Top 4 qualities of a good cafe space for writers
One of my favorite places to write is in a cafe. As an introvert, I like to be in my own head space, but I’m aware that it isn’t always healthy to do this in solitude. Therefore, I often find further inspiration from sitting in a buzzing place where I can comfortably tap in and out of my own world.
Now, I don’t know about for others, but for me, not just any cafe will do. With this in mind, I like to do quite a bit of research before settling on a location and I am willing to go a fair bit out of my way to a location upon completing my due diligence.
So, what are these qualities?
This might go without saying, but obviously a good café must have good coffee.
Luckily, I currently live in Italy where this is not a problem and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to drink it. The only catch, really, is that most coffee sizes in Europe are small — to justify the low price. As an American, this took me a little bit of adjustment, but overall, I would rather have delicious coffee in a small cup for one or two euros than a large cup for more that tastes mediocre.
While coffee can be said to be in the tastebuds of the drinker, I suspect that most coffee lovers agree on what is a good or bad brew.
Steady Flow of Customers
Generally speaking, if a café has good coffee, it will have a steady flow of customers coming and going.
While some might think that a writer would prefer a sleepy place where there won’t be as much distraction, I am not that kind of writer. If I wanted quiet and distraction-free, I could stay home and write in my own private space. Instead, I like to have a place that is fairly busy.
When there is a steady flow of customers, there is also a regular chance of seeing someone or something that can spark inspiration for a character description, storyline shift, or even a completely new plot altogether.
On the flip side, the flow must be steady rather than rush hour peaks. This, for me anyway, is because it starts to become overwhelming when suddenly there are a lot of people around. Trying to absorb all the different possible ideas can be a stimulation overload causing me to shut the door to any potential muses completely.
Plenty of Seating
Now, this is where the customer-venue relationship can become a bit tricky depending on the café policy and general values of those who run the space.
Some spaces are small and do not encourage customers to linger too long inside or around the café since it could limit their profits if someone parks themselves in a seat for too long. Other spaces can be too large where the cafeteria/warehouse concept can prevent one from being able to focus on anything other than their food and drink. So, like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, it is best to find one that is just right.
Cafés that have seating inside and out with lots of lighting are perfect. These types of places can often be found near universities or business centers as they are more comfortable with people possibly studying or popping in for a meeting over coffee.
If I am new to an area, then I often do a Google search on “best remote working cafes in ____” to see what others say or if there are dedicated reviews to this particular style of venue.
Finally, the ambience of a space is important. Now, I know that this might seem obvious, but a lot of people — writers included — will make do with a dark and subtle sound kind of place. I question the productivity level reached in such a venue.
In my online search for places, I will always see if the potential place has pictures of both the inside and outside. Food and drink pictures are nice, but at the end of the day I am going there to write. So, there needs to be plenty of light — and natural light is obviously better than fluorescent.
Also, I look at the decor.
Generally, shabby chic or natural tones in the tables and chairs mean that the owners are going to have created a space that will be open to letting customers stay for longer periods of time. If you like the decor of a place, then it is likely the space will suit you in a like-minded kind of way.
So, I most often decide if it is worth visiting a place based on their online pictures, website presence, and on occasion reviews.
Well, there you have it. These are my top four qualities in choosing a café space to do my writing. It is fun to try out different places, but it is also important to be open to the fact that not everywhere will be as advertised. I’ll include some reviews of places I’ve visited for writing in future posts.
In the meantime, please comment and connect! I want to share about my writing processes, journey as I work on a book draft, and beyond. Mostly, I hope to support, encourage and inspire fellow current or aspiring writers to open 📖 the sunshine ☀️ into your hearts ❤️ through the stories📚 we all have to tell.