to say that the shop should be closed forever. So far, even though it was scheduled to reopen on Monday has not yet re-opened.

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Coffee Shop Mocking Gentrification Is Not Appreciated