Coffee Shops Are The New Office Space

Tommy Barav
Supertools
Published in
8 min readFeb 14, 2020

Coffee shops are the new office space. How to work effectively from them.

The legend tells a story about a talented writer that took the Manchester train to kings cross station. Due to a technical malfunction, the train came to a halt and was detained for a few hours. Out of boredom, the writer came up with a funny idea for a book. She wrote it on a piece of wrinkled paper that was in her bag. The idea was simple: a book about a mysterious boy who received a special invitation to study at a school of witchcraft and wizardry. Later on, J. K. Rowling wrote that book out of a local coffee house named “the house of the elephant”. To this day, “Harry Potter” is considered to be one of the most popular books of all time, with over 400 million copies sold worldwide.

It would be foolish to assume that without that “technical malfunction” there would be no “Harry Potter” books. But in all honesty, the mind is a dynamic instrument. It needs escapism. It isn’t by chance that most, if not all, of the greatest ideas of humanity, seemed like they fell from the sky. Isaac Newton and the apple is a classic example. Show me one normal person, that sits underneath a tree and ponders upon life without checking his email account on his smartphone. How is all this connected to working out of coffee shops? Great question.

Escapism.

Successful people indicate that they don’t have a permanent working space. It is the change of working environment that allows creativity to flourish. A lot of people know the story about the “Yehudim” band and how they wrote the best Israeli rock album that has ever been written out of an abandoned house that they moved in to for a few months.

Sometimes we need to “escape” to find that creative environment. Working out of coffee shops instead of working at home or office creates a new environment that often stimulates our minds. Even driving or walking to a coffee house generates moments where we are “trapped” and bored. Those situations are like fuel to our creativity, and they are needed in our time.

Change your place. Change your luck.

The beauty of working out of a coffee shop is that you’re not tied down to one place. If you feel tired or stuck, you can move to a different coffee place. Is the wifi stuck? No need to call a technician. Are the neighbors noisy? Just go to your local coffee house. Working out of a coffee place allows you to focus solely on your work. You don’t need to cook your food, clean after yourselves, or engage in any housework. Everything is done for you. I noticed that when I work from home, around 2 pm, I can hear the pillow from my bedroom calling me in a sweet voice “come here handsome.” Now the way from a small siesta to a few hours of hard sleep is short (the writer of this post is for afternoon naps three times a week).

Noise is good.

There are many writers, screenwriters, and songwriters that indicate that a coffee shop is a place where they feel that they have creative freedom. Why is that?

A study that was published in the University of Virginia showed that the sound that is produced in a coffee shop, at 70 decibels, induces a 50% rise in efficiency. Yes, you haven’t misread, the same and constant orgy of sounds of the barista cleaning the coffee machine, the clinking of silverware, a crying baby, induces a rise in productivity on our part and also stimulates our creativity. These sounds are so popular that certain apps started imitating them. I recommend using Noisli, which is perfect for your desktop and Relax Melodies for iOS. By the way, Relax Melodies was chosen to be the app with the highest score average in the history of iTunes.

The Supertools you need to work from a coffee shop.

Trip mode. Such a brilliant and straightforward tool allows you to control computer services that drain your internet package and therefore saves you money and data. Often I find myself opening a hotspot on my phone if the coffee shops wifi signal is weak. That’s when you use trip mode and decide which apps are allowed to use your internet package and which aren’t. When I’m in a coffee shop, and I only want to write, I don’t allow internet access to Google Chrome, but I do allow access to WhatsApp. >>https://www.tripmode.ch

A laptop stand for champions. Coffee shops aren’t usually adjusted for extended sitting periods or for working on your computer for long hours. That’s why it’s essential to elevate your laptop to eye level to alleviate neck pain. This ingenious stand is not only portable, but it is also ergonomic. It isn’t by chance that this stand became one of the most popular tools amongst the digital nomad community. >>https://www.therooststand.com

Portable and wireless computer keyboard and mouse. If you often work out of a coffee house, you should take with you a excellent and portable keyboard and mouse for your computer. I recommend the iClever keyboard which out of all of the other portable computer keyboards received the best reviews on amazon. The iClever is portable but without compromising on typing quality. Regarding the computer mouse, I recommend the Logitech MX Master. You may notice that a new version has hit the stores but it is more expensive and in my opinion not worth that upgrade, unless you’re working on more than one computer simultaneously. The reason I recommend this mouse is that it is ridiculously comfortable and fits your hand like a glove. Also, it has dozens of configurable gestures that enable you to use shortcuts while working on your computer. >>https://amzn.to/2uyrIt8

To turn any laptop into a whiteboard. One of the best ways to convey an idea or to brainstorm is by using a whiteboard. The problem is that whiteboards are heavy and awkward and you won’t see people working with them in a coffee shop, right? Sketchcase is a laptop case that turns into a whiteboard. Even the erasable pens are included.>>https://www.sketchcase.com

A portable charger for all your equipment. When I walk into a coffee place I usually ask three questions: do you have wifi? Where is the table that’s nearest an electrical outlet? Do you accept your tip on a credit card? In order to allow myself electrical freedom I ordered Omnicharger, a sophisticated portable battery, which is probably also the only battery in the world that will charge your computer (!), phone and headset simultaneously.>>http://www.omnicharge.co

Noise-canceling headphones. And while we’re talking headphones, I recommend either the Bose QC35s or the Sony WH1000XM2. In our group, more people recommended the Sony WH1000XM2. Listen to the group. There are two reasons to invest in noise-canceling headphones. The first one is that sometimes you want to be able to control the sounds around you. For example, if the person in the table by you is talking in a loud and insufferable tone and is continuously breaking your concentration. The second reason is that it blocks other people from approaching you. Compared with smaller headphones like the AirPods, when using headphones that cover your ears completely, people assume you’re working and will not feel comfortable contacting you. That’s good for you. People are bad for you, put on your headphones.

Hide what you’re writing. One of the problems when working out of a coffee shop is privacy. You don’t want other people to be able to see what you’re writing. There are bad people out there. ChatMate is a feature for WhatsApp that allows you to go on hidden mode. That way, all of your photos and text are concealed. >> https://chatmate.io
Also, our group recommends using a special sticker called M that blackens your phone so that no one around you can take a peek. >>http://bit.ly/2zCWpmu

Video chatting like you’re in an operations room. I often skype or video chat from out of a coffee shop. The problem is the constant noise that usually isn’t well received by the other party. Shush turns one of your keyboard’s keys into a smart microphone. You decide which key, the letter R for example, and then any time you press the letter R your microphone will open up like a walky-talky and you’ll be able to talk. It’s so cool and really feels like your own little operations room. >>https://itunes.apple.com/…/shush-microphone-ma…/id496437906…

Additional tips for the coffee shop nomade.

  1. Use a VPN. Your privacy is important, even more so when you’re using someone else’s network, you do not want to be exposed to wifi eavesdropping. VPN allows you to encrypt your web surfing and to seem like you’re surfing the web from a different location. I recommend two services, the cheaper ones would be — Private Internet Access, and the other excellent one is — Tunnello, which allows you to install an add-on to chrome. >>https://tunnello.com
  2. Take a bottle of water with you. You should drink a lot of water, for the most part, because you’re walking around and it’s hot outside. It could be awkward asking the waitress for a glass of water every few minutes, mainly when you’re occupying a table at the coffee place for hours. Therefor take a bottle with you. I recommend the Dot bottle by Joseph Joseph. It’s attractive, simple and also keeps track of how much water you’ve been drinking. >>https://www.josephjoseph.com/en-rw/dot-water-bottle
  3. Don’t be A-holes. Coffee shops need to earn money. Their business relays on the coming and going of customers and on the food and drinks, you order while working there. I often find people who abuse the coffee place by sitting there for hours while working and maybe ordering an 8 ILS worth of an espresso cup (sometimes not even that). To maintain the coffee shop from the owner’s perspective and also for us digital nomads to have a place to work out of, do me a favor and be fair. Order something, respect the coffee place you’re working out of, and don’t overstay your welcome free of charge.

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Tommy Barav
Supertools

Founder of Supertools. 30K time-hackers community. Forbes 30 Under 30.