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Coffee shop etiquette for the socially incoherent

Written and illustrated by Nathanael Bueno


Very few people have the privilege of obtaining an Adderall prescription. These unfortunate conditions make studying extremely hard for those with a challenged attention span. For many of us, staying focused is hard to do when we aren’t well-integrated into our environment.


Fortunately, caffeine—a rather realistically attainable stimulant—makes coffee shops the ideal workplace for busy bees. With more and more students heading to coffee shops to study or finish assignments, the environment of these cafés has to maintain orderliness as much as possible. In this progressive era of the 21st Century, new rules of etiquette should be enforced to protect these sacred establishments. Here are a few simple gestures that any college student would find useful in their next café endeavor.


1. Table Manners

You should always be mindful of table manners. There is the standard of sitting up straight and always chewing with the mouth closed, and please never take your shoes off and use the empty chair in front of you as an ottoman. Having your laptop out is obtrusive enough and there is no need to amplify that with any malodorous informalities.


2. Loitering

It is polite to never overindulge in your stay. Coffee shops are a sacred haven for everyone to coalesce and revel in each other’s company. Allow some room for that. An appropriate duration for your stay can vary, but it must never exceed six hours. By then, the caffeine rush will start to wear off and you’ll approach a caffeine crash. Baristas are less than likely to be equipped to handle a full-grown adult falling asleep at one of their tables.


3. Tipping

Thanks to Starbucks making seven-dollar lattes a socially acceptable investment, tipping is understandably dreadful. However, regardless of the quality of service, it is always courtesy to tip your baristas. The fact of the matter is that unless you patronize an independent business, your money is going to a multi-billion dollar corporation. Be generous and show respect by leaving a tip anywhere between 15 percent to 20 percent of your order in direct support of your baristas.


4. Be Nice to Baristas

In the event that the barista gets your drink wrong, simply take the drink as a loving gesture. One of the greatest pleasures in life is trying something new! And if they didn’t rightfully substitute the milk to fit your lactose intolerance needs, simply ask for the bathroom code instead of a new drink. Your absolute obliteration of that coffee shop toilet is much less painful than making the effort to torment the barista into remaking your drink.


5. Be Nice to Those Around You

Coffee shops are a place where students are at their most vulnerable. The combination of emotional frustration from dealing with a hoard of assignments and college-level sleep deprivation is never safe to enhance with caffeine. This is why it is courtesy to always bring your own pair of headphones to maintain your sanity and block off any distractions. Also, I doubt anyone around you would like to listen to a 15-minute TED Talk your professor assigned you to watch. The coffee shop atmosphere should be enjoyable for everyone.


After having rehearsed these new rules of etiquette in front of a mirror, you are well-equipped to study at your local coffee shop with confidence! Baristas everywhere will be thanking you for being an exemplary patron.

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