The intimacy of Small World

By Adilene Sandoval 

Mattawa, WA

The story begins with two people living in different parts of the world, who shared a desire to create a small place that brought their community together. Jessica Durrie grew up in Rome, Sao Paulo, and Melbourne. Brant Cossaboom spent his youth in Spain and Korea. After meeting while working at an espresso shop in Ann Arbor, Mich., the two strangers fell in love and moved to Princeton. There, they opened their very own cafe near campus, which they named Small World.

People often say “it’s a small world” when describing an unexpected encounter, or when they find something that connects them to other people. Small World Coffee has both. Inside the cafe on Witherspoon Street, conversations blend in with the calm soothing music, while orders are taken. On one wall, the phrase “Small World Around The World” is encircled by photos from people wearing cafe T-shirts in various exotic destinations. When a customer walked in on a Monday afternoon, general manager Vincent Jule greeted her by saying, “Hey, it’s you again.” 

The cafe is well known for its philosophy, which spreads in a simple, genuine form—through its own customers—attracting people from all over the world. “Making people feel good, that’s advertising for us,’’ Jule said, in reference to the shop’s advertising tactics. “It’s a welcoming environment for everyone.” People enter to pause their busy lives and enjoy one of life’s simple things—coffee. 

The look of the cafe has changed since it was founded in 1993, but Jule said Small World’s philosophy has stayed the same: First, provide people with a cup of coffee. Then, influence their lives. He encourages his employees to be genuine with customers, project positive vibes, and remember the regulars’ names—and their orders. According Alexis Lucena, who has worked at Small World for the past four years, the job is all about starting peoples’ days off right. “We have more in common than we think,” Lucena said.

“It makes me the happiest when people who have moved away come back,” Jule said. He explained that people are drawn back not only by coffee, but also because Small World remembers them, and people like being remembered. Today, Small World stands as a reminder that it is indeed a small world after all. 

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