The coffee shop is not a library #PetPeeveStories

I usually have breakfast with my BFFs on a Saturday. This pet peeve story is about the coffee shops and those inconsiderate people who are bad for business.

I once had a conversation with a coffee shop owner and we talked about these people whom we will call “lurkers”. They are people who hang out in coffee shops, buy a cup (or mug) of coffee, set up their laptop, iPad and chargers! and hang out practically the whole day. They lurk around the same coffee joint – answering emails, texting people, editing videos – yep, they set up their office right there!

RULE IS – The coffee shop is NOT a library. Nor is it your office space. Perhaps some entrepreneur would want to open a co-working office space, more commonly called a Launch Pad, that serves coffee and meals but the space occupancy is charged BY THE HOUR!

I know that this concept has gained ground already in some areas of the Metro. It allows you to rent “space” and hold “meetings” and “workshops” for an allocated period of time in the confines of a “launch pad office”. Which I think is a great idea because that way, the use of the space is legitimately paid for. These launch pads also serve coffee and meals and allow you to bring your own food!

Coffee joints like Starbucks, CBTL, Seattle’s Best, Manila’s Best, and so on and so forth, have tried to avert those who abuse the coffee shops and turn them into a work station or office. One or more of the following were done:

– remove all outlets near the tables or chairs

– no complimentary WiFi unless food or coffee is purchased AND WiFi access is for a limited time only

– no toilet access unless you purchase a drink or food (the pin code is on the receipt!)

– redesigned their furnitures so that they are not comfortable for meetings OR for work or study at all.

Unfortunately, the customers only got wiser – brought their own WiFi sticks, battery packs and I bet, even wore diapers to the coffee shops!

What irks those of us who’d like to enjoy the food and company of the place is that when you get to these coffee/café joints, there’s no space to sit and eat! There’s a table for four but there’s usually ONE student or warm body occupying the whole space with his laptop, iPad, books and writing pads all over the two tables! Or someone who occupies a corner station that’s fit for six people but she’s alone and has her foot up on the sofa area with a cup of coffee and book in her hand. No chance at getting a seat there!

I’m not sure if these coffee shops were actually designed for these purposes, but honestly, it’s such a waste of space. There are other people who can dine there and a lost opportunity for the diner because there were people who just were inconsiderate of other people.

We need to understand that there are no “waiters” in these types of joints. It’s pay as you order and sit anywhere.


1. Be considerate of other customers AND of the business of the coffee shop. During the busy or peak hours, get a table good enough only for your physical space. This should not include your gadgets and other school or work stuff! Others are there to eat. Not to study. The coffee shop is not a library.

2. If you need to set up a meeting that will last 2 hours at least, rent a space at a Launch Pad. That way, you get your business done more efficiently without people who are starving glaring at your group.

3. If you’re planning to put up a coffee shop, aesthetics is not the major factor for it to profit. Practicality is. Have tables good for two people only. You can combine OR split up the tables as needed. If one person happens to take up too much space on a table combined for 4, go up to him firmly and say, “excuse me, do you have others sitting with you? If not, can we use the table and chairs?”

You can have the swankiest place but if these “lurkers” park all day there, you’re not bound to last 1 year in your business.

The coffee shop industry is just a phase. Losing higher paying customers to people who hang around the place with a mug of coffee for the next 4 hours will take a toll on business. Imagine if we were a party of 4 and would spend 1000 pesos on a 40 minutes breakfast vs the student who spent 100 pesos on a cup of coffee (and had a sandwich in his lunch bag) who parked there for 2 hrs, how much would the coffee shop lose in a day? Let’s all be considerate and think of making everyone enjoy that cup of coffee!

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