The recent Washington Post article about the etiquette of camping out in coffee shops missed the point slightly; it’s not that you shouldn’t camp out in a coffee shop, it’s that most of you have horrible camping manners. I camp out in coffee shops literally all day every day and – let’s just dispense of the pretense of modesty here – I’m welcomed at every shop from Foggy Bottom to Anacostia like a truckload of cucumbers at a women’s prison. I thought most of this stuff was common sense, but as my cranky uncle said as he towed out the four-wheeler I’d accidentally driven into his pond on a drunken moonless night, “common sense ain’t very common.”
THE BARISTAS ARE NEVER “INTERESTED” IN YOU
Don’t hit on the baristas. Just don’t. They’re like bartenders; they work for tips. They’re only being polite. And it’s not a level playing field; they’re a captive audience, so they literally have no choice but to endure your ham-handed, uncharming attempts at flirting. You’re being the social equivalent of one of those billionaires who pays to be taken on a guided hunt on a preserve filled with half-tame animals and then blasts away from the backseat of the Range Rover. Flirting with the baristas will guarantee that your entrance will be met with dread, annoyance, and possibly surreptitiously decaffeinated drinks.
STOP WEARING HEADPHONES
Why are you wearing headphones in public? Like “catchy tunes,” do you? Find any tastes but your own distasteful, do you? Are you eight years old? Grow up. The music, good or bad, is part of the coffee shop experience. Putting headphones on is like going to dinner at someone’s house and then pulling out a tupperware full of food at the table and being like, “no offense, I just prefer my own cooking.” If you really don’t like it, just go home.
Worse yet, you’re missing out on one of the main benefits of being in a coffee shop; the ambient coffee shop noise actually helps you concentrate. There are even apps to reproduce the low-level din of coffee shops, so you can concentrate at home. You’re not only being rude, you’re shooting yourself in the foot!
Always tip at least a dollar. This is non-negotiable. Some people will argue that this is “too much,” that tipping 50% on a two-dollar coffee is somehow excessive. I don’t understand this logic; a dollar is not a significant amount of money. You’re just being cheap and petty.
Also, keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if you spend twelve dollars on multiple pastries and lattes, if you don’t tip. That money doesn’t go to the baristas, and the baristas are the people who are going to be noticing and either encouraging or discouraging your presence there.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Ordering complex, multi-step drinks is probably a bad idea if you’re going to be showing up every day. The barista has to make the drinks by hand on the spot, so the dollar you tip for your decaf chai iced latte (which is, like, a six step drink) buys you a lot less goodwill than the guy who tips the same dollar but just orders a black coffee. Besides, what’s the point of those drinks? They’re the banana-berry sparkling wine spritzers of the coffee world. Don’t like the taste of plain coffee? You’re missing the point; it’s just a caffeine delivery system. Would you complain about the “mouthfeel” of cough syrup? Of course not. Just drink regular coffee you big baby.
Finally, if you order your drinks at a specific temperature (this is a big thing among European nannies for some reason), you should be thrown immediately in jail for a minimum of five years. (Or deported.)
I’m not just annoyed by people who watch videos with the sound on in public, I’m actually puzzled. Do you not know that you live in a society? Do you think this is anarchy? Are you a literal solipsist who believes that you’re the only person who actually “exists” in the universe and that the rest of us are merely one-dimensional projections of your imagination? This is the coffee shop equivalent of being like, “I have to go to the bathroom, I’m just going to go ahead and pee in my chair here.”
Also, if you watch videos while sitting on the toilet in the coffee shop bathroom, just know that we can hear it from outside and that we’re all judging you harshly. (There’s a dude at one downtown coffee shop who does this all the time; we can clearly hear him watching ‘Seinfeld’ in there for fifteen, twenty minutes at a time. Needless to say, he is not a well-liked personage.)
GET OUT BEFORE CLOSING TIME
Don’t be that person at closing time who’s faux-bliviously (yes I just coined that phrase) typing away as the staff is mopping the floor and putting chairs up. You know when the coffee shop closes. It didn’t “sneak up on you.” If you didn’t get your work done, maybe you shouldn’t have watched all those fail videos back around 5PM when closing time seemed years away. Get out, go home. If you make them say, “hey, we’re closing up,” they will resent you forever. They know you know.