10 Coffee Shop Etiquette to Follow in the Mobile Age

As mobile workers who prefer to work in a café rather than the office, we’ve done our fair share of café hopping. So, we came across a few “funny” characters and behaviours that we wish to highlight here.
Nope, we’re not here to judge. We broke a few “rules” here ourselves when you get too comfortable in the places you frequent. It serves as a reminder to ourselves as well as to observe the coffee shop etiquette so that we don’t begin annoying others.

1. Pay attention to the barista while waiting for your drink.

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Your drinks are usually served to you at premium coffee outlets but with chains like Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, you collect your beverages from the counter. If that’s the case, don’t wander too far away or disappear somewhere to make calls. First of all, the baristas will be calling out your name in vain. Second of all, your hot drinks might get cold. When that happens, you blame the baristas, ruining their day…and yours too.

2. Good coffee takes time. 

Depending on where or what you order, craft coffees do take a little bit of time to prepare especially when it’s French press. Unless you’re ordering over the counter where your coffee is already ready to be poured into your cup, you need to be patient.

3. Don’t hog the seats.

It’s particularly inconsiderate for people to be putting their laptop cases/ bags on the empty chair in crowded places with minimum seatings available, usually in most Starbucks or other coffee chains. Put it behind the chair you’re sitting or on the floor instead.
When working from a café, mobile workers sometimes hog the entire table and making it their personal desk with papers, documents, plates and empty cups. It’s best to go for a smaller table if you’re alone or keep the clutter to a minimum so others can sit there too.

4. Don’t trip people with your wires.

It’s wise to sit nearer to the plug points if you need to charge your laptops or tablets or phones. Just because your charger has a long extended wire doesn’t mean you can trip people who pass by. Besides, you also risk having your gadgets damaged if it falls to the ground when someone trip on the wires while you’re charging them.

5. Keep the noise to yourself.

If you’re going to be listening to music or watching some YouTube videos, you might want to bring along your earphones or headphones. Imagine how much noise pollution you’ll cause when the cafés are already filled with people chatting and music playing in the background.

6. Don’t use up the bandwidth and slow down the Internet for everyone else.

Some people choose to work in cafés because the Internet at home is either down or they urgently need to get some work done quickly in the midst of being mobile. When you download huge files or stream movies, you’ll slow it down for others. Be considerate. Stop any kind of streaming or downloading if you notice quite a number of patrons are using their laptops.

7. Clean up your table a little. 

Not all the waiters and waitresses are paid to clean up your tables. If it’s clearly stated self-service or if you’re served along with the tray, you could just clear the table up and place it back to the counter or designated spots for dirty dishes. Keep it dry and clutter free so it’s easier for the waiters or waitresses to clean it up. 

8. Don’t make people watch your stuff for too long.

I know it can be frustrating when you’re at the café alone with your laptop set up when nature calls. You can always ask for the baristas or the friendly patrons sitting near you to watch your stuff. But if you’re unsure as to how long you’re going to take, then it’s best that you just pack up and leave. Alternatively, exchange numbers with the person watching your belongings so they could at least contact you if they have other matters to attend to rather than spending time staring at your stuff.
We had an experience once in Starbucks when we were asked by a lady to watch over her laptop. We had another appointment and we had no idea she took so long. She was gone for almost 30 minutes. We were getting anxious as we weren’t sure if we should hand this responsibility to another person. She came back shortly after 30 minutes mark. We weren’t happy but we didn’t have the time to give her a lecture, so we just packed up and left for our appointment.

9. Keep your furkids away from food and drinks.

Some cafés are pet-friendly and you’re allowed to bring along your pets. Being an animal lover myself, I’m very supportive of the idea. However, we need to know our pets and whether it’s suitable for us to bring them along. Make sure the pets are nowhere near to counter or the tables when food is served. Once we were at this café and there were three Huskies lying at the bottom of the table where their owners were sitting. When they were making a move to leave, the Huskies got up and one of them shook. We could see the tiny fur floating towards our table. We quickly covered our dishes before we have additional “ingredients” landing on our meals.

10. Don’t be a cheapskate! Buy something or more!

When cafés begin to limit Wifi usage and power outlets, we can pretty much tell the reason behind this. Once, I was at Starbucks to meet with a group of people for discussion. There were five of us but only my partner and I ordered Frappes. The discussion went on for over two hours. I started to get embarrassed and placed another order. Thank to those cheapskates I overdosed with caffeine that day.
There’s no fast rule here but it’s a courtesy to purchase something additional if you’re going to stay for over two hours. Just another cup of coffee or a piece of cake would be nice. Typically I prefer to go for brunch around 10.30 a.m., then continue to work ordering an additional cup of coffee or a cake until around 12.30 p.m. and leave before the lunch crowd poured in. If I have the intention the stay longer, I would just have my lunch there as well.
So these are my thoughts of how we should be a little bit more considerate to others. What about you? What else do you think we should add to the list?