Coffee Shop Etiquette…

If you’re reading this post, chances are you could be reading it from the cozy confines of a coffee shop. In today’s society, “the shop” has become the go-to place for socially “hanging out” (as the kids say), ranging from the Starbucks “paint-by-numbers” style atmosphere to the incredibly obscure (and therefore hip) Mom-and-Pop coffee shop on the south side of town.

Let’s face it: our culture is caffeinated and loving it. As such, it would be no surprise to walk into any coffee shop and find that 2/3’s of its patrons are surfing the web on either a computer or a mobile device of some kind. The ubiquity of free wi-fi has changed our very social structures in that we can hightail it over to any shop (and a lot of restaurants nowadays, including McDonald’s?) and enjoy the benefits of high speed internet access in order to get our work done. Many business owners and entrepreneurs in fact make the shop their place of work, as it can cut back on the cost of an office and other utility fees one might incur.

I for one love spending a good portion of my day with my laptop and/or iPhone, perusing the day’s most interesting bits of news and blog posts, all while sipping down on a freshly brewed Americano and indulging in a round of people watching (not creeping; there’s a difference, albeit however small).

With all of these perks though, come a few stipulations. Unfortunately, many people in our society are not aware that there is an unspoken coffee shop etiquette, and are therefore in danger of either taking advantage of they’re lovely shop owners, or ruining the experience for other patrons. So, if you’re going to indulge in free wi-fi and (oftentimes) over-priced delicious beverages, follow a few simple rules:

  1. Buy something. – Don’t be “that guy” who comes in, plops down for a good two hours, and never even so much as approaches the counter. You’re surfing the internet, where the near full of human knowledge is available at your fingertips, ON SOMEONE ELSE’S DIME! At least buy a scone or something, man. These things cost money for the owner, and if you want to keep indulging yourself, you better do your part to give the shop its best shot at staying afloat. Don’t mooch. Nobody will like you.
  2. How long you stay determines how much you buy. So you’ve purchased that triple non-fat mocha, but that was like, two hours ago. Are you obligated to purchase something else in accordance with how long you’ve been there? No. But should you? Yes! Take it as it’s worth, but my rule of thumb is that for every hour and a half I am spending at a shop, I buy at least one item. It doesn’t always have to be another coffee, or even something expensive. It might be a cookie or a biscotti (if I’m feeling ridiculous). By purchasing in accordance with your time spent, you’re showing the owners that you appreciate the services they offer. Besides, it’s not like spending an extra dollar or two is going to kill your pocketbooks. And if it is, then I question your need to be chillin’ at a coffee shop so much anyway.
  3. If the phone rings, you leave. Let’s be honest, coffee shops are not the “new library”, but they’re also a place of peace and relaxation for almost all who enter them. Don’t screw that up for everyone because you think you’re too important to take your call outside. Nobody else in the world cares about how late Bob’s TPS reports are, or how crazy last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy was. If it’s going to last longer than a minute, take it outside.
  4. Wear headphones. You’d be surprised that this would even be something necessary to mention, but I’ve overheard my fair share of Billboard’s Top 40 when I’d really rather not. If you’re going to blast Coldplay’s new godawful album, at least have the decency to corrupt your own eardrums and not everyone else’s around you.
There are many other rules I could give, but I already look enough like a grumpy old man, so I’ll just leave it at these as I view them to be the more pressing ones. If you think there’s another crucial rule to be mentioned, leave it in the comments.
Also, what’s the worst display of etiquette, or lack thereof, you’ve seen in a coffee shop before?

2 thoughts on “Coffee Shop Etiquette…

  1. Yes please! Apart from the Coldplay slam, I’m glad as a coffee shop veteran you’ve finally spoken up about the stuff that drives me crazy. We’re the passive-agressive blogger espresso sipping crowd, and we’ve had enough.

  2. Pingback: Coffee Shop Etiquette Part 2… « The Screaming Room

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