Coffee Shop Etiquette

Coffee shops can be amazing. They can also become the bane of a remote worker’s existence.

Working remotely allows for a ton of freedom from where you can be creative. You can work practically anywhere with Wi-Fi (and caffeine), which makes the concept of coffee shops amazing. You can leave the house, grab a good cup of coffee, sit outside on a beautiful day, and enjoy conversations with people other than your dog.

On the other hand, coffee shops can be a pain sometimes – usually not due to the actual coffee shop, but the people around you.

Our remote team frequents coffee shops all over the United States. So it’s easy to say that we have experienced some frustrating and hilarious moments at them. We have compiled a list to make sure you’re not “that guy” at coffee shops.

Warning: If you do all of these things, we secretly hate you.



Don’t sit in a bad location.
Entering a coffee shop, you have a very akward 1-5 minutes immediately after you step in the front door. Find a table, quick. Oh, and everyone is watching you.

Your hunt needs to be quick and effective. Here are the things to look for:

      • Near outlets
      • Not right beside the cash register line
      • Not blinded by the sun
      • Not near the bathroom (Remember, coffee is a natural laxative)
      • Not where ‘creepy people’ can approach you (Personal experience…)
      • Not next to a huge table of women (Run away! It’s a Mary-Kay party and they will be there all day)

Don’t sit at a stranger’s table.
It’s not an open seat. Personal space says, “You can’t sit here, this seat’s taken.” You wouldn’t sit at an occupied booth at Chili’s – don’t do it at a coffee shop.

Don’t set your laptop down and then go order.
Swiper, no swiping!” doesn’t work in the real world. Instead of setting down your expensive laptop to claim that empty table, throw a couple of notebooks and pens down to save your seat while you order. If those get taken or moved, your life will go on. Not so much for your laptop.

Don’t sit at a large table or take up two tables.
Other people are trying to find places to sit. When there is one of you versus a group of five people trying to find seats, you will look like the jerk that took the six-person table. If it is not a large single seater “community” table, don’t sit there…it’s a trap.

Don’t make an obstacle course with your stuff.
No one wants to Double Dutch jump rope with your laptop cord. Also, obstacles + steaming hot coffee = disaster.

Don’t hog all of the power outlets.
Go the extra mile and bring your own power strip. We promise you will be popular.


Don’t use your outside voice inside.
We can hear you loud and clear…meaning, we know for a fact that the person on the other end of the phone can, too.

Don’t forget to bring your headphones.
The best way to block out noise is by adding your own. (It might not be the peace and quiet you want, but you went to a coffee shop.)

Come prepared. Buy 2-3 cheap extra ear buds and put them in your car, laptop bag, or purse/man-bag…just in case.

Don’t “forget” to plug your headphones in.
We don’t want to hear your techno music. If you didn’t listen to the advice above and forgot them, don’t try to listen to your own music out loud.

Don’t give parents with loud/crying kids the death stare.
It sucks. I get it. Their kids are running around and screaming while you are trying to work…but I promise, the parents need coffee more than you do. Take a deep breath. It won’t last long. They will order and leave.


Don’t camp out and not buy anything.
FYI, ordering water doesn’t count.

Don’t forget your manners.
Tip the barista. Say “please” and “thank you.” Clean up your space when you’re done.

Don’t take someone else’s coffee.
Duh. That’s not how you make friends on the playground.

Don’t complain to the barista if the Wi-Fi is awful.
They are not the IT guy. People go there for the coffee, not the Wi-Fi. Cross it off your coffee shop list and move on. Also, be careful, because some coffee shops’ Wi-Fi will “time out” during peak hours (usually only if they also serve lunch and dinner). Be aware of this before you order and get comfortable. Checking Yelp before going to a new coffee shop helps to avoid hindrances like that.

Don’t stay until they kick you out.
Don’t stay until someone has to come tap you on the shoulder and ask you to leave. The polite thing to do is leave 15 minutes or earlier before closing time.



(Yes, that’s actually me, in my favorite brew house, The Well Coffeehouse. If you’re ever in Nashville, check them out!)

Sidenote: If you realize coffee shops are not your “thing,” and prefer to work from home, try the Coffitivity app to get the background noise of a coffee shop without the pain points of actually being there. Great for white noise and productivity for a quiet day at home (and you can turn down the volume if it is too loud).