Coffee Shop Web Workers

Recently as the team at the day job has expanded desk space has been at a premium. As my role is pretty autonomous I often work from home or my favourite local coffee shop, which in my case is Starbucks in Bath.

Free Wi-Fi

Since the introduction of the Starbucks Card it’s been possible to stretch out a coffee or two and enjoy pretty reliable free wi-fi whilst working in the comfort of screaming children, tourists, school kids enjoying excessively large cream topped drinks and other web workers crafting the next big thing. I actually find it strangely conducive to work.

Unlike some I don’t find working at home that difficult but it’s nice to actually get up in the morning and head out of the house (to leave your own screaming kids behind for some others). Normally I end up working out of Starbucks 1.5 days a week.

Free Drip

The other great thing about Starbucks is that for every hot drink you buy you are entitled to a free tall drip coffee. OK I admit it’s not the best, especially when the earn has been stewing for a few hours, but it certainly reduces the need to buy a fresh drink!

Web Workers Coffee Shop Survey

This is far from a scientific survey but I thought it would be interesting to find out more about my fellow coffee shop web workers. Here are four quick questions, feel free to chime in and leave your thoughts in the comments.

  1. Which coffee shop do you work out of the most?
  2. What’s your signature drink?
  3. If you stay for a day how many coffees/drinks/food items do you generally buy (feel obliged to buy)?
  4. What’s your top tip for working in a coffee shop?

My Answers

  1. Starbucks Bath
  2. Grande Americano with hot milk (hot milk keeps it warmer for longer)
  3. Two per session (i.e AM or PM). I’ll buy one and enjoy the free drip afterwards
  4. Work out where the power sockets are and get in early to secure your spot.


Which coffee shop do you work out of the most?
What’s your signature drink?
If you stay for a day how many coffees/drinks/food items do you generally buy (feel obliged to buy)?
What’s your top tip for working in a coffee shop?

1. Starbucks, Bath (High St.)
2. Grande Drip – Black (filter coffee) in a take away cup to keep it warmer longer.
3. Two paid for drinks + 1 refill.
4. Make an effort with the staff, get to know them, they’ll treat you like one of them ;)

1. Starbucks (I’m in London so I have about 300 million to choose from)
2. Grande triple shot hazelnut latte (although its gingerbread instead of hazelnut at the moment, red cups wooo )
3. If I do stay for the day (unusual, normally just a morning or afternoon after a meeting) its two drinks + lunch
4. Come at the same time of day/week so the staff get to know you, I used to get free ‘via’ coffee to take home. Also try to befriend other regulars so you can get them to keep an eye on your stuff while you use the bathroom

Hey Marc, great tip about the bathroom visit. How many times I have I wandered in there with cables trailing behind me!

1) I don’t do a lot of coffee shop working, but I do feel quite strongly that supporting local firms is A Good Thing where possible*. Also, I find Starbucks coffee pretty disgusting, which helps me avoid it…

2) Skimmed Latte

3) In Starbucks I don’t feel obliged to buy any more than absolute minimum. The Man can live with it, IMO… :-)

4) Take big headphones, find a power socket, check for mobile/dongle access before you buy a coffee. Nothing revolutionary..

(* Yes, I know I use Nero a fair bit. I’m a hypocrite. But if I ever sit for a day, I try to use places like Kindling, Scoffs, etc)

Coffee shop: Starbucks
Drink: Tall Black Americano
Purchases: 1 Drink, multiple munchies throughout the day.
Tip: Sit with your back to the wall or in a corner so you can view the entire room of people when bored. Grab the soft seats at the soonest opportunity, or take an iCushion with you (laptop sleeve) to sit on the hard seats for longer – great for those with a boney arse.

1) I have only recently started working more in coffee shops so I have been trying a few different ones out. Right now I like the costa in Southampton but I also like the local ones nearer to where I live.

2} Gingerbread latte

3) 2 plus munchies

4) Find a seat which allows you to look around. People watching is great :)

1) Traditional Viennese Coffeshops
Café Mentone
Café Sperl

Modern coffeeshops, most of the times have too many disctracting factors, especially Starbucks: noisy, a lot of kids, people popping in and out all the time.

2) Ususally Viennese Melange. If I have to chose Starbucks while travelling: grande latte would be my favorite.

3) Just 1 or max. 2. Viennese coffeeshops have a long tradition. In fomer times writers and poets used to literally live in these places. Most of them offer a huge variety of international newspapers and magazines and you can sit there for hours, or spend a whole day, reading and working without being distracted.

4) Find a place in the back, not next to the entrance but facing the entrance. Make friends with the staff, so they watch your stuff whilst you need to go somewhere. Only problem with the traditional coffeeshops here is the power supply, so to make friends with staff is prio #1 :)

@wolf – I love the sound of these traditional Viennese coffee shops. Do you have any links for these, they sound quite different.

@Keir You are right they sound really different. Although times have changed :)

One of my favorites:

1. Barrie & Sudbury (Canada)
2. Cafe Mocha (1 cup)
3. 2-3hr session
4. Bring earbuds

@keirwhitaker I’d like to know how long people stay for…

1. Cafe Medici (Austin, TX)
2. Grande Americano
3. 2 max
4. Backup your WiFi: I bring a wireless data card along in case the network connection gets slow.

1. Which coffee shop do you work out of the most?

One of the locals; Which isn’t part of a chain, but provides coffee from Byron Bay roasters.

2. What’s your signature drink?

Probably espresso or latte. I tend to drink the espresso of an afternoon, lattes of the morning / lunch.

3. If you stay for a day how many coffees/drinks/food items do you generally buy (feel obliged to buy)?

I generally go for lunch, morning tea or afternoon tea; So generally 1 food item, maybe 2; Probably 2 drinks, espresso+latte or two espressos.

4. What’s your top tip for working in a coffee shop?

Just work out of a notebook, even as a programmer, I carrier a bunch of moleskins which I can sketch notes and ideas for projects down in. I have a few times worked from my macbook pro (15″) while at a coffee shop, but it tends to get a little awkward.

1. I’d local but Starbucks provides a good drink and a good work environment.
2. Soy Latte
3. Two coffee drinks. I break for lunch elsewhere
4. STARBUCKS GOLD CARD. Pay for all your drinks and food on a Starbucks card and you get flavor shots, soy, and refills for FREE (after 30 drinks). You also get every 15th drink free. Best deal in town. One of the reasons I like Starbucks so much.

PS. WIFI is free at all Starbucks now.

1. Starbucks
2. Medium cappuccino in a proper mug
3. 2 coffees and a bottle of water normally
4. Be very aware of the security risks and definitely don’t log into sensitive websites unless you have really good security on your machine.

I work from Starbucks every couple of weeks while my flat is being cleaned and it’s a nice break from working at home. I try to grab the big comfy chairs but people often beat me to it. Don’t they know it’s my office! ;)

1. Gold Point Cafe (La Jolla, CA)
2. Double Shot of Espresso
3. 1 drink every 2 hours or so..
4. make sure you’re battery is full when you leave in the AM.. tip the workers, be a nice person…

1. Starbucks
2. Decaf tall caramel frapaccino in the summer or a chai tea latte in winter
3. Just one drink and something to nibble on like a muffin
4. Choose the most comfy chair, set up shop and try not to people watch while you work

1. cafe liberdade
2. sagres
3. i refuse to answer this question
4. when you do something difficult and need to concentrate avoid meeting senior luis with his power killer fired

1. It’s A Grind, Elk Grove California USA

2. TAZO Peppermint Tea (the large tea is the same cost as the medium)

3. Usually buy tea twice and a wee lemon scone around 1:00 P.M. if I stay the whole day. But I try to limit my stay to three hours at most. Plus I usually tip a bit each time I buy something. Follow your mother’s advice: say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ The staff will appreciate it.

4. a) If it is going to be a long haul, I try to find a spot next to an outlet–my favorite place has several power strips available for use. b)Try to arrive at the same time each day, it is a known crowd and thus the din will be at a predictable level. c) Since I am hearing impaired, if it is too loud I just reduce the volume on my hearing aids. For normals, I’d suggest noise isolation earbuds (Shure SE-115 are nice) They are not active noise cancellation but make it hard for outside noise to get in. Allows one (of normal hearing) to listen to music at a lower level. Plus the Shure SE-115 series are rather robust. d) I suggest a netbook, if possible. If you can’t reach an outlet the battery life even with Wi-Fi is a decent 9 hours or so. My 17“ PowerBook G4 is just too big.