The Unofficial Rules Of Etiquette For Working From A Coffee Shop

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When was the last time you went to a coffee shop?

You arrive at the shop and try to find a place to sit and work, only to find a packed place that’s just in absolute chaos. Yes you occasionally luck out, especially if you go early or late in the day, but coffee shops have become social hubs for hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

When you’re dealing with such a massive scale of people in a shop meant to house 40 people max, you run into a couple issues.

So I’ve taken it upon myself to write the Unofficial Rule Book on Proper Coffee Shop Etiquette to help make the coffee house experience just a little bit less chaotic.

Rule #1: You HAVE To Order a Coffee (or Something)

You’d be surprised at the amount of people that don’t order anything at a coffee shop and just sit there and work. A coffee shop is not your home, they rely on people buying their products in order to stay open and don’t have the luxury of people not buying coffee. It’s also shows your appreciation to the coffee place and shows you enjoy their coffee.

Don’t feel like coffee? Get a bite to eat or a tea if you’re not into it…

If you’re staying at a coffee shop for a prolonged period of time, make sure to order a couple drinks and possibly some food. It’s mostly to be polite, but can keep you focused while you sip away at a caffeinated beverage.

Note: I will warn to not drink more than 5 cups of coffee in a sitting, I speak from experience.

Rule #2: Don’t Forget To Bring Your Headphones

Yes I know you love your music and you enjoy putting it on full blast, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the coffee house does. It’s a fairly simple thing to do, and the rest of the coffee house will thank you.

Many people also take phone or video calls in coffee shops, so headphones allow you to have a semi-private conversation with the other person and also doesn’t disturb the other people around you with the conversation.

If you’re searching for a pair, Apple earbuds or Skullcandy earphones generally do the trick, or even Beats. For higher end ones, Shure and Sennheiser are my go-tos.

Rule #3: Keep Your Stuff Around You (Not Spread Out)

Please, please, please don’t spread your stuff over 5 different chairs with your notebook and laptop haphazardly thrown over the entire table. If you do, please kindly grab your items and exit the coffee shop in an orderly fashion.

Coffee shops are high traffic places, so finding a spot is sometimes very difficult. Having to drive around to different coffee shop to find a place to sit is just horrible, so be courteous and keep your stuff in your area.

Rule #4: Know Your Surroundings

We don’t need to hear you conduct your business in the shop. Not only does it break some privacy policies and non-disclosure agreements, it can be quite disrupting to the people around you. This is especially important if you have any meetings over the phone or a video call.

If you absolutely have to have a meeting in a public place, try to reserve it into a corner of a moderately loud shop. This then allows background noise to block what you’re saying to a certain degree while also not deafening the other people in your meeting.

Rule #5: Don’t Leave Your Space A Complete Mess

Again, the coffee shop isn’t your home.

Making a mess isn’t only troublesome for the barista’s but also for the other patrons. Coffee shops have a high turnover rate, and often barista’s don’t have time to wipe down a table after each customer. This means your mess will take up the much needed spot of a fellow hustler.

Plus it’s just gross.

Rule #6: Don’t Interrupt People Working To Strike Up A Convo

Nothing irks me more than someone trying to strike up a conversation with me when I have my headphones in to get some work done. Giving a polite smile or a short “Hi” is socially acceptable, but in today’s day and age most people don’t go to a coffee shop to socialize.

Rule #7: Make Sure You’re Close To An Outlet

This rule is both for your benefit as long with a safety concern. Long extension cords are not only annoying for you, they can trip up people navigating the tight space of a coffee shop. It also gives you a bit more mobility with the placement of your laptop or tablet.

Even if you think you’ll only be working at a cafe for a couple hours, it’s better to be safe than sorry. There’s been countless times I’m convinced I’ll only be at a cafe for an hour and end up staying there until it closes.

Rule #8: Pick A Seat & Stay In Your Seat

Don’t keep changing your mind on what chair to sit in. Pick a spot and stick to it.

This is much more of a personal benefit, but also it can be mildly distracting for other patrons. Coffee shops for the most part aren’t the biggest places, so constantly moving around you and your stuff is a distraction even to the most focused of coffee-lovers.

A comfy chair is the secret to productivity, so give your butt and your back a break and choose a comfy place that will last you the duration of your visit.

Lighting is also important. An overly bright area might give off glare and a headache while a too dark area will lead to squinting and a headache. To avoid the pain, find a spot with an overhead light that doesn’t give off too much glare

Wrapping Things Up

Coffee shops are great, but try these steps out to make your next experience more enjoyable for the people around you and for yourself.

Sick of coffee shops? Try our dark roast coffee! You can make it at home to avoid the trouble and it tastes great.

I’ve always wondered one thing: do you call it a coffee shop, a coffee house, or something else? Let me know in the comments or feel free to tweet your answer!

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