Remember, back in the day, when people went to coffee shops for the sake of coffee and friends, rather than a caffeine boost and free WiFi? It’s amazing what an impact technology has had on the world. Walk into any Starbucks and observe all the people and their laptops clustered near every outlet. Some small local places are resisting the tech takeover by not offering WiFi or outlet access, but are they losing valuable business? Others are tackling the issue with time limits and password changes. There’s a plethora of different ways to get creative about regulating customers’ WiFi usage and rewarding the regulars – have them check in on Foursquare, solve a riddle, tweet something, text for a password, etc. Not only does this discourage the freeloaders, it helps engage the customers more than just “your latte is ready”. Strictly enforcing time limits can be awkward and off-putting, but, if after 4 or 5 hours, that guy and his $2 cup of now very cold coffee hasn’t left, it might be time to give him a nice nudge, or at least ask if he’d like to buy another drink (hoping he’ll take the hint). One small café in Germany has decided to take control by having their customers pay for the time they spend there, rather than the coffee they drink. This is a tad extreme, but a new way to look at the issue. Perhaps as technology and coffee shop culture continue to evolve, owners may try to steer their small business into either the tech/office vibe or a more social hub setting.
Coffee shops can be an ideal setting for an entrepreneur or remote worker when working from home feels too confining. You and your computer can caffeinate up, pop a squat, and get down to business while enjoying the lively buzz of the surroundings. As a customer, though, especially if you’re planning on staying a few hours, don’t forget your manners and coffee shop etiquette. You will be much more welcome if you order a drink every couple hours, leave a nice tip, clean up after yourself, don’t hog the outlets, minimize loud phone conversations, and be friendly with the staff. And, for everyone’s sake, don’t be that person who lugs in their whole desktop computer to set up camp – stick with laptops.
When you choose a coffee shop, what main factors weigh into your decision? The location? The atmosphere? The actual coffee? The reliable WiFi? Comfy chairs? Friendly people? Do you go out of your way to support a little local shop or head straight to the franchise because you at least know the coffee is decent and the internet is free?