In this episode B and Jack talk about how to find a good coffee shop to work from as a digital nomad. First, they cover in which situations this advice is relevant. After that, they present the 13 main factors to consider when you are selecting a coffee shop as your working location.
1.1. The topic within the Digital Nomad Life System
The Digital Nomad Life System is a 6-step meta-system created by us at Nomad Tactics that aims to explain how someone can go from living a non-nomadic normal life to living an optimized digital nomad life.
The fourth step of the system is called the “Arriving Process”. This can be understood as the things a digital nomad needs to do once you arrive in your new base (the city you will stay in) to make sure you will be properly settled there in order to make the most out of the stay. The reason why this topic fits into the arrival process is that we advocate the idea that digital nomads should find a place to work from as soon as they get to their new bases in order to set a routine. So if you intend to work from public wifi, like a coffee shop, all these considerations that we are about to make are relevant in this stage in order to figure out what is the best coffee shop available to you to work from once you get to the new city.
To have a general overview of the Digital Nomad Life System you should listen to this episode.
1.2. When and how this advice is relevant
So in last week’s episode, we talked about how to find fast internet to work as a digital nomad. In that episode, I presented a number of possible places and different ways you could find fast internet. Among those were coworking spaces, tethering internet from a local sim card, public wifis, etc.
All of those are great options but one option that is very popular among digital nomads is to work from public wifi, like from a coffee shop.
In the last episode, I broke down public wifis into what I called well-research public wifi and random public wifi. I said you should prefer well-research public wifi if you want fast internet. You might be asking yourself, what exactly are well-researched public wifi? Well, this simply means the wifi that you research beforehand that has a high likelihood of providing you fast internet. These can be wifi from a coffee shop, hotel lobby, etc. I contrast those with what I call random public wifis, which are simply the wifi around in the coffee shop around the corner which you have no idea if it is fast or not.
I said there are a couple of different ways to find fast wifi. One way is to ask the local digital nomad Facebook group. Another way is to use a crowdsourcing service to locate wifis like wifimap.io. Also, you can check nomadlist.com to see their recommended coffee shop in each city. Finally, one good service to find good public wifis is https://workfrom.co/. This app is a crowdsourced service where users can input a number of features of different public wifi locations. Among those features internet speed is one.
This is all well and good as far as wifi goes, but if you want to find a reliable good public place to work from, we need to consider other things besides just the wifi. In other words, wifi is only part of the equation, there are other relevant factors to watch out for. These are things like, opening hours, having energy plugs, among other things.
So in today’s episode, we aim at presenting all the relevant factors to consider. Note that these considerations apply for both well-research public places (i.e. places that you previously research beforehand) or random public places. The only difference is that in the former it is to check what you previously research once you get to the place. Yes, I am advocating that you should always double-check the information you researched by one of the methods previously mentioned (e.g. Facebook group, nomad list, work from), from say a coffee shop, once you get to the actual coffee shop. On the other hand, in the case of random public places, it is a matter of checking all the factors once you get there since you will have no background information.
Also, it is important to notice that all the factors that I am about to present only make sense if you intend to stay a reasonable amount of time (or ideally if you intend to become a regular to the place) since checking will take some time. So if you are staying 1 or 2 hours, I would not worry too much.
Finally, it is important for you to check all of these factors before you “commit to a place”. What do I mean by committing to a place is buying something in order to be “allowed” to work from the place. If you commit to the place before checking those things you might be in a situation where you just bought a coffee and the place will close in 2 hours. Thus you will need to go to the next place and commit yourself again, which will cost you more money and even more importantly valuable time.
1.3. The 13 factors to consider when selecting a coffee shop to work from
A. Internet speed
This should be no surprise that the first factor you should watch out for when you are selecting a public place to work is internet speed. Basically what you need to do here is to check the internet speed by using a tool like internetpeed.net. For most people who work with the internet, the recommended download speeds are from between 10 to 20 Mbps. The exception is video content creator. If you are interested in this topic you should listen to episode 33 where we talk exclusively about how to find fast internet as a digital nomad.
B. Energy sockets
Another important thing to look out for is if there are energy plugs available. This should be a no-brainer if you intend to have a long day of work in the place. So not only you should look around the public space if there are any energy plugs but also if the tables next to such energy plus are available or not. By the way, don’t forget to bring your universal adaptor (*this is the one I recommend) to the coffee shop. The only expectation of this rule would be if you have a full battery on the laptop and intend to stay only a few hours.
C. Opening hours
This happen to me a few times. I will go into a coffee shop and look around the place and like what I see. Check the internet speed and it is fast. Finally commit to the place by buying things to eat and drink. Just to find out the place is about to close in 45 minutes. It is categorical that you check the working hours since this change drastically from place to place and you want to get a place that suits your needs in terms of working hours. If you are looking for places to work in the late hours or if you are looking for a 24h place, then probably your best bet will be chain coffee shops or hotel lobbies.
The lighting is essential for a number of reasons. I would advise you to always choose places that are well-lit. Preferably with sunlight. There are two main reasons for that. First, well-lit places won’t strain your eyes. Independently if you are working with paper or on a laptop screen a well-lit environment is always easier for your eyes. Secondly, by having a well-lit place you can avoid the feeling of sleepiness that is all too familiar to us.
E. Seats’ ergonomics and comfort
If you are planning to stay working long hours in a place, the ergonomics and comfort of the chair/table matter a lot. This can be broken down into the chair being comfortable and the ergonomics of the chair in relation to the table being good. This is usually understood in terms of the height of the chair is in relation to the table.
F. Noise and busyness
Let us start with the noise. This will depend on you as a person, but for most people, the noise levels are crucial because places that are too noisy are hard to work from since you cannot really concentrate. Thus, you should prefer places without loud music and/or too much chattering in the background. One workaround solution would be to bring with you a noise-canceling headphone if you have one of those.
Now let us talk about busyness. On the one hand, busyness is an important factor. Similar to noise, a place that is too busy is hard to concentrate well especially if there are always people coming and going around you. There is also another reason why business is important. If a place is too full, it is likely there are many people simultaneously connected to the internet. So unless the internet network has a very high bandwidth, most likely you will have problems with the internet connection both in terms of speed as well as stability. Thus, you should always prefer to work in places that are not that busy.
This is the kind of thing that you might not mind in the first 30 minutes once you get to the place. For instance, you might get to the place and the AC is very strong. This is a common thing in chain coffee shops. You will enjoy the cool temperature in the beginning especially if the outside is extremely hot. Yet, trust me, after 1 or 2 hours the temperature will be insufferable. Independently if a place is too hot or too cold, which seems to me to be the most common scenario, uncomfortable temperatures will hinder your ability to work effectively. Always look for a place with a comfortable temperature.
H. Coffee shop’s policy
This is not an issue in all places, but you should figure out if there is any special policy in the place like minimum spending, the maximum amount of hours you can stay there if the place can only be used by certain people (e.g. hotel guests in the case of hotel lobbies). Figure those out before committing to the place in order to avoid unexpected surprises later on.
This is perhaps the most subjective factor within our list. Yet, at least for me, extremely important. The first difficult thing about this factor is that it is hard to define in very specific terms what vibe is. The way I think about it is the overall feeling a place gives you. This could perhaps be broken down into smaller factors like light, music, type of people that go there, among other things. But that is not the point, I am not trying to define vibe here since I think most people intuitively understand it. Anyway, my advice here is to only commit to working in a public place where you feel you have a great or at least neutral vibe. A bad vibe is a no-no. In my experience, if the public place gives you a good vibe not only you will be more productive in your work but also will boost your sense of well-being overall for the rest of the day.
If you intend to work long hours in a place, inevitably at some point you will need to go to the toilet. Therefore, I think it is always smart for you to pick a public place with a toilet. Sure, you could go out to find a toilet and then come back. But there are some drawbacks to doing that. You will spend time finding a toilet that you can use outside, when you come back you might have lost your seat, or when you come back the staff might ask you to buy again if they don’t remember your face
This is a bit optional, but nonetheless important in my opinion. Sometimes we get so caught up with work as digital nomads that we forget we are travellers after all. You should not forget that. Hence my advice here is to look for unique public places to work. By doing so, you can be working while being able to experience the city, you are staying on as a digital nomad by osmosis (i.e. in an indirect manner by simply going to places locals go). In practical terms, this translates into leaving the chain hotel or coffee shop to be your last option to work. As my first option, I would always try to go for local independent places that really provide something unique.
L. Food quality and price
In most public places you will need to buy something in order to be “allowed” to work in a place. That I have been calling committing to a place this far. You might think the quality and price are irrelevant since you are just going there to work. Yet, I think that matters a lot especially if we assume that once you find a good place to work you will go back there quite regularly. Let us start with the food and drinks quality. This should be quite straightforward if you are buying drinks regularly, say a coffee, the coffee better to be good or at least not bad. Who would want to repeatedly eat or drink something bad? More importantly, the average food and beverage cost varies quite drastically from place to place. Thus, if you end up paying too much for the public place to work, it might not be worth it. For instance, imagine if you find a place with the coffee is 5 USD, which is a very possible price for independent coffee shops nowadays in many cities around the world. Now say that you take two coffees a day since you work long hours there. That’s a total of 10USD a day. In a month it would be 200 USD if you working five times a week. That is surely more than what you would pay in many coworking spaces around the world. So perhaps that would be a better deal for you. The simple message here is that you should watch out for the price especially if you intend to be a regular in a place
You might think “Oh, I don’t really care about privacy because I am doing nothing wrong on my laptop”. But let us be honest here, nobody likes the feeling of being so close to another person that the person can literally see everything you are doing on your laptop. Also, if you need to make a phone call, it won’t be very comfortable. Thus, I would suggest you look for places where the tables are reasonable far apart and places that are not super jammed. One alternative here is to also use a laptop privacy screen protector (*the one I recommend is this one)
1.4. Putting all this advice together
In an ideal scenario, you would have done some research about the place before going there. So once you get there you would simply be checking if things are all in order.
So if you did this research the uniqueness factor should be already dealt with, since you know it is an independent place.
Say you come to the coffee shop, the first thing I would simply verify is the temperature, vibe, light, noise, and busyness.
If all of those things are alright, I would pull out my phone and open the internetspeed.net tool to see the internet speed.
If the internet speed is fine, around 15mbps, then I would go straight to the sitting area, not to the counter. In the sitting area, I would see if there are energy plugs available to an empty seat. Then I would check how comfortable the chair is and the ergonomics of the table in relation to the chair. Also, I would check if there is a reasonable space between the tables in order for me to have some privacy. Finally, I would check if there is a toile available next to the sitting area.
If all of those things are good, I would then go to the counter. At the counter, I would first ask for the working hours of the place. Then I would simply ask “can I work here for a while?”. This question seems silly, but by asking that you are prompting the staff to tell you if there is any funny policy in the place (e.g. limit hours to stay there for customers). Finally, I would have a look at how the food looks and their prices. Of course, you can never be sure about the food/drinks but you can have a pretty good idea by the looks of it and if you check Google maps for reviews.
Just then, if all of those things are fine, I would commit myself to stay to work by buying something.
It may sound like a lot of steps but remember you just need to do this once (or at most a couple of times) in each new base you are staying. Once you find a good place you should go there repeatedly to work.
Sure, sometimes it is hard to find all these factors in a place. But at the very least the place should be alright in most of those things that we just talked about.
Once I find a place I truly like, I tend to use that place regularly since it takes some effort to find good places and I do not want to waste the time I spent to find such a place. Besides that, if I were you I would try to befriend the staff if you intend to be a regular there for two reasons. First, it is kind of weird if you constantly go to a place day in and day out but you treat the staff of the place like people you have never seen before. Second, you are in the perfect natural scenario where you can befriend a local to hang out with you as well as give you free perks from the place if you are lucky. It doesn’t take much to befriend the staff. Most people are very straight to the point when dealing with them, thus if you do just a little bit extra (like asking how are they, making one or two observations/jokes, giving a tip sometimes) you can go a long way. By the way, if you are interested in the topic of befriending people on the road as a digital nomad you should check out episodes 19, 20, 21.
Jack: So hello guys today we're gonna be talking about how to find a good coffee shop to work.
Jack: And we think this is a very important topic for you because you are surely going to a coffee shop to work at some point.
Jack: So our podcasts have received a lot of listening over time and this is very good for us however none enough of you are leaving a review so I'm here asking you if you can and if you think our podcast is good please leave a review are listening platform I hope you find this episode interesting.
Mr. B: Hey hello welcome to the nomad tactics podcast here provide a complete how to guide for digital nomads.
Mr. B: I am your host B. and I'm joined by the co-host Jack today we gonna talk about how to find a good coffee shop to work from as a digital nomad.
Mr. B: I will start with a quick summary first me and Jack gonna lay out exactly what is the name of today's episode after that we gonna contextualize the topic within our digital nomad life system following that we gonna talk about when and how this advice is relevant to you as a digital nomad and finally we gonna present the list of the main factors to consider when you're choosing a coffee shop to work from I hope you enjoyed the episode.
Jack: So hello Mister B.
Mr. B: Hello Jack.
Jack: So today we are going to talk about how to assess whether a coffee shop is good to work or not.
Mr. B: Yeah that's right so we will go over a number of factors to consider when you are assessing coffee shops to see if it's a suitable place to work or not I would like to point out that this episode goes hand in hand with our previous episodes where we just talked about how to find fast wifi as a digital nomad so one episode kind of compliment the other in one sense.
Jack: I see so as usual, we should probably put this topic into our digital Norman life system and for people who don't know what the digital nomad life system it is a six-step system that aims to help people going from a non-digital normal life into a optimized your normal life so Mr B willing to put this topic into which type of the system.
Mr. B: So the topic today fits the four-step of our system in the fourth step is caller the arriving process for those of you that are not familiar with the arriving proces step it can be basically understood as all the things that a digital nomad should do once he arrives in his new base i.e. the city in which he will be staying for while in order to make sure he will be properly settled in and more generally that he going to have a smooth stay the reason why this topic fits into the arrival process is because we advocate that digital nomads should find a place to work as soon as they get to their new bases the reason for that is because it's very beneficial to set a routine as soon as possible so if you combine that with the fact that many digital nomads like to work from coffee shops that it seems like assessing how good a coffee shop is for working becomes a very relevant topic to be placed in this step of our system.
Jack: Yes Mister B. since today we're gonna talk about how to assess a place when and how this advice is relevant?
Mr. B: So yeah in order to answer that I think I will need to refer back to last week episode where we talked about how to find fast internet as a digital nomad so in that episode, I presented a number of possible places and ways you could find fast internet while traveling.
Mr. B: Among those were coworking space tether internet from a local sim card public wifi among other options all of those that I just mentioned are great options to find fast internet in particular an option that is very popular among digital nomads is to work from a so called public wifi say from a coffee shop notice that in the last episode I broke down public wifi into what I called well researched public wifi and random public wifi aI said that well research public wifi should be preferred if you're looking for fast internet to work from and you might be asking what exactly do I mean by well research public wifi and I simply mean the type of wifi where you did some sort of research beforehand thus such wifi has a high likelihood of providing you with fast internet this can be wife from coffee shops hotel lobbies or even street wifi it doesn't really matter but for the sake of today's episode we are only interested in coffee shops I contrasted these well research public wifi's with what I called random public wifi and by random public wifi I simply means the wifi from the coffee shop around the corner in other words the wifi from a place you have no idea since you did no prior research it's kind of random sometimes it's might be a fast wifi sometimes might be a very slow wifi or even no wifi at all now you might be asking yourself how can you research public wifi there are a number of different ways to do so one way is to simply ask in local digital nomad Facebook groups for recommendations of coffee shops another way is to use the crowdsourcing service to locate wifi called wifi map dot i0 another way is to check the very famous website nomadlist dot com and see their recommended coffee shop and finally one last but none the less very useful way to find public wifi and more specifically coffee shops is by using the service called work from dot co that you can use either in your browser or as an app in your phone the good thing about well researched public wifi is especially when we are talking about coffee shops is that sometimes you can get something very similar to a coworking space but for free so this is all well and good as far as wifi goes but as I said in the previous episode if you want to find a truly good place to work in this case the coffee shop you gonna need to consider other things beside the wifi in other words wifi is one part of the the equation or some people could argue perhaps the main part but there are other relevant factors you also should watch out for these are things like the opening hours of the coffee shop if the coffee shop offers you energy sockets to charge your laptop or not among other things that we will talk about in today's episode to be more specific we aim to present all the relevant factors to consider in a coffee shop note that this considerations apply for both coffee shops that you research beforehand I E. what I have called in the last episode well research public wifi as well as random coffee shops i.e. what I have called the in the previous episode random public wifi the only difference is that in the case of well researched coffee shops it is simply a matter of once you get there you're going to check if your research matches reality and yes I am advocating that you should always double check the information once you get to the place on the other hand if it's simply a random coffee shop it's a matter of checking all of these factors for the first time once you get there, therefore, your degree of success in terms of finding a good coffee shop of course going to be lower because you have no background research on that.
Mr. B: Also one important thing to be said here is that all of these factors and all of these considerations that I'm about to present only makes sense if you intend to stay in a reasonable amount of time working in a place or ideally if you intend to become a regular at that place for example to work for a month while you staying a base and the reason for that is because to check all of those things going to take some time so if you only intending to stay at let's say one or two hours to do some quick work I wouldn't worry very much about any of the things that I'm about to say this is truly when you want to find a good place to work and keep going there for the entirety of your stay finally it's important to note is that you should check all of these factors that I'm about to present before what I call commits to a coffee shop what I mean by committing to a coffee shop is buying something to eat or drink in order to be quote unquote allow to work from that place if you commit to a coffee shop before checking all of those things you might be in a situation where you let's say you just bought a coffee and a sandwich and the place going to close in two hours because you didn't check the opening hours of the coffee shop thus you're gonna need to find a new place to work from and consequently gonna need to spend more money in the new coffee shop even more importantly you're gonna be spending your valuable time in which you could be working.
Jack: Yeah Mr. B speaking would you say is right the following this advice can help you save money and save your time so now that's going to what to look for when choosing a coffee shop as a working location the first thing you wrote here is internet.
Mr. B: Once again this goes back to our previous episodes and there should be no surprise that the first factor when you're accessing a coffee shop as a working location is the Internet speed so basically what you need to do here is to check the internet speed up the coffee shop using a tool like speed test dot net for most digital nomads that do let's say the written based or photo based work or more generally anyone that is not working with video the recommended download speeds that you want a coffee shop to have are between ten and twenty mbps anyway if you're interested in this topic of finding fast internet as a digital element I would highly recommend you to watch our previous episode episode thirty-three where we talk exclusively about this topic.
Jack: Yeah internet is probably the most important thing when comes to remote working so the second thing you wrote here is energy sockets.
Mr. B: Yes another very important thing to look out for is if there are energy sockets available in the coffee shop in order for you to be able to charge your laptop or your phone they should be really a no brainer if you intend to have a long day of work in a coffee shop so not only should you look around the coffee shop to see if they are energy sockets available at all more importantly you need to check if the tables next to the energy sockets are free or not otherwise you won't be able to access those by the way something that you should never forget to bring with you as a digital nomad is a universal adapter because the energy plugs may changed around the words so in order to charge your laptop or your phone you gonna need to carry one of those adapters with you the one I recommend it's listed in the show notes the only exception to this rule in terms of looking for energy sockets is if let's say you have a full charging your laptop or you intend to stay only for a few hours therefore if that's the case of course it won't be necessary in the first place.
Jack: I think we can all related to when you bring a laptop that you found there's no socket in the coffee shop so you got to go back to a place so the next thing you wrote here is opening hours
Mr. B: Once again this happened to us a few times I think like we go to a coffee shop we look around we think it looks great we check the internet speed and it's quite fast and then once we commit to the place let's say we bought a coffee we find out that the place closes in forty-five minutes and that is why it's categorical for you to always check the opening hours since this opening hours to change quite dramatically from coffee shop the coffee shop and you want to find a place that suits your needs in terms of working hours if you're looking for places to work in the late hours or even if you're looking for a twenty-four hours place to work than probably your best bet will be coffee shop chains even though we do not generally recommend digital nomads to go to coffee shop chains for reasons that we will present later on in such case I think it's a good idea.
Jack: I was kicked off from a coffee shop in Greece you don't want to see what happened so next thing you wrote here is lighting.
Mr. B: Yes so the lighting it's an essential thing to watch out for a number of reasons more specifically my advice here would be to always choose coffee shops that are well lit preferably with sunlight the two main reasons why I think lighting is important are the following first a well-lit place won't force your eyes independently if you are working with paper or more probably in your laptop a well-lit environment is always healthier to your eyes and that's something you really wanna take care a long term the second reason why I think it's important to care about the light is because by having a well-lit place you wanna avoid that all too familiar feeling of sleepiness that we all have when we start working for too long so I think as I said having a well lit place can help you with that not gonna make you sleepy.
Jack: Yeah lighting is very important for working so the next thing you wrote here is sitting ergonomics and comforts.
Mr. B: So if you're planning to stay working long hours in a coffee shop the ergonomics and the comfort of the seating more specifically the chair and the table matters a lot this basically breaks down into the chair being comfortable and the ergonomics of the chair in relation to the table being suitable for you this is usually understood in terms of how low or high chair is in relation to the table I mean you might not mind staying in a funny position for it let's say thirty minutes but if you want to work let's say for five hours the position of the table in relation to the chair really gonna start to matter and if you start to feel uncomfortable you probably won't be as productive in your work.
Jack: True like nobody wants a bad back in their fifties so the next thing you wrote here is noise and business.
Mr. B: So let us start with the noise. This is kind of an individual thing but it seems to me for most people the noise levels are crucial because places there are too noisy are hard to work from since you won't be really able to concentrate thus you should always prefer places without very loud music and or are too much chattering on the background one workaround solution here would be to bring with you a noise canceling headphones if you have one of those available now let's talk about busyness busyness is an important factor because similar to noise a place that has to be easy is hard to work from since you will not be able to concentrate well in a place where there are people always coming and going around you there is also another reason why business is important if a place is to be easy it is unlikely that there are many people simutenuously connected to the internet connection which means that unless the internet network has a very high bandwidth most likely you will have problems with your internet connection both in terms of its speed as well as stability thus you should always preferred to work from coffee shops that are not that busy.
Jack: Yeah of course nobody likes a busy place so the next thing you wrote here is temperature.
Mr. B: This is the kind of thing that you might not mind if you stay let's say thirty minutes working in a coffee shop.
Mr. B: For instance let's say you are outside then you come in the coffee shop and the AC is really strong.
Mr. B: Perhaps you enjoy when you just came in right because outsides probably extremely hot but trust me after one or two hours the temperature will really be an issue independently of the place being too hot or too cold which seems to be the most common scenario uncomfortable temperatures we will hinder your ability to work effectively therefore my advice here is to always look for a place with somewhat comfortable cool temperature.
Jack: Yeah sure you don't wanna work in sweats so the next thing we'll hear is coffee shops' policy.
Mr. B: So this is not an issue in the majority of coffee shops but it is in some so you should always figure out if there is any coffee shop policy and you might be asking yourself what do I mean by coffee shop policy and I simply mean like if there are any minimum spending you need to have or if there is a maximum amount of hours that you can stay sitting there to work or even if the coffee shop can only be used by certain people say hotel guess or employees so figuring out this coffee shop policy is quite important to avoid any unexpected surprise after a while sitting there.
Jack: Yeah once I was trying to get into a hotel coffee shop and was kicked out because it's only for guests so the next thing you wrote here is vibe.
Mr. B: So this is perhaps the most subjective factor in our list yet it seems to me drastically important factor the first difficult thing about this factor is that it is very hard to define the term vibe the way I think about it is like the overall feeling and place the coffee shop gives you this could perhaps be broken down into smaller factors like the lights the music the type of people that go there among other things but that's not the point here I'm not trying to define the term vibe in a very specific manner since I think most people intuitively understand what I meant my advice here is to commit to a coffee shop where you feel that have a good vibe or at least a neutral vibe in my experience if the coffee shop you intend to work does not have a good vibe you will be much less productive in your work.
Jack: Yeah I know some digital nomads really dig to the atmosphere of certain coffee shops so the next thing you wrote here is toilet.
Mr. B: So if you intend to work long hours in the place inevitably at some point you will need to go to the toilet therefore I think it's always smart to pick a coffee shop that offers you a toilet sure you could go out of the coffee shop find the toilet elsewhere and then come back but there are some drawbacks for doing that.
Mr. B: You spend some time trying to find a toilet outside and that might take a while in some cities also when you come back you might have lost your seat next to the energy socket.
Mr. B: Or even worse when you come back the staff from the coffee shop might not recognize you and ask you to buy something in order to stay there working.
Mr. B: So in order to avoid all those things the best thing is to find a coffee shop that already has a toilet there.
Jack: From the next item it is more optional so the thing you wrote here is uniqueness.
Mr. B: This is a bit of an optional consideration as you said but none the less important in my opinion so sometimes as digital nomads who you're so caught up in doing work that we forget that we are travelers after all so my advice here is to look for coffee shops to work from that are somewhat unique by doing so even though you're going to be working from the coffee shop you gonna be able to indirectly experience the city in which you're staying say by simply observing the people around you observing how they look how what's the vibe of the place the language people are speaking etc in practical terms this translates into leaving the chain coffee shops to be your last options in terms of working locations as your first option I would always try to go to local independent coffee shops they really provide you something unique.
Jack: Yeah I think visiting different coffee shop is one of the fun thing when travel so the next thing you wrote here is the quality and price of the food or drinks.
Mr. B: So in most coffee shops you will need to buy something in order to quote unquote be allowed to work from that place that's what I called committing to a place you might think that the quality and the price of the food and drinks are kind of irrelevant here since you are going there primarily to work yes I think that's not very smart specially if we assume that once you find a good coffee shop to work from you gonna be going back there quite regularly during your stay in the city so let's start by talking about the quality of the foods and drinks my point here is very simple I think that if you are going there day in and day out it simply doesn't make sense to you know go to a place that has bad food or bad drinks who wants to repeatedly eat something bad it doesn't make sense now let's talk about perhaps the more important factor which is price the reason why price is so important is because price varies quite drastically from coffee shop to coffee shop thus if you end up paying too much for the foods or drinks in a coffee shop that you want to work from it might not be well worth it for instance imagine that you found the coffee shop the coffee costs five dollars and this is a very possible price for independent coffee shops in the major cities around the globe now let's say that you take two coffees a day since you work long hours there that's a total of ten USD a day which in a month would be two hundred USD if you are working there say five times a week my point here is that two hundred USD you surely more than what you would pay in many coworking spaces around the war so perhaps if you're paying that much a coworking space could be a better deal the simple message here is that you should watch out for the price if you intend to go to a coffee shop regularly to work.
Jack: So the last item you wrote here is privacy.
Mr. B: You might be thinking yourself I don't really care about privacy because I'm doing nothing wrong in my laptop but let's be honest nobody truly likes the feeling of the tables in a coffee shop being so close to one another the person next to you can literally read everything in your laptop screen also if you want to make a phone call it won't be very comfortable if there's someone literally like a few centimeters from you this I would suggest you to look for coffee shops that the tables are reasonably far apart from each other one alternative here is to use a so called privacy screen protector which is a piece of plastic that you put in front of her laptop screen they're gonna prevent other people from reading the things in your laptop if they're sitting in the table next to yours the privacy screen protector for Max that I recommend I will list in the show notes.
Jack: Yeah I guess nobody likes to be watch when they are seeing some cute cat videos online so Mr B. you have talked about a lot of items about how to find a good coffee shop today so how would you put all these items together and actually find one.
Mr. B: Yeah I think that's a great idea to clarify things for the listeners so let's think about the ideal case scenario and the ideal case scenario would be one in which you have done some research beforehand about the coffee shop say you went to the local digital moment Facebook group and you ask for recommendations of coffee shops to work from and they recommended you a cool independent local coffee shop so if that's the case the factor of uniqueness was already dealt with since you found a unique coffee shop that gonna somewhat resembles the place in which you are staying once that is done you gonna go to the coffee shop of course to verify the other factor so say you arrive at the coffee shop the first thing I would do is to simply verify the temperature the vibe the noise level and a business level if all of those things are all right I would pull out my phone and the open the speed test dot net tool in order to check the internet speed if the internet speed is fine say a fifteen mbps in terms of download speed then I would go straight to the sitting area not to the counter in the sitting area I would check if they are energy sockets available next to an empty table then I would check how comfortable the chair is and the ergonomics of the table in relation to the chair also I would check if there is a reasonable space between tables in order for me to have some privacy while I'm working I would check if there are toilets available next to the sitting area if all of those things are good I would then go to the counter in the counter I would start by asking the working hours of the place then I would simply ask can I work here for a while this question might sound a little bit silly I know but by asking that you're prompting the staff to tell you.
Mr. B: If there is any funny policy in the coffee shop for example a maximum amount of time each customers can stay there minimum spending among other things finally I would have a look at the how the food looks and their prices of course you can never be sure about the quality of the food and drinks but you can have a pretty good guess by simply looking at it or alternatively you could pull out your phone once again and have a quick search on Google maps to look at the reviews just after I have checked all of those things I would commit myself to stay in that coffee shop to work by buying something to eat or drink I know that this sounds like a lot of steps to do just to find a good coffee shop to work from but remember that you just going to need to do these once or at most a couple of times in each of the bases you stay at once you find a good coffee shop to work from you should preferably go there repeatedly to work because you already know is a great place sure sometimes to be hard to find a coffee shop that checks all these factors that we presented but at the very least you should find a coffee shop that fit most of the criteria besides that once I have found this good coffee shop in which I intend to go regularly to work from.
Mr. B: Another thing I would do is to try to befriend with the staff there are two reasons why I think it's smart to be friendly stuff first is that I think is kind of weird if you're like regularly going to place day in and day out and you're not really friend if this stuff but they see you everyday.
Mr. B: And secondly and perhaps more importantly is because if you are a regular in the place this is the natural scenario where are you gonna be able to befriend the local i.e. staff of the coffee shop and by befriending a local you're going to be able to hang out with them and even if you're lucky you get some free stuff in the coffee shop so it doesn't take much effort to befriend stuff most people are very straight for them when they're talking to the stop in the coffee shop thus if you just do a little bit extra say asking how are they making one or two observations or jokes or giving some tips sometimes that can go a long way away if you're interested in the topic of befriending people on the road as a digital nomad including locals you should check out episode nineteen twenty and twenty one where we covered this issue extensively.
Jack: Yes so this is the end of episode and you feel like what you hear please make sure to leave a review on the listening platform this is Jack and thanks for listening.
Mr. B: Thank you very much.
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- Episode 02 (Digital Nomad Life System)
- *Universal adaptor
- *Laptop privacy screen protector