Writers & Coffee Shops

Why are writers drawn to coffee shops? Is it the need for caffeine, or maybe the ambiance? Perhaps it’s due to the feeling we are supposed to write in places like that, since many other writers do so.

For me it’s the smells. If you’ve read many of my posts you already know I despise the taste of coffee, but the smell, oh man, it’s amazing. There is a comforting feeling being in a place where coffee fragrance fills up the building. If only the stuff tasted as good as it seems like it would. Don’t lecture me, we all know coffee is an acquired taste.

I’m not sure why the scent impacts me so much but I have a theory. My parents drank coffee every morning when I was young. When I was old enough they started sending me to the kitchen to get them a refill, and eventually make the coffee and bring the first cup. Little kids are weird so I thought this was practically an honor.

Eventually I got to the point where it was a hassle and I started playing tricks.My mom never once thought it was funny when I ‘tripped’ and threw an empty mug at her. She fell for it every time. My dad, well I only did it a few times to him (daddy’s girl here), but he hated it and thought it was funny so it wasn’t worth it. It made for great memories, for me. I imagine my mom still doesn’t find it amusing.

My dad passed away when I was 15 and I hadn’t brought him coffee in years but I still associate the smell with bringing him and my mom their morning cup. I think about standing near the counter and watching the percolator, amazed at how it worked. I remember the smiles and thanks and feeling important.

So maybe I started coming to coffee shops because I heard it worked for other writers but I keep coming because it works for me. I get funny looks because I order hot tea but it tastes great and gives me my caffeinated fuel. Being judged for not drinking coffee even gave me a story called The Secret!

Of course, I can’t forget the people watching aspect. Already this morning I’ve been fascinated by the behavior of three different people. One was a woman who was clearly angry but trying to hold it in and possibly not take it out on the staff. Another was actually a family of four. I don’t know what happened but they came in with smiles and walked up to the counter. After a moment the dad looked angry and they all left, with the mom and two kids looking embarrassed. I’m pretty sure there is a story brewing after seeing that.

The most interesting was a man who came in looking exhausted. He never stopped moving. He paced for a while then when he sat down he fidgeted. His head swiveled around as if he was looking at everyone in the place but when his eyes reached me I could tell he didn’t see me. When they called his name a couple of the people working chatted with him, asking why he hadn’t been in for so long. Even his voice sounded tired as he told them his wife had just had a baby. Ah!

The poor thing leaned on the counter, which meant he stopped moving. It was clearly a mistake. He looked like he was going to fall over. His knees buckled a bit but he shook it off, showed off pictures of his child and left. I hope he made it safely home! There is also a story in my head after watching him.

Some of my best writing happened in coffee shops so I will continue to be a typical writer and hang out in these places.

To any other writers out there, if you work in coffee shops, what are your reasons? To any who don’t do this, I highly recommend it. Bring your headphones and enjoy!


Photo by Ryan McGuire. Go check out his work, it’s amazing!

Sidenote: I almost titled this post: Writers & Coffee Shops –  A Love Story.

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15 comments

  1. I think writers are drawn to coffee shops because we can be alone but with others at the same time. It’s not necessary to talk to anyone, but we’re perhaps comforted in knowing that many of the people around us are engaged in similar creative pursuits.

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  2. I write in coffee shops simply for the aroma and the bustle. I love watching humanity get about their day with fresh and wonderful coffee. I don’t always write in a shop, but feel it’s a great joy when I do. Thanks so much for following my blog. Have a blessed week. Excited to read more of your posts. xx

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  3. Great discussion and backstory, Kristi. I was never a coffee-drinker until a friend of ours gave us a coffeemaker about 10 years ago. I still, like you, think many coffees smell out-of-this-world great, but I also have never had one that tasted as good as it smelled. Still, I drink it sometimes. I’m on an ice-tea kick right now with it being summer, though. In winter and fall, I’ll shift to coffee and hot tea.
    I only recently ‘converted’ to the notion that public places can be writing spaces (rhyme unintended). Over time, I’ve learned I tend to like, as someone else said above, the hustle and bustle, but yet the music’s so low and not my favorite bands or types of music, that I’m not compelled to sing or follow along closely (thus, not distracting). Also, the cafe I was frequenting when the kids were in camp earlier this summer, had no internet access (another good) and had a nice window view where there’s cars going by constantly and, even better, birds flitting about and taking bits of mulch to build their nests. Although it was comfortable and very, very quiet, I didn’t get the same creativity feelings at the library. So, in future, I’ll probably choose either a diner or coffee shop type place or perhaps stay at home.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I met someone recently who said they like to go to bars to write because the noise helped them. I think I prefer quieter places and my own music. I also didn’t like the library, maybe because it didn’t smell like coffee!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this post! I like coffe shops because 1) I love coffee, 2) I enjoy people watching, and 3) it gets me out of the house and away from distractions like yard work and dishes. Number 3 primarily.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The only thing I don’t like is in my city the choices are Starbucks, most of which are always full, one set up in the grocery store or a couple of local places that are tiny and also always full. People watching is great, but not if I can’t get a table. I’ve learned when and where to go though.

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  5. I don’t have the transportation to get to the one and only coffee shop in this town, but I would think I’d like writing there because I’d be alone in a crowd. There’s a certain feeling that pops in me when I feel invisible with other people around me. I notice more things. My senses [all of them] are heightened. My imagination has a tendency to soar.

    Liked by 1 person

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