Basic Coffee Shop Protocol

So, here’s one for you. My husband told me once about a guy that goes into the Starbucks by campus and brings two computer monitors with him so he can play World of Warcraft. I’m not even kidding. People do this. Don’t be one of these people.

It’s unfortunate that we now seem to think of a public space like a coffee shop as an extension of our home. I’ll admit, I don’t see much point in throwing on much more than a pair of yoga pants and a sweatshirt if I’m going to the local Coffee Bean to work for a few hours. That being said, there’s definitely some basic coffee shop protocol that should be followed in order to be a customer with a basic sense of decency.

Watch Where You Sit

If the space has one of those long tables with outlets available for my computer, that’s where I sit. I don’t need to take up an entire table for myself; I don’t mind sitting next to students or other professionals that are working on their laptops. If a communal work station isn’t available, choose the smallest table you can find for your work. Tables with four chairs or more should be reserved for larger parties. 

Keep an Eye on the Crowd

There’s a reason Panera limits WiFi to 30 minutes during peak lunch hour. If you notice that the space is getting crowded and new customers can’t find a place to sit (while you’ve been there for an hour or more already), that’s a sign that it’s probably time to leave. It’s not your office space, no matter how much time or money you spend there.

Don’t Hog the Bandwidth

You’re sharing the internet with everyone else in the space, which means that streaming movies or music is a big no-no, as is downloading or uploading large files. By doing so, you’re slowing down the internet for everyone else. If possible, try to avoid Skype or FaceTime calls on their internet as well.

Please, For the Love of God, Order a Drink

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen someone bring a sandwich and bottle of water into Starbucks and don’t buy anything. And the Starbucks employees are often too kind (or perhaps it’s their policy to ignore) to say anything. It’s really not fair to those who are spending money to use the space and the internet, however. Buying a tall tea and continuously asking for hot water refills doesn’t count either. 

Clean Up Your Space

Baristas aren’t paid to be busboys. Clean up your space. And if you bring your children with you? Don’t leave a disaster zone behind you. Take a few moments to pick up after them. It’s just common courtesy. 

Don’t Expect Peace and Quiet

You’re in a public place, so don’t expect everyone to meet your standards. If you schedule a meeting in a coffee shop, prepare for the likelihood that you won’t be able to find a table or that you may have chatty neighbors. 

Go Outside to Take Calls

Even if the other patrons aren’t silent doesn’t give you a free pass to listen to music loudly or take phone calls while inside. Others will thank you for it. 


    1. Great tips! I’ve seen people watch Netflix in Starbucks, like an entire movie on Netflix in Starbucks. So inconsiderate!

      1. Isn’t it terrible? The wifi at coffee shops is a privilege, not a right, and that’s definitely abusing that privilege. Makes me so frustrated!

    1. The phone calls thing drives me through the damn wall! If you are at a coffee shop, do not sit there and gab with so-and-so about who kissed who last night and then giggle and squeal about it. I don’t care! Gosh! Clearly, this makes me ragey. FAB post–sharing now :)

    1. Also: PUT YOUR HEADPHONES ON PLEASE AND THANK YOU. And I’ve seen people watch porn in coffee shops. NOT OK. I WILL report you to the managers (at the very least) for that.

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