Coffee Shop Tips and Etiquette

I love working at coffee shops. Spending the day with delightful scents and chill background music, surrounded by a unique mix of professionals, students, and creatives brings me comfort. You get the human interaction everyone needs while still minding your own business. Perfection.

But when I first went to a coffee shop to work remotely, I was a little intimidated. 

"How long can I stay here?"

"Is the WiFi really free?"

"Will I look like a creep?"

If that sounds like you, have no fear. Whether you're a freelancer or remote worker, you're working on a project after hours, or you need a new place to read your favorite novel, here are a few tips and ways of etiquette to follow for a confident experience.


You should order something.

Yeah, the WiFi is free. But it's meant to be a perk for paying customers. I've been to a teahouse that only gives their WiFi password on a receipt. #Shade. If you're only going to be there for an hour or two, then one cup of Joe may suffice. If you plan to be there all day, you should be ordering every now and then throughout your stay. (I love coffee shops with full food menus because I can eat my breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner there too.)


Don't complain about the WiFi.

Once again, the WiFi is free. Which means it's not required to run at a lightning speed, or work at all. If you want total control of your Internet experience, work from home or get an office space in a commercial building. You get what you (don't) pay for. If it ever goes out completely, it doesn't hurt to mention it to an employee (they're too busy working to notice), but be nice about it. 


Take your calls outside.

People are working. There's already enough background noise coming from the sound of keyboard typing, coffee machines, people placing orders, people having business meetings, and whatever music may be playing. No one wants to hear you blab to your friend about last night's gossip or arguing with your boss. A quick and quiet "hey, I'm working. I'll call you back" is fine. But if you know you're in for a long conversation and you know you have a loud voice, go ahead and step outside. 


Order from that coffee shop's menu.

If you're at Joe's Coffee House, don't expect your latte to taste like one from Anna's Coffee House. Every coffee shop is unique, with a unique menu and baristas with their own unique way of making drinks. If you want that super specific cappuccino that only Starbucks makes, go to Starbucks. Otherwise, order from the menu listed and enjoy their version of your favorite cup.


Don't be a hogger.

Space is limited. Don't be the person sitting alone at a big table while a party of four is left standing. If you're just there to write in your journal or read a book, you really don't need to sit by one of the very sparse outlets. And if someone asks you to switch places, take a chair, or use the outlet near you, don't feel attacked. I believe in coffee shop karma. When you help out others, others will be a help to you.


Tips and Things To Know

Starbucks drink sizes, like Venti and Grande, only apply to Starbucks. I beg you, don't go to a local coffee shop asking for a Tall latte. 

It's okay to go to the restroom. No one has ever messed with my stuff. Most people, which is hard to believe, are decent humans. I always just take my bag’s removable pouch, which carries my phone and wallet, and ask the nice person next to me to watch my space. And I return the favor. (If you’re paranoid about someone stealing your stuff, go to the restroom when you first get there to get it out the way.)

It's okay to ask a barista questions about the menu. After all, it's their job to help you, especially if you're going to be leaving a generous tip.

Some places bring you your coffee, and some places make you go get it from the counter. Don't be alarmed if either happens. Just listen for your order.

Peak hours are early in the morning before people go to work, around lunch time when people are taking a break, and in the evening when side hustlers and students come in. Base your schedule around that. Traffic sucks.

If you leave temporarily, for whatever reason, your seat is fair game. When you come back, find a new seat. 

Come with fully charged electronic devices. You never know if a seat near an outlet will be available.

It's not cool to bring outside food from another place. Eat while you're there or before you get there.

And as with anything in life, BE A NICE PERSON. You never know who you will meet. :)