Of Code and Coffee

Random Musings
August 15, 2014

When working, there are few things that beat drinking lattes and being surrounded by other programmers – and what better place to find these things but the comfortably cliched coffee shop? For Day 12 of my 60 Days of Webdev challenge, I spent my day at Red Rock Cafe in downtown Mountain View working on a website for a small restaurant in my parent’s town of Belhaven, North Carolina. If you haven’t been there and had dinner at Spoon River, I promise you – you’re missing out.

Likely the last trip with my Ultrabook

What is it about coffee shops that make for an excellent programming atmosphere? It’s a combination of the caffeine, the ability to sit in one place undisturbed, and wireless internet that is surprisingly stable. It’s the (perhaps unhealthy) ability to work straight through lunch, subsisting on high-fat lattes that provide a punch of energy and mental focus. It’s being surrounded by like-minded individuals holding meetings, working quietly, or just enjoying the presence of so many others being productive. 

“It’s a combination of the caffeine… being able to remove the distractions of home and appreciating the energy of large numbers of people.”

It’s being able to remove the distractions of home (It’s easy to pretend that the laundry doesn’t need doing and the dishes don’t need washing when they’re out of sight) and appreciating the energy of large numbers of people coming and going while remaining a quiet background fixture to the other coffee shop patrons. Time seems to stand still – and before you know it, you’ve been working for five hours. The background music that someone else picked out is just quiet enough to provide ambient noise that dulls the distracting conversations of the people around you, while loud enough to give off a personal touch when you recognize an artist from your own collections. 

The coffee shop is the epitome of an “office as a service” – Pay a small amount of money for a place to sit, a table to work on, drinks and snacks, an environment that is generally free from distractions, and an atmosphere that is charged with entrepreneurs working on their next big project. In the San Francisco Bay Area, places like Red Rock, Philz Coffee, and Coupa Cafe are breeding grounds for ideas, collaboration, and partnerships, catering to the 20- and 30-something crowd by providing them with caffeine and internet, as well as tables for different sized groups and a willingness to let people stay far past their due. 

“The coffee shop is the epitome of an “office as a service.” 

With my second latte finished and my laptop battery close to dead, this coffee shop trip comes to an end – but the benefits of five solid hours of productivity and a couple coffees will continue to push my daily progress forward even upon returning back to my apartment. 

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