The 7 Laws of Coffee Shop Camping (from a Habitual Repeat Offender)December 31, 2018
- Diana CamachoWords
Picture entering your favorite coffee shop on a rainy Saturday afternoon. You order a fresh cup of black coffee (or your Venti sweetened, salted, blended, low-fat, no foam, six pump mocha with soy instead of milk non-coffee/non-tea thing—it’s okay, we won’t judge) with a dog-eared copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower in hand. You present your privilege card, say thanks but no thanks to the overly perky barista trying to sell you a Sara Bareilles CD, and look around for an empty table for you to use. Unfortunately, there isn’t any. Instead, you see every inch of available table space occupied by people hunched over shiny laptops, reams of photocopied notes, and brick-thick law and med books.
No, you did not walk into a library by mistake. No, we cannot study/work at home instead. Yes, we really do need the dedicated book stands with the tiny spotlights to read.
As a law student, I quickly learned that studying at coffee shops provided numerous advantages. To the dismay and irritation of most normal coffee shop customers, we students congregate in such places because they really are more productive when we do so. However, since your local Starbucks is a public setting, we do have to make an effort to get along with the other people there. Before you go strutting off to your local coffee shop with all your work in tow, here are some rules to make the experience more pleasant for both students and professionals alike (and friends who just want to hang out).
7. Don’t hoard tables and chairs
This is pretty basic but most people have probably been guilty of this at one time or another. Resist the urge to build a fort around yourself using the café furniture. Chairs are for people, not your bags. Most coffee shops have bag hooks under their tables, use them. Your bag should not be prioritized over actual people who need to sit down. Personally, I bring my own bag hook in case the table where I’m seated does not have one.
Also, don’t spread out your things all over the table. A lot of coffee shops nowadays have giant cafeteria-sized tables meant for large numbers of customers. When you’re by yourself and you’re seated somewhere that’s good for eight to ten people, it might be a good idea to set clear boundaries for your stuff, making room for when there are no more solo seats or booths available. This will save you from the furious stares of hate from other customers who just want to work and drink coffee in peace but can’t find a free spot because your bag had barfed its contents throughout the entire table.
6. Try to order something every so often
Learn to appreciate your local coffee shop for letting you stay for hours on end almost every day by giving them some business. Consider it as just compensation for the fact that you’ve been mooching off their electricity, air conditioning, and Wi-Fi while keeping other paying customers from getting a seat.
I learned from a barista friend that they are not allowed to “kick people out” even if the cheapskates haven’t ordered anything. I know working at coffee shops all the time can get expensive, but we shouldn’t take advantage of their hospitality. If the place doesn’t make any money, they’d be forced to close down. Where would you go study then?
Support the café but also use your head. A friend of mine usually buys a box of Starbucks VIA. It contains twelve coffee sachets for around four hundred fifty pesos. He brings it with him into the coffeeshop and has the baristas make the coffee for him. If you do the math, that’s around forty pesos per cup. If you do same thing, you could easily buy that sandwich you’ve been eyeing because of all the money you’re saving on your coffee. Employ similar tipid tricks like this so you don’t end up bankrupt before your finals.
5. Make friends with the baristas
Baristas are trained to be perky and overly-courteous, but that doesn’t automatically mean you guys are friends. Be nice, and talk to them like people instead of coffee serving robots. If you forge a relationship with them, they’ll also give you priority whenever they have free beverage or food to give away. Once you get to know them, they are genuinely considerate people. I have a couple of barista friends in my usual coffee shop and they bring over a mug of warm water for me every few hours or so.
4. Use your inside voices
Studying/working at coffee shops is now a thing. For other customers who don’t like it, sorry, you just have to learn to deal with it. That said, we should all try to avoid being jerks to each other in a coffee shop on purpose. Don’t speak at the top of your voice just to annoy the students at that other table just because you resent their attempts to turn the coffee shop into a library. Be considerate, remember that the coffee shop is a public place. Believe me, not everyone wants to know how your date went last night.
Similarly, students should also refrain from being too noisy and rowdy. Some people actually want to work and not just pretend to do so. This is not the time or place to awkwardly flirt your way out of the friendzone with your blockmate. No, buying her a tall frappucino won’t help. If you cannot help but quiz each other, please just use your inside voices. Also, I do not get what’s so funny about studying the human anatomy that your laugh has to resonate through the whole coffee shop
3. Stop trying to murder people with your eyes
Unless you’re Cyclops from the X-Men (or really really cute), your looks cannot kill. Stop wasting your effort. Casting the evil eye at annoying customers will only strain your eyes and give you a migraine. Instead, just come up to the other table and politely ask them to stop doing whatever it is that’s making you contemplate a triple homicide.
2. Bring your own extension cable
If you stay for hours working at a coffee shop, chances are your laptop, iPad, or cell phone, might run out of battery. While there is nothing wrong with asking the guy with a table near an outlet if you can charge your gadget (especially if he’s one of those really really cute people I previously mentioned), it is just more convenient for everyone if you can bring your own extension cable. This way, you don’t have to disturb others just so you can keep playing Minion Rush on your cell phone while on breaks.
1. Don’t “save” a table and then leave
Nothing peeves me more than seeing an otherwise empty table (save for a couple of textbooks) when there are so many other customers who can’t find a seat. People who mark their territory by leaving all their stuff and then walking out of the establishment to eat elsewhere should get their coffee shop privileges revoked. It is perfectly acceptable to leave if you have to take a yosi break or a phone call outside, but disappearing for hours on end and rendering the table useless for anyone else is just bad manners.
Whether you’re staying just for the coffee or staying until you’ve finished your work, we can all make everyone’s coffee shop experience better. Got any more tips and tricks? Any other pet peeves? Let us know!