Coffee Shop Coding: Good Shop Bad Shop

In a previous post I talked about why you should do your work in a coffee shop. Here I will discuss what makes a good shop for working and what doesn’t. I have a few things I look for when I want to work, and since I’m a fan of lists, here’s a list!

  1. Good Coffee
  2. Busy
  3. General Cleanliness
  4. Large Enough Tables
  5. Comfortable Seats
  6. Power Outlets
  7. Good Food
  8. Nice Staff
  9. Atmosphere

These are, in my opinion, the fundamentals of a good coffee shop. Mind you some of these are perhaps a bit subjective and some may overlap, but there are some specifics I would like to mention. Things like what dictates good coffee? And what defines busy?

A Fine Brew What Man Can Find?

Many people think (including myself until recent) that the world is inundated with fine coffee. But this is simply not true! Good coffee is a rare oddity that comes only from beans that have been roasted recently and ground just before drinking. The flavor and the odor of properly prepared coffee is different, and better, than that of mass produced coffee. Most coffee ubiquitous of the common coffee shop is old and stale presented in fancy packaging designed to trick you into thinking the opposite. One of my favorite quotes on the topic comes from A Coder’s Guide To Coffee – Tom Moertel’s Blog where he says:

Mainstream coffee sucks, and specialty coffee mostly sucks. Mainstream coffee is primarily stale, low-quality, high-yield beans, many times cheap robustas, foisted on a largely unknowing public in supermarkets nationwide.

Foisted, ha ha, bravo good sir, bravo! In his post Tom also gives instructions on how to go about finding, roasting, and preparing good coffee and beans. I encourage anyone looking to dig a little deeper to read it, it’s changing my world. But with this said you might be wondering what I drink in the “main stream” shops I visit, well it’s usually some kind of latte or other speciality drink involving espresso.

Chitty Chitty Chat Chat

Ambient noise levels are one of the main reasons we want to work in a coffee shop. So a busy shop is a chatty shop, you want conversation to be abloom around you.  Music with definable lyrics are often a distraction, but unintelligible chatter is like gold for the creative mind. While reading a forum (here’s a link, don’t ask how I got here) I came across this term “ambient sociability” that describes the idea being alone but still being surrounded by people.

Leitmotif

I believe a good atmosphere is one that evokes a particular emotion or carries a specific thought. For example, Coffee Cultures (one of my favorites) are decorated with rich browns, dark woods, soft lighting, and general earthy tones. All of which really make you feel surrounded by a culture of coffee, hence the name.

Being surrounded by a product of creative minds, a beautiful and thematic atmosphere, helps to inspire creative processes.

As a programmer I am always trying to solve problems, cause that’s what programmers do, and it requires creativity. Being surrounded by a product of creative minds, a beautiful and thematic atmosphere, helps to inspire creative processes.

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