Two creams, one sugar. Please.

I am sitting here in a Caribou Coffee as I write this blog post. I arrived a little over two hours ago for chat class and am now playing catch up on emails and such (like blog posts).

Before my niece grabbed my keys and ran out with my car, I asked her to toss me a blog topic. She said “coffee.” I didn’t want to hit up that topic since I have already in the past. You can read that post here.

So I start surfing the web. And look what I stumble on:

No More Perks: Coffee Shops Pull the Plug on Laptop Users

WTF? I mean, they could have written this article about me. Because I have been here for two hours and the only thing I bought was a medium Mint Condition.

And I cannot even tell you how many times I have been here to work a nine-hour day and ran next door to Chipotle and brought food back with me.

[have you had one of their burritos? They are like, the size of a newborn baby.]

I am not certain that I agree with this laptop banning issue. Working in coffee shops is like, my thing. My entire graduate career survived because of my ability to plug in and get writing with the sound of a coffee grinder and music I am not cool enough to have discovered on my own. Coffee shops turned me onto Sufjan Stevens. Kate Nash. Pete Yorn. Massive Attack. coeur de pirate. matt & kim.

Some of my fondest memories are from meeting my best-est friends Trav or Kristen every Saturday, grabbing an open outlet before others monopolized them.

We spent hours here, grading or reading for class. I could not imagine getting any work done at home in my tiny apartment, by myself with all the amenities of home to distract me.

Now that I have moved to central NY, this is my backyard—my house is one of these. (and yes, I brag about it as often as I can):

So you would think that I would never have a need to hit up a coffee shop ever again with a view like this. Which means this whole “no laptop” rule shouldn’t even make me think twice. I get it. I cannot imagine how smaller coffee shops could survive with someone like me there, only ordering one coffee, perhaps a bagel, in a nine-hour period. But then I read this:

At Café Grumpy in Chelsea, Ty-Lör Boring, a 32-year-old chef, says he often uses his laptop at coffee shops, but loves it when there are none around because, then, people talk to one another. “You can isolate yourself behind a laptop,” he says, “but look at this place: Almost everyone is having a conversation.”

I don’t know that working at a coffee shop has ever isolated me. I can’t even count the number of times I have seen community build because of a full day at the coffee shop. I often see people like me, taking up space with a laptop open, hoping to find an empty outlet before the battery dies. We have all commiserated at the amount of work we have to do but we all bonded over the fact that here we sit, in a coffee shop, maintaining a sense of social normality despite our work ethic that has us working on a Saturday or until 11p.

Conversations always start up because there is a shared bond there—conversations I would not be having if I were working at home, alone in my home office. Even when I have houseguests, a coffee shop is still a space we end up in, bringing our work with us and, as always, broadening our community.

As a college professor, I cannot imagine being so far disconnected from the college community that I am not out on Exchange St. ordering a Zebra Mocha from the fantastic ladies at The Coffee House. I love that buzz that happens during mid-term, when everyone is busy and fret with late night studying. Imagine getting through those moments alone, without study groups or an escape from the dorm.

While the student center and library is always an option, don’t you need to know there is life beyond the college property, itself? Living in a college town and you know that you will be reminded that there are others living in your community. And hitting up a coffee shop in a big city is a chance to integrate into larger communities of diversity.

So you go ahead, coffee shop misers, and ban us laptop users from your place of business. But I can pretty much guarantee that my frequent visits for a single cup of coffee probably exceeds what a random customer buying a meal might purchase. Because they might only grace your establishment once or twice every few months but I am there all the time.

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17 thoughts on “Two creams, one sugar. Please.

  1. Ashley Yang says:

    They stop allowing laptop-users in coffee shops, and it’ll kill half their business. Guaranteed. You raise a good point–me coming in there twice a week and ordering 1 drink, even if I sit there for 3 hours, is still better than one customer who comes in once every month and gets 2 drinks and a bagel to go. And it IS a good escape off campus. Especially at HWS–there’s not a whole lot of places to go beyond exchange street…

    Also your backyard is badass.

    Mint Condition sounds awesome. Ever had the peppermint mocha or peppermint white hot chocolate at the pub? Mouthgasm in a cup.

  2. Michele says:

    doesn’t the Pub sell Starbucks? I am a White Chocolate Mocha girl there. But I would do the pep mint in a pinch.

  3. Abby Eustance says:

    haha i absolutely love coffee! you can probably tell because i bring it to me bascially every class haha! but once i get the coffee i put like 8 sugars in it i know its really bad but it tastes sooooo much better that way! i probably get that from my mom because she does the same exact thing! i think its good that the pub has starbucks i think they get a lot of business because starbucks is so well known and its a lot better i think than the coffee in the cafe! When i am home i usually go to the starbucks in my town and bring my laptop and just chill there for a while and i started doing that here too in the pub! its really nice and relaxing!

  4. Ashley Yang says:

    Yeah, the pub has Starbucks. Better than that swill from the cafe, that’s for sure. I’m home in Rochester for the weekend–think I just might have to cruise on over to Barnes & Noble and chill out in their Starbucks cafe for awhile!!

  5. i feel like you can’t have a college experience without doing your work in a coffee shop at least once. I know I’ve been a few times (mostly when everyone was being ridiculous and i needed to get work done) and they were very productive and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. I dont think having laptops cuts down on the socialization factor of a coffee shop at all. I think it draws in more people. It allows people to go about their business that normally would keep them locked up in their rooms till the wee hours of the morning and puts them in a public space where people breeze in and out with no problem. One time sitting around doing my work and someone came in and started a conversation with me because they liked one of the stickers on my laptop (the grateful dead one).

    This banning of laptops is bullshit and should not be allowed. I understand that those people take up room in these businesses and only order minuscule overpriced coffee drinks, but come on, some people are trying to not conform to the always-on-the-go lifestyle. they are taking their time in these places, they are enjoying the atmosphere that a coffee shop generates. And isn’t that really the point?

  6. sth2391 says:

    I completely agree with everything you’re saying. Before I start ranting about it, that medium mint condition looks amazing. I am such a Starbucks fan. I like try a variety of things, and sometimes I’ll even switch it up from coffee to tea and get the chai tea latte. The taste is absolutely amazing! Anyways, you bring up a really good point. I mean they have to understand that each and every day that you spend money on that one drink and bagel adds up to way more than that one person does on a single coffee every month or so. Plus your presence is key to luring in more customers. I don’t know about other people, but what attracts people more to an area better than the social aspect of it? Who wants to go some place where no one is? It feels empty, boring, and it makes it seem like the coffee or food at the shop is bad anyways since no one is there in the first place. I also agree completely with you in that the music, aroma, and presence of people are a great combination. Who ever gets sick of whipping out their laptop at Starbucks and spending the day there? I love it. It’s just relaxing in general. So c’mon coffee shop owners- get your heads out of the gutter and realize all of this.

  7. Rebecca Felt says:

    I won’t lie, I do get annoyed when I can’t find a space to sit and catch up with friends because laptop users have grown roots at their tables… Then I realize I only have this frustration in Starbucks [which, spoiled by local coffee shops, I find horrible, noisy and crowded anyway]. In terms of smaller cafes I feel as if there is already an unwritten code that if all the tables have been filled and customers are waiting users tend to wrap things up. It just makes sense.

    Eliminating laptops would destroy the idyllic “collegiate” connotations that coffee shops have. Ahhhh. This post did not make me happy… and actually made me really tempted to take my work downtown more often.

    The Coffee House’s scones mmmm

  8. Cassie says:

    In high school I worked at a local coffee shop that provided customers with wi-fi and had four macs, so customers could bring their own laptops or use our computers. Technically, we were suppose to charge customers by the hour if they were using the computers or bringing in their own laptops. Our bosses were so laid back that we rarely charged (it was some ridiculously small amount anyway so it didn’t really make a difference). But the main reason why we never charged was because that coffee shop became almost like a town hall-groups and even employees of other businesses would congregate to our shop and hold their meetings there. They were able to do this because of the atmosphere of the coffee shop but also because they were able to access the internet-it allowed them to meet somewhere friendly and more relaxed but still work. I liked working there because I got to facebook on my breaks…

  9. samgerken says:

    I completely agree with your attitude about the recent changes with some coffee shops. A coffee shop has evolved into much more than somewhere to grab a cup of joe. One can now visit a coffee shop and create new relationships and acquaintances from sitting down for a while or choose to make none at all. I feel that the beauty of coffee shops is their universal appeal. A customer should be allowed to use their laptop and complete work, sit down and relax in the comfort of other caffeine lovers, or just “swing through” on the way to work or other activities. As long as this customer gives some sort of patronage to the establishment, they should be allowed to do what they please (in moderation of course).

    The introduction of wi-fi and laptop use in coffee shops should not be seen as negative. This “group” of coffee shop customers should be acknowledged for contributing to the cultural and social aspect of a community. I have not been to any of the coffee shops in downtown Geneva but have been to many others before. Whether it was at home or while traveling, I have often used wi-fi in a coffee shop to check email or simply browse the Internet. In fact, I spent a large amount of time working on sophomore and junior research projects at my local coffee shop. I met there frequently to work with fellow classmates who were in the same group. These gatherings both strengthened our work environment and benefited the establishment itself. We were paying customers but also gave the shop better public relations. They were hosting students (us) to complete academic work while enjoying their products. I ultimately feel that coffee shops should not make drastic changes to their traditions and continue to incorporate Internet use into their atmosphere.

  10. Kat Copeland says:

    I dont know what I would have done this summer without internet in coffee shops. I worked in Boston and the place I stayed at didn’t have free internet and i wasn’t going to buy it. So i literally spent most of my night at the local starbucks. It saved my life. Not only was I able to drink delicious coffee, but I was also able to reconnect with the world. I think having internet at coffee shops and other places like that is such a good idea because the longer you sit there the hungrier you get. I read online the other day that most McDonalds are going to free wifi this year. With technology becoming so great, I dont think there is any other way around it. Also, when I lived in Spain, I relied on cafes having internet to connect with my family and friends because my host family didn’t have internet. What is a coffee shop without free wifi?

  11. ghawk65 says:

    I have to admit the idea of cutting the use if laptops in coffee shops is just dumb. Just this last weekend I went into the coffee shop downtown and all the tables were taken including laptop users. I was annoyed at first but they quickly left so that was no big deal. Maybe I’m looking at things the wrong way but I’m all for the no laptops in large chain coffee places for no other reason it’ll help smaller businesses. This move is the dumbest thing I’ve heard especially after the discussion last Friday. Who needs more coffee then someone who is working away? Better to have a coffee version of an almond joy then the instant powder from the cupboard. If the coffee shops have a problem with space then perhaps the shop should invest in a couple more tables, expanding the shop or just setting up something outside. In either case no matter how one looks at it. It is better for the business and atmosphere if you have a whole bunch of people buying and working. Then an over glorified cafeteria line.

  12. The RG Spot says:

    I hate coffee shops. after going into them i feel like worse of a person. for coffee bagels and what not ill stop at a deli or hit dunkin donuts. I can proudly say i have never been into a starbucks and will never go. i cant think of any one thing that i would want to do less than sit in a coffee shop. but this is just mee

  13. Rachel says:

    Alright so i agree with you thaat they should not BAN laptop users! That just not smart for business. Usually these avid laptop using coffee shop going people are regulars at their joint and bring that coffee shop of choice some good revenue. I do think it’s kind of an interesting concept, working in a coffee shop. Interestingly enough I am in my first year of college and have yet to step foot in a coffee shop with a laptop. i am not against it, I just dont know how much work I would get done, orrr if i would just eating the whole place! Pastries are a weakness of mine! there is a comedian, Brian Reagan, he’s got a funny joke about laptop users in coffee shops. haha he talks about the concept of public working.. like “oh yea are you writing a novel?” “oh no I’m just doing some buiness on excel” “oh well you want to watch me write and then I can watch you?” HA! I dont know something like that, it’s pretty funny. Makes me think, haha kind of one of the reasons I havent done work in a coffee shop 😉

  14. Anonymous says:

    I loooove coffee, when i was in high school I was convinced that I paid for at least one Starbucks employee’s college education. I have never done work at a coffee shop but always thought that it was a great option, so i’m really sad that these coffee shops are now starting to pull the plug on this phenomenon. It seems as if more and more businesses are focusing on money rather than the experience of a customer.

  15. Chip Siarnacki says:

    Coffee is very enjoyable, and is an essential part of the college lifestyle. Every morning, except for weekends, I go to the cafe and get my one cup of coffee. There are always at least six other people doing the same thing, no matter what time of day it is. Also, in class, at least 1/3 of the students are drinking java, except in the Mac Lab because there are no beverages allowed.

    As far as doing schoolwork at a coffee shop, I never have been able to do that. I feel like I am more productive when I am in a very quiet place. In a public place, there are so many distractions that tend to be more exciting than the work you have to do. I find it strange that coffee shops are cutting the cord on internet use. I thought that having the free internet brought in more customers, but I guess from an economic sense, it did not make sense to the executives. Still, I think there is a whole crowd that goes to coffee shops for this very reason: to work on a computer and drink coffee.

  16. Thee idea of cutting the use if laptops in coffee shops is STUPID! Coffee shops attract college and high students that need coffee to wake them up so they can do work! If coffee shops started to charge people for wifi or completely took wifi away, their franchise would suffer tremendously- no doubt! As I student, I enjoy doing my work in an environment that has people around, light music playing and people talking…a coffee shop setting. I can’t imagine Starbucks getting rid of their wifi capabilities. We are now starting to see lower franchises like McDonald’s and Burger King trying to turn into a coffee shop setting by adding wifi to their restaurants and by having a larger coffee menu. And has this worked? YES! Maybe not as many as Starbucks, but students are starting to do work in these fast food restaurants because of the setting and coffee that keeps them going.

  17. Gabby Mylod says:

    This post really reached out to me because sitting in a coffee shop is one of my favorite things to do. There is a coffee shop in my hometown where my friends and I meet all the time. I always order a drink because I am obsessed with all coffee drinks and a lot of times I’ll order one of their paninis. Most of the time we all get at least one drink but sometimes out of my group of 8 friends, only a few of us order something. Then we will sit there for hours and hours just talking. Everyone usually finishes what they ordered within 20 minutes and we’ll sit there for up to 3 hours afterwards and not order anything else. I always feel bad because the people who run the shop are so nice and I’m sure it happens all the time but we really just use the coffee place to socialize. Honestly I feel like that’s what coffee houses were invented for. It’s so hard to find a place where you can meet your friends casually and just talk and I feel like coffee houses are just the best place to go. I absolutely love the atmosphere in coffee houses with the aroma of coffee and light music in the air. There is simply no better feeling than sitting in a coffee house all afternoon. I don’t think I’ve ever brought my laptop because being a science major most of my work involves a humongous textbook and countless exercises on paper, but if I could, I would do all of my homework in this environment. No matter what mood I’m in beforehand, I am instantly relaxed when I walk into a coffee house. So it totally sucks if they’re going to restrict people from using their laptops in coffee houses. I understand that it makes it hard on business but lots of people order coffees to go so it must even out. I mean I guess since it’s only in the busy hours of the day it’s not too bad but I mean it’s kind of a slap in the face to regular customers to say you can’t use your laptop unless you’re eating and drinking. You would think that local businesses (which most coffee shops are) would want to promote the coming of regulars into their establishments but this rule seems like it’s going to change that. I can’t say that banning laptops would really affect me that much but I see lots of people coming in on their lunch breaks using their laptops and it would totally suck if they could no longer do that.

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