Coming together for coffee and Olympic pins
In 18th century London, you went to a coffee house to get caught up on local and world news with friends and strangers. You could also trade a variety of commodities such as coal, salt, and – eventually – stocks with the well-caffeinated crowd.
In the media village here in Pyeongchang, Ediya Coffee Shop similarly attracts a range of people, and the occasional trade.
Ediya is immediately across from the Olympic Athlete’s Village, on a very windy corner not far from the Coastal Cluster venues. And on any given day, while ordering off an efficient if not very creative menu, you can find an atmosphere reminiscent of what it must have been like centuries ago in London – if those coffee houses had Wifi in 1755, that is.
A microcosm of the Olympic community, Ediya has a bit of everything. Athletes, families, pin traders, and journalists are all here, sharing space and human experiences at a literal and metaphoric crossroads over hot java and cold muffins.
A few days ago, for example, the family of an American long track speed skater was analyzing his race from the night before at the table beside me. The seats are tightly packed in Ediya, and it was impossible not to pick up on either the young Olympian’s disappointment in his words or in his slouchy body language as he recounted what happened on that third lap.
His proud parents listened, offering encouragement. “You have two more races,” they say. “And we’ll be here whatever happens.” The slouching continued.
Two tables over the other way, a French woman festooned with a rainbow of pins on her matching green vest and hat was in an animated discussion with some young Koreans. The latter wanted to trade some Olympic pins with the former, but they weren’t sure about the price.
With some light-hearted encouragement from an Irish onlooker who clearly knew a thing or two about trading based on the look of his pin-laden jacket from Lillehammer (vintage 1994), the young Koreans gingerly committed. They traded two small Pyeongchang pins for three even-smaller pins from Nagano (vintage 1998). The French woman shook their hands, smiling. Happiness all around.
In leaving Ediya for the media bus to the International Broadcast Centre I passed the American speed skating family. “Good luck in the team relay,” I offered. The athlete smiled and actually sat up a bit. His parents beamed.
This coffee shop-cum-global meeting place hums with stories like this. The Winter Olympic Games bring people together, one latte at a time.
This article was written for The Oakville Community Foundation on behalf of Steven Bright, a volunteer with the foundation.
Follow Steven on twitter @brightsteven22 and his journey throughout the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang!