A question inspired by this article in the LA Times, featuring our friends who own a great little WiFi-less coffee shop in Echo Park.
I occasionally have conversations with friends about the “perfect coffee shop.” As I type this, I realize that may make my friends and I sound like we need more to do with our time. But, third places are important – increasingly so for emerging generations that are desperately seeking connections with culture and community – so it seems justifiable to talk about what the “perfect coffee shop” might look like, as that is one of the more common third spaces.
The perfect shop looks something like this:
- Locally owned and operated
- Good offering of drinks (bonus points if they serve beer and wine)
- Ceramic mugs for hot drinks and pint glasses for cold drinks
- Good music chosen by employees and heard through slightly-crackly old speakers
- Quiet but loud enough to have a private conversation without being awkward
- Don’t make you take a mortgage out on your home to substitute soy milk.
- Combo of “work” seating (tables and chairs) and “play” seating (couches or comfy chairs)
That list usually included “Free WiFi” somewhere near the top, but now I am not so sure. I have realized two things lately:
(1) I usually go to a coffee shop to “get some work done.”
(2) I usually come back from coffee shops having instead wasted time checking e-mails, facebook, twitter, news, etc. and, only if I am lucky, having gotten a tiny little bit of work done.
Last night Krissy and I hung out, talked, read, and played a few games of Ticket at a great little cafe in Silverlake (Casbah Cafe aka Not-As-Pretentious-As-The-Shop-A-Few-Doors-Down-Sia). Everyone’s friend – Unhappy Hipster – was there, loudly complaining about the cafe’s policy that certain tables are “computer free.” He, justsoyouknow, “came here to work” and doesn’t “understand why you enforce this stupid policy.” Watching this take place from across the room enjoying a computer-less visit and not wanting the candlelight atmosphere to be ruined by another glowing screen, I found secret joy in his suffering.
All that to say, I may have turned a corner in recognizing that the perfect coffee shop probably does not have unlimited free WiFi and that this kind of policy may actually help someone like me keep my sanity while maybe being more productive and creative.