Random Starbucks Thoughts

I realize that this has nothing specifically to do with IT or the business world, but I have been spending a decent amount of time in coffee shops (mostly Starbucks) lately, and have noticed some serious violations of what I always thought was pretty commonplace coffee shop etiquette. So I felt the need to write a bit about it as I’m sure I am not the only one to see this kind of stuff. I can only hope that someone reads this and doesn’t act crazy. 🙂

Also in this blog, I have some thoughts on annoying things that coffee shops do. It’s not always the customer that is annoying – you coffee shops have some “tuning up” to do as well, in my opinion.

Starting with the etiquette stuff, if you Google “coffee shop etiquette”, you’ll find some interesting items referenced. But here is my version of that list – enjoy:


OK – we all know that Mom makes a great PB&J sandwich, but I don’t think it’s necessarily appropriate to bust out your lunchbox at the coffee shop, especially if you aren’t partaking in some of their coffee. Yes, I’ve seen that happen a few times now and it always amazes me. Like the coffee shop is in business to be your lunchroom and WiFi hotspot!? Get with the program people – they sell food there for a reason.

The Competition

This has to be one of my favorites. People come in, sit down, fire up their laptop/tablet, take their phone calls with a large cup of the competition’s coffee on the table – no other products purchased. Why don’t you just spit in their pile of coffee beans too? Again, as cozy and welcoming as the coffee shop may be, it’s still a business and bringing a Dunkin Donuts large cup of coffee into a Starbucks is just downright rude. Makes me wish that coffee shops had bouncers for people like that.

Headsets Please

I’m sure that you have a great music collection, or maybe that YouTube video you are watching is really funny, but that doesn’t mean that I want to hear it – maybe ever. ANY sound that comes out of your electronic device should be routed via headsets directly into your ears – NO exceptions.

Table Hog

OK people – I know you probably have a lot of homework, maybe some PowerPoints to review, etc. Or perhaps even that lunch box mentioned above. But if you are solo at the coffee shop, please don’t take up a table intended for 4, or sometimes even 6. It’s not your office/home and hogging all that space is really rude, not to mention that you look like a slob.

Buy Little, Use LOTS

Ongoing violators of this rule are going to drive coffee shops to install some sort of metering device at the tables. Basically, if you buy a small coffee, that does not entitle you to stay at the coffee shop for 8 hours. As much as I’m sure the barista enjoys your charming personality, they are still a business. I’ve heard many suggestions on how much to order for how long you are there, but I try to order something every couple hours if I’m there for that long (which is not typical). I figure maybe a medium coffee buys me an hour or two, then I should pony up for something to eat, a water, OJ, etc. At that point, you are basically renting space so that fair thing to do, in my opinion (and others if you Google it), is to continue to patronize the business.

Your Personal Office

This one is all about phone calls. Taking a few calls is no biggie, but if you are non-stop on the phone, constantly apologizing about the background noise as the coffee bean grinder goes, you might want to consider working elsewhere – at least for your calls. You are likely the one that needs to be reminded by the flight attendant AFTER the door has closed to turn off your phone – again. You know who you are – the coffee shop is not your conference room.

Long orders

If you can’t explain your order to a 6-year old, maybe you should dial it back a bit, especially if the line is long. I love the grande, quad, half-caf, no whip, extra hot, double cup, caramel macchiato orders. Jeez – I’m not sure the cup has enough real estate to write that down. My rule is the longer the order, the bigger the a**hole. Prove me wrong. 🙂


OK – so those were some of the annoying things that customers do at coffee shops. How about some of the annoying things that coffee shops do. Here we go…


Why is it that some (not all) coffee shops feel the need to blast the music like it’s a freakin’ concert!? I get that you have carefully chosen the music to play for the optimum enjoyment with my coffee and are likely trying to sell the CD, but dial it back a bit so I can at least relax or maybe even read.


At least at the last few Starbucks that I have been to, it seems that your WiFi session is only good for an hour and then you have to re-establish it. I turn my WiFi off/on again and it’s back, but I find it pretty annoying and generally unnecessary. Or is that your way of “metering” my stay there?


I shouldn’t have to hunt for a power outlet like I’m at the airport. Just about everyone I know wants to plug something in at the coffee shop so PLEASE finally get the message and have more outlets available. This is not anything new, so the fact that this is still an issue I find fairly annoying.


If I go to a coffee shop, am I the only one that finds it weird that some of them also have a wine list? This isn’t the norm (yet), but if I want a glass of wine, I don’t go to Starbucks. And if I want a good cup of coffee, I don’t go to my local wine shop. The two don’t mix in my opinion, especially since there are a LOT of teenagers there – seems like a bad mix. Serve burgers if you want – just not alcohol.

I am certain that I haven’t covered everything, so if you have something to add, please share as I’d love to hear about it.

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