Advice for Students

Coffee Shop Etiquette

August 22, 2013  |     |   0 Comment

As a business owner, I often meet with clients, prospects and colleagues to conduct business at coffee shops. I’ll also take some time to use coffee shop Wi-Fi to conduct research, check in with my social media, or even do some writing.  This is the norm these days for many business owners, especially for those who telecommute.

Similar to the rules of etiquette when dining in a restaurant, there are rules of etiquette that people should apply while at a coffee shop – whether they are there for social or business purposes.  How you behave and conduct yourself at a coffee shop will have an impact upon the people around you and reveal a lot about your level of professionalism and respect for others.

Here are seven coffee shop etiquette tips to keep in mind the next time you head out for a cup of java to ensure you always leave people with a favourable impression by acting appropriately and with consideration:

1.  Buy Something

Remember when you attend a coffee shop that you are in a place of business.  If you plan to hang out there you should be prepared to buy their products.  Coffee shops offer a wonderful variety of food and beverages – not just coffee.  Many articles that I have researched on this subject maintain that, if you plan to stay a while, it’s common courtesy to buy something new every 90 minutes to two hours.  So don’t be cheap – support the business and buy something.

2.  The Coffee Shop is Not Your Personal Office

Many people bring their laptops with them to do work at coffee shops – this is the norm.  Notebooks and iPads are quite common as well.  These technologies are small and easy to transport and do not take up a lot of space. But remember that a coffee shop is not your personal office.

My husband picks up a coffee most morning’s on his way to work and told me about a guy that he has seen on numerous occasions using a desktop Mac and taking up a table for four.  He’s also witnessed the same guy bringing in his “office” on a small dolly!  While this may be an extreme example, it has to be said that if you have to haul your office to a coffee shop, just get a coffee to-go!

3.  Clean Up After Yourself

Be considerate of the staff and the next customers by cleaning up after yourself when you leave.  Most coffee shops have a designated spot for dirty dishes and bins to place your garbage, compost, or recycling.  Also, remember to push your chair in when you leave so you don’t block the line of traffic or cause someone to bump into a chair that you left in the aisle!  This is a courtesy that will be noticed and remembered.

4.  Don’t Hog Space

Don’t spread out like you own the place. The rule of thumb is one chair per person.  If you have bags with you, while it might not be sanitary, put them on the floor.  The chairs are reserved for paying customers, not your bags.

5.  Mind the Volume

There is lots of chatter in coffee shops, but don’t be the person who has to be heard over everyone else.  You know “that person”……he or she is the one whose conversation can be heard above everyone else’s from any place within the coffee shop.  A loud, over-powering voice can disturb the personal space and enjoyment of the other people around you. Use your inside voice.

Secondly, use headphones if you are funneling sounds through your computer.

Thirdly, if you use your cellphone, take the call outside.  Again, the coffee shop is not you personal office, so you should not use the space in such a way that may disturb the space and enjoyment of the other people around you.  If you do take a call inside, make it quick and be sure to use your inside voice.

6.  Share Bandwidth

It’s great that coffee shops offer free Wi-Fi – but this is not an opportunity to download the last two episodes of Breaking Bad or spend the next three hours searching online for the best villa to rent in TuscanyBe considerate and limit the amount of bandwidth you are using.

7.  Be Respectful to the Staff

The staff work diligently to service you.  When you place your order, make direct eye contact with the person who is helping you, smile, and ask how they are doing. Show your appreciation by always saying “please” and “thank you.”  Don’t walk up to the till while talking on your phone.  It’s rude.  And remember to leave a tip!


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