Unsolicited Advice for Coffee Shop Campers

From someone who regularly goes to coffee shops just to drink coffee

Illustrations by Emma Meskovic

Coffee shop campers. You’ve seen them. Maybe you’ve even been them.

They’re the people who set up camp in a shop—pulling out their laptops or textbooks or circling up the chairs for a meeting. Some coffee shops are more welcoming than others when it comes to campers. But regardless of whether coffee shops are encouraging people to “stay awhile,” they still must make money to stay in business.

After talking to several shop owners and reading some pretty wild Yelp reviews, I created these easy guidelines to help you best support and enjoy your favorite coffee shop while being considerate of the staff and other sippers.

  1. If you plan to hang for more than an hour or two, especially during peak times, ask for an out-of-the-way place that works best for the service staff and doesn’t take away from their assigned tables.
  2. It’s a common courtesy to spend money in someone’s business. At a bare minimum, we suggest $10 per visit or two hours per cup of coffee. If you’re going to stay four or more hours, plan to purchase a couple of drinks and a pastry or a meal, and maybe something extra, like tea leaves, a bag of coffee, a mug or whatever else the coffee shop sells.
  3. It feels like we shouldn’t have to say this, but we do. Keep your shoes on. It’s a health department thing.
  4. Keep your feet off the furniture. You may feel comfortable, but you are not at home.
  5. If you regularly do your work in coffee shops, become a member of a coworking space. Seriously! It’s a great way to work alone, while being around other people, and they usually have coffee. (And at a coworking space, you can use make phone calls and complain about the Wi-Fi—things you should avoid at the coffee shop.)
  6. If you tend to use a coffee shop as your main study space, give your campus library or public library another chance. (Bonus: At the library, you can bring your own water bottle or snacks.)
  7. For meetings of four or more people, look for a coffee shop with a separate meeting room, or call ahead so that they can best accommodate you.
  8. If you want to use the shop for a personal project—like a photo shoot of your latest product—check with the shop owner first. (But Instagramming your latte is totally acceptable.)
  9. Talk to the baristas and try new things.
  10. Leave nice reviews.

Stacey Greenberg is the editor in chief of Edible Memphis. You can follow her at @nancy_jew.

Emma Meskovic is the queen of all trades at Edible Memphis. You can find her posting on social media, managing print files, designing ads or editing the website. You can also find her standing on a chair, taking photos of her food and proclaiming, “Sorry! This is my job!” @emmamesk