More and more, people are hunkering down at cafés to conduct business. Here’s how to find the right one.
Unlike many Seattleites, I don’t take my coffee seriously. (I drink tea. Don’t judge.) I do, however, take my coffee shop seriously. I have a home office, but sometimes it helps me and my work to take my show on the road … namely to a café.
And after a decade-plus of hunting down power outlets and drowning out the manager’s favorite Tom Waits CD, I have a few thoughts you might want to consider if you’re looking for the perfect workspace.
Power. My ancient laptop doesn’t hold a long charge so I have to, first and foremost, find a spot that is lousy with power strips. Think about how long you plan on working, measure your juice, and pick your destination accordingly.
Sound. This is a huge factor when seeking to pop a squat in a café or restaurant. Does management consistently pump out a soothing Pandora station, or are loads of toddlers having an impromptu playdate while the barista blasts her band’s EDM album? If you like the space despite the cacophony, bring along some noise-canceling headphones. Otherwise, move along.
Visibility. There’s no shortage of dim, cavelike spaces in Seattle, which thrills me because my laptop screen shines out from the darkness. However, I’ve been in a coffee shop on a sunny day only to have my vision obscured by the glare streaming in through floor-to-ceiling windows. As much as you want that vitamin D, dark corners are generally better when working on a device.
Food. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve kicked a café to the curb because it only offers a limited number of pastries and sweets, with no salad, sandwich or protein to be found. If you’re going to stay awhile, do not bring your own lunch (the height of poor form!) but do eat beforehand or pop out for a bite. Better yet, find a café where you can score a tuna melt. And excellent coffee, natch.
Temperature. Do you run cold? Don’t be that Popsicle who’s always complaining and asking the management to turn up the thermostat. Layer up or beat a retreat to a cozier location.
Cleanliness. Are the bathrooms grotty in a Sid Vicious-at-CBGB kind of way? Did you just see the barista wipe down a table with the same ratty towel as a chair? Is a strange smell emanating from under the counter? If you’re a germaphobe, seek out a place that matches your hygiene standards.
Look elsewhere. If a café doesn’t float your boat, try working at the library, a friend’s house, a co-working space, your favorite bar or even a hotel lobby.