On Sitting at a Coffee Shop.

Some coffee shop owners aren't very happy about the droves of people who use their establishments mainly to do work and only occasionally drink coffee:

Hers is one of a growing number of coffee bars that have opened recently around the country, particularly in New York. Instead of idling at a chair, customers at these establishments stand or perch on a stool to down a cappuccino or an iced coffee at the counter. By doing away with the comfy seats, roomy tables and working outlets that many customers now seem to believe are included in the price of a macchiato, the new coffee bars challenge the archetypal American cafe.

As someone who frequently exchanges money for coffee and space to use my laptop, I think it's pretty much the case that coffee shop owners don't consider their facilities a product in the same way they consider their coffee a product. Most coffee shops wouldn't give you a free refill on a cup of coffee, but they will allow unlimited use of their bandwidth for as long as you please. At present, I can walk into nearly any coffee shop, purchase a single cup of drip coffee, and then use the chairs, tables, power outlets, and wifi indefinitely. On rare occasions, the bathrooms are reserved for customers. Smart owners would tie wifi use to high-dollar purchases -- you can only use the internet if you've spent at least X dollars -- and implement a data cap, so that you are forced to re-up with coffee or something else at set intervals.

Americans love their coffee houses and will continue to use them as non-work places to get work done. Instead of finding ways to keep customers from lingering, they should actually price their leisure space and use that lingering to their financial advantage.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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