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How to Better Enjoy the Coffeehouse
14 tips on how to be the perfect coffee shop patrons.


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Show good manners the next time you're at your local coffee shop.


Weekdays and weekends are always good times to enjoy a steaming cup of coffee, a signature smoothie or glass of juice—especially when shared with the one you love. Even when you are flying solo at the coffee shop, keeping your coffee shop manners in check will assure you are welcome back.

1. WiFi is not free: If you are visiting a coffee shop so your wife can have her favorite pastry and coffee and your motive is to catch up on some work, make sure the pastry is not from your own kitchen and you are not there solely to use their free WiFi. At the very least, order a cup of coffee and pretend you are there to enjoy the coffee shop ambience. Setting up shop at a table and bringing your own breakfast pastry and coffee from home is rude. The coffee shop owner would appreciate your patronage, along with your wife and laptop computer.

2. Don't be a showoff: If you just purchased the latest technological gadget and saunter in the coffee shop hoping to see your neighbors and friends, don't forget to turn it on before you start banging on the keys or talking on the smartphone. Your wife would be humiliated to learn that you were trying to one-up your neighbor and got caught in the act. And by the way, don't try and borrow your son's iPod if you don't know where the ear buds go. Not cool dad, not cool.

3. Control your new yorkie-poo-shitz-weenie terrier hybrid: While a cute pup is considered man's best friend, if your wife sends you off on a doggie walk and you end up at the coffee shop, your doggie will not be so welcome if he attempts to take a bite out of a fellow coffee goers lemon bar. The park may be a better option for you.

4. "How you bean" and "see you latte" are not funny expressions: No matter how friendly the coffee shop people may seem, you should know by now they have heard every corny play on words that has anything to do with a coffee bean. If your wife happens to be unfortunate enough to be standing next to you when you say these silly things, expect her to roll her eyes or nudge you with her elbow. Take the not-so-subtle hint and greet the coffee house attendant with a cheery, "Hello."

5. Talk business on your cell phone after you have ordered your latte: The people behind you, waiting for their morning "pick me up" need to get to work and want their coffee before lunch. Be respectful of other customers.

6. Check your coffee order before you walk away: There may be more than one "Jim" in the room. If the coffee shop is busy, consider giving your middle name unless it is as common as "Jim" or try "Jimmy G," anything that distinguishes you from the rest of the Dave's, Diane's and Debbie's.

7. Don't get hung up on the name: Just because it's called a "coffee shop" doesn't mean there are not other options for those who are not coffee drinkers. You are likely to find smoothies for the kids, juice for your wife, bagels and cream cheese for yourself and pastry for the neighbor you are trying to one up, I mean impress.

8. Your kids are welcome until they start tearing the place down: Don't be "that family" that let's their kids go wild while others are trying to relax or work in peace and quiet. If your child starts getting fussy, enjoy a cup of coffee "to go" and come back another time when he or she is rested and can enjoy the visit with you and the other customers.

9. Magazines and newspapers are not free unless clearly stated: Even though you routinely help yourself to the magazines at the doctor’s office, sticking the latest sports magazine in your pants and sauntering out the door may be a little more obvious in front of the barista and his team.

10. Clean off your pastry crumbs, coffee drips and dirty paper and plastic products before leaving the table: Although you may have taught this lesson to your children at home, make sure that you and your wife leave the table area as clean as possible. Perhaps cleaner than when you sat down. The next customer will appreciate your efforts, even if a coffee shop attendant is available to clean the table, it is courtesy that will be noticed and remembered.

11. Leave your laptop (and your table) unattended at your own risk: I'm not sure what the answer is here, asking a stranger to keep an eye on your expensive computer with all of your personal information in it, including your calendar, financial and bank records along with the passwords, is not the greatest alternative but when you've got to "go", you've got to "go".

12. Don't forget to use the tip jar: For friendly and attentive service, there is no better way to thank the person who just smiled at you and called you by name—especially if you just greeted them with some silly play on words. Note to coffee shop owners, know your customers because people do business with people they like and everyone likes to be called by their name.

13. Don't be a table squatter. If you notice that the coffee shop is extremely busy and you have been at the table for a while, unless you are ordering enough coffee and food to warrant an extended seat, consider packing up your mobile office and hit the road. I am sure there is another coffee shop with good magazines and free WiFi around the corner.

14. Support your neighborhood coffee shop, not just the large chains. Consider a romantic morning stroll to your local coffee spot rather than a drive to the national chain. When you get there, put down the paper, close your laptop and spend time getting reacquainted with your spouse. Use this quiet time to make plans for summer fun and follow through with your plans. Walking together to the coffee shop, rather than jumping in the car and hitting the local drive thru, is the perfect start.

Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com.


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