The Art Of Working In Coffee Shops

2 March, 2016

Patrick Tomasso

I didn’t see it coming. I’d been sitting there for about ten minutes. Using the free wifi. Sipping a tall Americano with hot milk. Happy.

And then a voice says “How much per hour?”

Me: Freeze. Is this guy talking to me?

Him: “How much, you know – as he slips in a wink and points at my coffee with his eyebrows – per hour?”

Me: Yip. He’s talking to me. Is my bra showing?

Him: Looks at me expectantly and then says R-E-A-L-L-Y  S-L-O-W-L-Y as if I speak foreign, “I’m. Doing. A. Survey. On. Coffee. Shop. Etiquette. Maybe. I. Can. Interview. You.”

Me: Maybe not, mate. I’d rather stand outside a carwash in a chicken outfit.

But it did get me thinking. And doing a few interviews myself. For the longest time I’ve worked in coffee shops and common sense tells me there’s a right way and a wrong way to get on the good side of the barista.

Curious? Here’s my list of dos and don’ts.


  • Spend money
  • Order something every hour or so
  • Eat a meal if you’re there at mealtimes
  • Keep your voice down if you take a call or have a meeting
  • Build a relationship with the staff. Get to know their names.
  • Wear headphones if you have to take a Skype call or listen to audio
  • Be gracious
  • Say thank you
  • Tip well. Even if you’re all coffee’d out and only have water.


  • Hit on the anyone
  • Take your own food
  • Take up more space than you need
  • Plug in without asking
  • Ask for extra mints
  • Expect the staff to watch your stuff
  • Let your cables languish all over the floor
  • Stay the whole day, or after closing time
  • Download big files on their wifi
  • Steal the Oryx salt cellars. Really people.
  • Oh, and when your partner pops in to see you at your “office”, don’t smooch.

Did I miss anything? What are your top tips for working in a coffee shop?

Robyn Young - Personal Leadership Branding for Executives

About the Author

Robyn Young

As a personal leadership branding strategist, Robyn Young helps individuals identify and articulate their unique strengths, values and goals, empowering them to build an authentic personal brand that resonates with their stakeholders.

Robyn has a keen eye for aligning personal attributes with professional aspirations, helping her clients project a powerful and compelling image in their chosen field.