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Co-Op Cafe Expands As Counter-Culture Hub In Downtown Jacksonville

on Wednesday, 09 August 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

WJCT

By RYAN BENK

After just over a year in business, downtown Jacksonville’s only worker-owned coffee shop is expanding for the second time.

 

The Coniferous Cafe co-op wants to position itself as a safe haven for the free exchange of ideas.

 

 

University of North Florida students know Angel Kalafatis as Professor Sex. She’s a graduate student and a mentor at the university’s LGBT resource center.

 

A couple Sundays every month, Kalafatis takes her sex-ed lessons to Coniferous Cafe on the corner of Monroe and Laura streets, where she feels less constrained than she does on campus.

 

Kalafatis was a major force behind UNF’s Sex Week, meant as half education and half celebration of sexual positivity and diversity. It generated controversy this year when campus conservatives and some parents found panels like “Polyamory vs. Cheating” too raunchy to be officially sanctioned by the university.

 

She said no one challenges her agenda when she delivers her bi-weekly workshops at Coniferous Cafe.

 

“That by itself, that flexibility to be that organic and that community-created — I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said.

 

Her class isn’t the only event filling seats. Regular poetry nights, author showcases and yoga ensure downtown’s only late-night coffee shop is often filled to the brim.

 

The cafe, which began late last year as an "info shop" selling radical books and self-published pamphlets called zines, expanded early this year to start offering coffee, tea and light snacks.

 

Coniferous doesn’t have one single owner — workers earn their share after enough time behind the counter. But most days you’ll find community organizer Siddie Friar manning the register.

 

“We’d like to be a reliable alternative to the status quo of coffee shops and really bring back that 90s grunge feel of the community coffee house,” she said. ...

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