Make Shift Coffee House

What It's Like In-Person

We've hosted
In-Person Make Shift Coffee Houses so far..

The purpose of every Make Shift Coffee House is to help people understand each other across differences.

Each In-Person Make Shift Coffee House has the Following Characteristics

The purpose is to help people understand each other's political views, and hang out.
Free admission and a welcoming environment for all ages and all types of people.
Diverse political perspectives and beliefs among participants (special outreach required to achieve this).
Neutral, humble, creative, competent facilitation.
Free food, coffee, and other beverages.
Live music.
Listed on the Make Shift Coffee House website calendar.

Videos From Make Shift Coffee Houses

Social Media Vs. Face-To-Face Conversations

3 Years of Make Shift Coffee House Hope

behind the scenes look at hosting an event

Guidelines For Each Event

Speak from your experience
Listen to understand
All views encouraged
No criticism
Neutral facilitation
Share with others

In-Person Format

Make Shift Coffee Houses are held in libraries, school cafeterias, church basements, VFW halls, grange halls, on college campuses, and other pop up places where people feel welcome.


No RSVP, registration, or tickets required. Just show up.

In general, Make Shift Coffee Houses provide structure for different types of conversations in different types of settings.

Upon arrival each person is greeted at the door and invited in with a welcoming smile and a friendly gesture towards the coffee and food.

Live music is playing and people are chatting in pairs and small groups. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, yet charged with a bit of excitement and even nervousness for what is to come.
At the start, Craig welcomes everyone and encourages people to get refreshments and strike up conversations with strangers and sit with people they don’t know.

After about 10 minutes of music and mingling, Craig calls the room’s attention and asks everyone to find a seat. The heart of the event takes place during the next 90 minutes where the whole group engages in a single, facilitated discussion. Craig begins by explaining the purpose of a Make Shift Coffee House and the discussion guidelines. Craig then asks for a volunteer to kick-off the discussion by sharing their answer to the central question.


From that point on, Craig calls on people and manages the microphones (if microphones are needed) and facilitates a lively, fun, and educational discussion.


During this discussion Craig looks for opportunities to facilitate a fishbowl conversation or two; that is, a small group conversation in front of everyone else. He also looks for opportunities to read the questions on the wall and perhaps steer the conversation in the direction of one or more of those questions.


At the conclusion of the full group discussion, Craig thanks everyone and encourages continuing conversations in pairs and small groups. He also encourages the conversations to continue into the next day and weeks; and that people might want to exchange contact information.


Craig explains that an optional Debrief Session session will begin in 15-20 minutes; an opportunity to reflect on the discussion we just had and identify things that contributed to respectful conversation. He encourages people to write “key ingredients for respectful conversation” on the Debrief Wall and demonstrates how that works (this is a different wall from the Question Wall that was previously highlighted).


Directly after adjournment people hang around to chat, have food and drinks, listen to music, and write comments on the Debrief Wall. Many people linger but some leave as they desire.


About 15-20 minutes after adjournment, Craig leads the Debrief Session for those who would like to stay. There is a gathering around the Debrief Wall and most people stand although some sit. Craig reads things that have been written on the wall and leads a discussion about “key ingredients for respectful conversation.” The Debrief Session lasts 20 minutes or so.

In-Person HostIng and FacilitatIng

When restrictions are lifted, we are looking for volunteer hosts and experienced facilitators for In-Person Make Shift Coffee Houses .
Click here to learn all about it.