Ideas, Coffee and Innovation

In this interesting TED talk by Steven Johnson it is mentioned that the coffee house was the key for the innovation explosion in the 18th Century.

In coffee houses ideas could be discussed, shared and meet new ideas.

My personal feeling is that this has changed a bit. We have a multitude of coffee houses, and many people, including myself, love working in a cafe.

But idea exchange? Doesn’t happen so often. As was recently observed by @jasongay on Twitter:

“There’s a guy in this coffee shop sitting at a table, not on his phone, not on a laptop, just drinking coffee, like a psychopath.”

The question for me therefore is: Are there still cafes out there where idea exchange happens? Do the intellectuals, the innovators or just everybody else still meet somewhere to explore ideas, even with strangers? What is your experience?

And for my Belgium-based friends: What are places in Brussels/Antwerpen/Mechelen that can you recommend where one can still have exchanges, where ideas are discussed?

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