10 Things You Shouldn’t Do in a Coffee Shop

Businessmen using digital tablet in cafe
Follow the basic rules of coffee shop etiquette. Sam Edwards / Getty Images

Coffee shops continue to pop up all over the country. Whether you live in a big city, small town, or somewhere in between, you probably have at least one coffee shop near your home and office.

Social

As social creatures, people naturally flock to places where they can enjoy refreshments along with others. In the most popular coffee shops, baristas get to know their regular customers and sometimes even create exclusive concoctions just for them.

Coffee shops are great places to meet friends for a light refreshment and friendly conversion. They’re also the ideal location for a first date because you can get to know someone in a friendly environment, not spend too much money, and see how the other person reacts to others.

Professional

Many coffee shops provide internet access, making them the ideal place to conduct business. When you walk into almost any coffee shop during the workweek, you’re likely to see folks with their laptops and other office gear or a couple of people conducting an interview. You may also see writers, artists, and other creative folks working on their latest project.

Coffee Shop Etiquette Tips

When you visit a coffee shop, you need to be mindful of others and show respect for their time and space. Here are some tips on what to do or not do:

  1. Don’t expect a free workspace. Don’t be one of those people who take up space in a coffee shop without buying something. That would be like moving into an apartment and not paying rent. Remember that tables in a coffee shop are for paying customers, so make a purchase before you get too comfortable.
  1. Don’t spread out. If you’re alone, choose a small table so others who come in with pairs or groups will have the space they need. Most coffee shops are fine with having you do some work as long as you don’t try to take over the place.
  2. Don’t hog the chairs. If you have an extra chair at your table, offer it to someone who needs it. Those chairs have been put there for customers, not your printer or laptop case.
  1. Don’t be messy. Keep all of your wrappers and other items that need to be tossed in the trash or recycle bin in a contained area. Before you leave, clean up after yourself. Letting things fall on the floor is just sloppy and rude.
  2. Don’t use extension cords that might trip someone. It’s best to charge your laptop before you go to the coffee shop. If you run out of battery charge, maybe that’s a sign you’ve been there too long and it’s time to leave.
  3. Don’t ignore others. You don’t have to become best friends with the person at the next table over, but you can offer a smile and a friendly greeting. You might even enjoy a nice conversation and a chance to make a new friend. After all, you know you have at least one thing in common: coffee.
  4. Don’t be impatient with the barista. If you like a straight-up cup of hot coffee, you’ll probably get that as quickly as the barista can get to your order. However, if you like something more complicated, don’t forget that it takes time.
  5. Don’t ask someone to watch your stuff. If you have to get up and use the restroom, you might ask another regular you’ve gotten to know to watch your laptop but never ask a stranger. If you have to leave the coffee shop for any amount of time, gather up your belongings and take them with you.
  1. Don’t forget to tip. A good barista has to train and work hard at the craft of creating the perfect cup of coffee, so show your appreciation with a generous tip.
  2. Don’t make too much noise. If you want to listen to music, wear headphones or ear buds. If you’re conducting an interview for a job, keep your voices low so you don’t have everyone around you knowing your business. When you’re with friends, keep your voices down to a normal conversational level.

If you go into a coffee shop in the right frame of mind, you can have a great time with friends, have a short-term productive workspace, or simply enjoy a great cup of coffee. Just remember that there are others around you who need your respect so everyone can benefit and have a good experience.