Perhaps one of the most talked-about topics to cross over from 2023 to 2024 is the whole discourse about the use and abuse of coffee shops/cafes. There is an increasing population of people staying at coffee shops and using the place as a temporary personal space, which has resulted in numerous viral controversies, such as incidents of customers’ unruly behavior toward certain establishments and workers. It seems that the heated and divisive cafe discussion is not letting down anytime soon and may actually continue throughout the year as more people whip out their phones to post about these incidents. To settle this long-running discourse once and for all, and to learn from shortcomings and valid criticisms, why not include proper cafe etiquette in everyone’s resolutions this year?
Ask, ask, ask
We can all agree that cafes provide a conducive and productive workspace for the public. Besides the food and drinks it commonly sells, the shop itself is part of its services, welcoming customers and giving them a comfortable and enjoyable place to consume their products. Some market themselves as “the third place,” and some establishments do prefer long-term customers. However, not every shop has the same set of rules or protocols. Therefore, when in doubt, it is better to be courteous and ask permission before being comfortable utilizing their amenities. If the staff or owner seems to be unhappy with you staying and using their space, immediately consider going to another coffee shop that would completely welcome your presence.
Pay what you owe them
Despite the goal of coffee shops of being a place of connection and comfort for everyone, business is still business and everything comes with a price. Order more than just the lowest-priced item, reorder something every hour or so, and leave a tip for the barista or staff member. As people say, open your purse! It is just appropriate to return the favor to the business that patiently and understandingly accommodated and assisted you during your stay.
Stay in one area
Minimize the amount of space you use and do not hog for extra. You should refrain from switching seats often. When you arrive, quickly find a cozy, out-of-the-way, uninterrupted place to sit and try to stay there until you switch seats closer to an electrical outlet. Try to limit your movement whenever possible. If plugs are inconvenient in your seat, ask and inform first someone near to it before plugging your device. But if it is still not enough and does not satisfy you, it would be best to find other shops that can meet your needs in that particular situation.
Sharing is caring: share your outlet or table space with others
Remember that you are not the only customer inside the shop. Coffee shops may have adapted to the trends of the modern generation but at the end of the day, it is a cafe and not a library that is intended to handle a large number of students or employees. If you are in a busy area that looks like a community workspace, share your electrical outlet and table space with others.
Provide others with their own space
According to tips suggested by specific coffee shops, one should not be too chatty, despite the need to socialize and build a connection with the staff and other people sitting inside. People should be reminded to not be a cause of distraction to other people who may be focused on other things and who are uninterested in sparking conversations and just want to eat or drink in the shop. In addition, avoid having loud phone conversations in the cafe that would last more than a few minutes as well as keep your gadget silent as what is said, to keep being mindful of other people staying in the place. If conversing loudly is a necessity for you, the proper thing to do is move outside.
Be respectful and discreet
This one falls under good manners and right conduct, which I believe we all learned when we were kids. Remember the golden rule, right? If you are completing work in a coffee shop, be respectful and discreet to the individuals around you, especially towards the workers. Treat them with the kindness and courtesy they deserve. Learn how to say “please” and “thank you” when they are accomplishing their job as it shows that you are attentive and you appreciate their service. Having patience and empathy for others is not a difficult task to do and it should be already natural for any human being. If things are not going your way in the shop, maintain your patience.
“Clean as you go” — make sure your orders do not make a mess. Based on experiences of baristas from a famous coffee shop, leaving one’s trash lying around and being messy inside the area, heavily annoys them. Hence, if it cannot be helped, give courtesy and clean your spot up as much as possible. Be considerate of other customers who would use the space and take the initiative to lessen the burden of the cafe’s workers. They are already stressed and frustrated about other things, the best thing you can do for them is to do your own part in the space you greatly occupy.
Do not ask others to monitor your things longer than a quick bathroom break
Although it is widely acceptable to request a staff or someone close to you to guard your belongings while going to other important errands such as a restroom break, avoid leaving your things unattended for any other reason. These people have also other things to do and most likely they are dedicating their precious time to those. If you need to exit the cafe, do not ask others to watch your stuff. Pack it up and bring it back with you when you return.
It’s best not to overstay your welcome unless you plan on ordering a significant amount of food over a few hours. If there is an instance that the shop gets crowded and new customers have nowhere to sit, consider leaving. It is vital to be reasonable and self-aware of the number of time you are spending working. Give other individuals a chance to experience the area and use its products. Furthermore, be considerate to the cafe which also needs to earn a desirable income and is obligated to pay its workers.
Always follow house rules
Several cafes are said to be imposing their own house guidelines so if you notice others following or not following the general etiquette stated, always defer to the said rules. You are free to ask the barista or any of its employees regarding what is and what is not acceptable.
The customer may be always right according to popular belief but that is really not the case in reality. While we have a large power over the future of a particular business, coffee shop customers have to fulfill their part in maintaining the ambiance and comfort of the establishment. Many jobs or sources of living are also on the line here and are expected to remain after they attend to the people who are patronizing the business.
There are numerous reasons why coffee shops are extremely utilized as personal space for others like there are not many public spaces available and accessible in the country. From being a place only prominent elites in society could afford and gather in the previous centuries, it has now evolved to be an inclusive place where everyone is welcomed and everyone is allowed to enjoy. That is why this year, let us learn from past mistakes and create a more healthy environment in this space.
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