Coffee shop camping is one of my main hobbies. That may sound like an exaggeration, but I promise you it isn’t. I’m most productive when I’m not in my own apartment. Luckily both Athens and Atlanta have an excellent array of coffee hangouts to choose from, so I’ve always got a place to go.
Since today’s the first official day of fall, I thought it’d be fun to make this week’s “Coffee in Bed” about coffee and the art of the coffee campout. Naturally I asked some experts to lend a hand. Julia & Maura & I basically minored in coffee shop etiquette & booth stalking while at UGA. Our work study was primarily executed at Walker’s with some dabbling at Hendershot’s. Whether you’re in school or just trying to maximize your weekend productivity, hopefully you’ll find this helpful!
Expert - Julia Carpenter
Julia is an absolute rock star. A current senior at the University of Georgia she’s interned with the likes of CNN iReport, Elle Magazine and Esquire (just to name a few). She’s a diet coke lover and tweeter extraordinaire. Her work’s been featured in South magazine, The Daily News, Esquire.com, and on CNN.
Go to order? vanilla latté with skim milk.
Always up for: anything pumpkin flavored!
Self proclaimed: adventurous tea drinker.
Expert - Maura Friedman
Maura is one of the most talented ladies I know! From her top-notch photography skills to her advocacy with the Sierra Student Coalition, her passion is pretty darn evident. Not to mention she can throw a killer party. She’s also the former executive editor at Ampersand Magazine!
Go to coffee order? Small chai latté for creative writing and small black coffee for anything else.
Before You Go!
C – Do your homework: Before you lug all of your stuff to a coffee shop that doesn’t even have WiFi, figure out which one works best for you. First things first, narrow down what you want out of your coffee campout. If you’re doing a group project then you’re gonna want bigger tables/booths. Or if you’re reading a big ol’ book then you’ll want cozier chairs that are in it for the long haul. Either ask your friends or do a little coffee shop orientation to find the right fit.
J – Pack smart: Bring extra of everything - pens, notebooks, chargers, flash drives, headphones. There’s no shame in showing up with multiple bags. It’s called pack mule chic, y’all. When you’re set up to study/work/write/browse the Internet for a good long while, you definitely don’t want to be short on supplies. And bonus: you can befriend other coffee shop regulars with benevolent loans of all this extra stuff. How many romances have blossomed from a simple “Have an extra iPhone charger?” Answer: too many to count. *C Footnote – bring a sweatshirt/sweater/hoodie! Usually it can get pretty chilly, so packing a lil something to keep you cozy is always a good idea.
C – Know your game plan: if you really want to pull off a successful day of camping out then you’ll need to be prepared. If you just throw your laptop in your bag and claim “Today I’m going to be productive!” chances are you in fact will not be productive. So write out a to-do list or just write down your goals on a sticky note. Whatever you do make your goals concrete! Because otherwise you’re just going to end up tweeting about procrastination.
J – Use the buddy system: Yes, yes, sometimes solitary studying is easier to justify (“I’m isolating myself in a mental tower of productivity and passion for my work, so there is no way I won’t cross off all my to-do list items today!”), but there are also benefits to camping in a crowd. You never have to worry about leaving your laptop unattended when you rush to the bathroom. You can split purchases up among your shared booth or table. And with extra folks, it’s totally acceptable to claim that spacious corner booth as your own. When you’re alone, it’s a little less acceptable.
Once You're There
M – Delay gratification: I know you’re going to order a breakfast burrito and a muffin and a coffee and a latte and a cookie and YOU know you’re going to order a break fast burrito and a muffin and a coffee and a latte and a cookie (you need plenty of fuel for your work, after all), but space it out. You’ll feel like way less of a WiFi leech if you have a purchase in front of you, so order one thing at a time and go back for seconds (and thirds and fourths..) *C Footnote – pace yourself caffeine-wise! There’s nothing worse than being over jittery while sitting in a booth trying to focus.
M – Worship your baristas: Because at the end of the day your de facto landlords, the baristas, don’t even care if your official mailing address is this coffee shop as long as you’re a pleasant regular. Smile, make conversation (unless it’s busy and they have a line) and remember their names. Bus your own table. And for the love of all that is caffeinated and holy, tip these people. Either 20% or a dollar, whichever is more. I don’t care if you’re getting a canned soda, if you plan to park for longer than its normal consumption time, consider tipping a mandatory component of your rent.
C – Be a good neighbor: When you’re at a coffee shop long enough it can start to feel like you’re own little nook/slice of the world. But it’s important to keep in mind that you’re in a shared space! So if you’re taking a break from work, be considerate to your fellow coffee shop campers. You can chat with your buddy, but keep in mind that those around you are trying to stay focused.
J – Pinpoint what exactly makes this place great: — then you recreate the good vibes away-from-home. Your place is most likely your place for that magical combination of cushy seating, tip-top tunes and easy access to caffeine. Next time you can’t make it to the coffee shop, cuddle up with a blanket, brainstorm a playlist that feels like home and brew your own tea with the variety they sell behind the counter. Pro tip: To be ultra-productive away from your coffee oasis, use coffitivity.com. The pre-recorded track recreates a coffee shop’s ambience, with cup clinks and all!
Need a quality playlist for your campout?
Check out “Mute” a vocal-less collection of warm drone, instrumental tracks, and more!