Coffee and a donut

Caffeine and community: Why I cafe-work

When you’re on the road often enough, it’s easy to feel rather displaced. You don’t have your typical work setup, and sometimes you completely forget something necessary, like a charging cable.

I usually end up in a Starbucks—if nothing else, they’re everywhere and I know what I’m going to get when I go there. Of course, I’ve heard more often than not from those who work in traditional offices that I’m just “wasting my money” on coffee. That might be the case if I also didn’t spend several hours using their space, wifi and electricity for my usual $2 cuppa.

But I also love supporting independent cafes who know what constitutes a good chai, which I came across in San Diego recently. Jungle Java even had great wifi. It’s an outdoor cafe, steps from my hotel and the beach, with a homey, comfortable vibe. Plants were everywhere, along with a table of locals who’d discuss local politics and gossip while their dogs were passed out underfoot. I shared my charger with a needy barista in exchange for a free drink. Basically, I was there almost every day when I needed to get work done, seeking a little community in a place I didn’t know.

A lot of my trips have included conferences in the last year and a half, and it’s always a mixed bag on my own willingness to “pal up” and meet others in a similar situation, not to mention some conferences aren’t the friendliest (that always confuses me: Why go if you’re just going to keep to your office clique?). But somehow in cafe or similar setting, there’s always someone who needs to share my Karma wifi, or who just stops to say hello (especially post-speech, which I love).

I suppose this is what keeps me coming back to cafes: Caffeine and a little community. And the world gets a little smaller, too.

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