Category Archives: Coffee Shops

Coffee Shop Etiquette: Vespr Coffeebar’s “Sit & Sip” Policy

Coffee shops have worked hard to become that “third place” — that place where you go when you’re not at work and not at home. And there’s nothing better than walking into your favorite indie coffee shop and finding an empty seat. Better yet, a seat at your favorite table. Right under the vent, near an electrical outlet, the perfect distance from the speakers.

And so you plan on staying for several hours, enjoying your favorite spot, getting some work or studying done, visiting friends, and basking in the glory of having the best seat all to yourself.

Except Emily Post and coffee shop etiquette tell us that this is simply not done. There are rules — well, unwritten rough guidelines — that tell us how long you can stay at that table.

Meaning you can’t just buy a $2 cup of coffee and camp there for the next eight hours. That loses a lot of money for the coffee shop owner.

That is, if the owner could get two people sitting at that table every hour, and each of them spent $5, that’s worth $120 in a 12-hour day. Even if one person sat there and spent $5 per hour, that’s still $60. But if you sit there for 8 hours at $2, they only made $.25 per hour on that same table.

Do you see the problem?

It’s not that the owner doesn’t want you there. It’s that they have a business to run, which they can’t do on $.25 per hour. And it’s unfair if you’re taking up a seat or even a whole table, and someone else who’s going to come in and spend $5 – $10 can’t because they can’t find a place to sit.

Vespr 02 - Edd SiuEdd Siu, owner of Vespr Coffeebar in Orlando, Florida, has created a “sit and sip” policy where people who hang out at the shop should buy something. Even if it is a $2 coffee, or a $5 latte, or an avocado toast. If you want to take up space, you need to buy something.

Additionally, coffee shop etiquette says we should buy something every so often as a way to “renew” our table.

But how often should you make another purchase?

“I’ve heard every 45 minutes, every hour, every two hours,” said Siu. “It depends on the person and it’s up to them to judge for themselves and what they can afford to do.”

Your spending habits are a judgment call about your own circumstances and your finances. Don’t overspend if you can’t afford it, but don’t overstay your welcome either. If you see that the place is slammed, and you’re still nursing a cold cup of tea three hours later, come back again tomorrow.

At the very least, offer to split your table and make room for a stranger. Invite someone new to sit with you. That way the shop is making a little more money on your table, even if it’s not going to be from you at that moment.

But don’t feel bad if you can only spend $2 per visit, even if you come back every day for such a “small” amount.

“That still adds up and helps our bottom line,” said Siu. “Besides, they’re our regulars, and we love the people who come to us again. That’s a humble place for us to be in because it means they see us as a place to make their second home.”

So remember, as we get closer to #IndieCoffeeShopDay on April 19, support your local coffee shops, but remember to either buy something every 45 minutes to 2 hours and try to spend a few bucks each time. That helps ensure that your favorite coffee shop will be there in the years to come.

Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters – Citrus County, FL

Special article by a fellow Writers Of Central Florida Or Thereabouts writer, Diane Dobry.

Living in Citrus County, if I didn’t get my coffee from a diner or family restaurant, Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s would have been the most likely stops for anything besides a basic coffee to-go. Starbucks was not on the map, so finding anything like a latte, espresso or cold brew was not easy.

Cattle Dog Coffee 01.jpgDiscovering Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters there was like finding Shangri-La.

Not only was there a sophisticated selection of coffees and teas — more than 30 flavors of fresh roasted coffee, as well as cappuccino, espresso, loose leaf teas, and cold brew as well as custom flavors for decaf lovers — but they have a coffee roaster onsite and will roast coffee to customers’ specifications to bring home.

And unlike Starbucks, there is a creative menu of breakfast and brunch items, sandwiches, bakery items — including a small variety of bagels — as well as salads, burgers, and even lobster rolls and omelets with vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Review sites as well as their Facebook page show fans from around the country who have discovered this delightful high-end, gourmet eatery, that not only cares enough about coffee brewing to teach readers of their website on the process of roasting coffee beans and making coffee, they take the coffee shop model up several notches to also satisfy the cravings of foodies in Citrus with their truly unique menu.

Just a sample of breakfasts include steak and eggs, lobster omelets, braised pot roast breakfast flatbread, and a Twisted Monte Cristo that includes eggs, honey ham and strawberry habanero jam on 3 slices of Texas cut French toast. And of course they serve the millennial breakfast staple—avocado toast.

Cattle Dog Coffee 02.jpgThe owners are passionate about coffee, and food. They even will cater your breakfast event or prepare boxed lunches.

So if you’re heading out to the west coast of Florida to see the manatees, do some hiking, ride a horse trail, camp out in Withlacoochee State Forest, or bike along the 46-mile paved Withlacoochee State Trail, fuel your hunger and caffeine cravings at a top-of-the-line coffee house and eatery.

Orlando Indie Coffee Shops

I created a Google Map of independent coffee shops around Central Florida.

These are fairly easy to create for your own city. Find coffee shops in your local city, save them to a particular map and make sure you only find locally-owned or non-Big Chain Coffee shops. No gas stations, no restaurants that serve coffee. Cafes, coffee shops, and bistros are ideal. If a company owns more than one shop, that’s okay. We just don’t want large corporations that have thousands of shops around the world.

If you make your own map, let me know, and I’ll be happy to embed it here.

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Indy Indie Coffee Shops

Several years ago, I created a Google Map for Indianapolis Indie Coffee Shops. I even purchased the domain, I haven’t contributed to it in a couple of years, so if you know of any shops that have opened or closed, please let me know. Better yet, if you live in the Indianapolis area, and would like to become the editor of this map, let me know. I’d be happy to set you up with this.

These are fairly easy to create for your own city. Find coffee shops in your local city, save them to a particular map and make sure you only find locally-owned or non-Big Chain Coffee shops. No gas stations, no restaurants that serve coffee. Cafes, coffee shops, and bistros are ideal. If a company owns more than one shop, that’s okay. We just don’t want large corporations that have thousands of shops around the world.

If you make your own map, let me know, and I’ll be happy to embed it here.

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Coffee Shop Stories: Lulu’s Coffee and Bakehouse

As part of Indie Coffee Shop Day, we’re inviting independent coffee houses from around the country to send in their story and a little note about themselves. Our very first entry is Lulu’s Coffee and Bakehouse on the northwest side of Indianapolis.

My husband and I purchased Lulu’s Electric Cafe about 11 years ago. We had operated a deli and catering company for five years, and thought a coffee shop and bakery would partner well with it. We moved just a few blocks west a little over two years ago, renamed it Lulu’s Coffee and Bakehouse, and changed the menu up a bit.

We now have a comfortable, third place hang out with lots of food and beverage options. It is a beautiful, cozy, and welcoming facility. We were food specialists when we purchased Lulu’s initially, and the food menu grew. However, the coffee didn’t.

We have been researching and educating ourselves over the last several years to move into the third wave of coffee. The Indy Coffee Association, Coffee Fest, and Caffeine Crawl have all been great resources. We offer a full espresso bar with all the common drink choices, breakfast options, a full lunch menu, grandma’s pies, even tea parties for 2.

Some of our signature drinks include: a delicious Traditional Italian Cappuccino. It is 3oz of Espresso and 3oz of deliciously sweet steamed milk, our Iced Toddy Coffee, and our Loose Leaf Teas. You can now expect latte art on all hot drinks. This is incredibly important, because you can only produce art with quality steamed milk.

We are also, one of the only shops in town that offer multi midwest roasters. We buy beans from multiple roasters here in Indy, as well as, Louisville, Illinois, and Michigan. We currently offer these coffees in whole bean sales, and as a single extraction from an Aeropress. We will soon be offering up a Clever Dripper brew method as well. We will be rolling out our summer drinks in the next couple of weeks.

If you have any questions or need any more info just let us know. You can also check out and We are extremely active on Facebook.

Steve and Tiffany
Lulu’s Coffee +Bakehouse
2292 West 86th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46260

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Six Commandments for Indie Coffee Shop Customers

Independent coffee shops are a great place for entre-commuters — small business owners who work out of a briefcase wherever they can find free wifi — to get work done, conduct meetings, or just a place to sit and relax. However, many coffee shops are growing tired of the tech homeless because they take up space without ordering anything.

Here are the six commandments of coffee shops everywhere (not just the indies).

1. Buy something every 2 hours

That's my No Bullshit Social Media co-author, Jason Falls, at Hubbard & Cravens, 6229 Carrollton, Indianapolis, IN.

That’s my No Bullshit Social Media co-author, Jason Falls (left), at Hubbard & Cravens, 6229 Carrollton, Indianapolis, IN. Note the single person taking up the 4-top to his right.

Some coffee shops are limiting their wifi because people are taking up valuable space for several hours after only buying a $2 cup of coffee. THIS IS NOT YOUR MOM’S HOUSE! DON’T PARK THERE ALL DAY! Every hour that ticks by without you buying something eats into that business’ profitability. If they don’t make money, they can’t stay open.

You need to buy something every hour or two, and it needs to cost more than a couple dollars. Get a latte, get a muffin, get a sandwich. If you can’t afford it, then work from home or your local library. While a coffee shop is a nice home-away-from-home, it’s not your second home. Get up and give someone else a chance.

2. Better yet, limit your visit to half your battery life.

Other coffee shops, like Gorilla Coffee in Brooklyn, are covering up their outlets to reduce the number of people sucking up their electricity. Forgetting that it’s actually better for your laptop to run on battery power, rather than always being plugged in, keep in mind that it does cost the coffee shop money to power up our laptops all day long.

You can help save their electricity costs, as well as limit your time there, if you work without your power cable and then pack up and leave after you’ve gone through half your battery life.

3. Don’t turn rectangular tables into desks

Some coffee houses have rectangular 2-top tables, which often turn into solo seating for the tech squatters, which means these same coffee houses will sometimes fill up to exactly half their capacity. I’ve seen people walk into coffee shops and leave again because every table was taken by people working alone. Next time that happens, take a risk and invite someone to sit with you. Tell them you’d be happy to share the space with them, have a conversation for just a couple minutes, and then get back to work.

It’s worse when people turn these 2-top tables 90 degrees and make them their own personal desk space. Not only is it inconsiderate, it ruins the sense of community the coffee shop is hoping to create. These 2-top tables are ideally there for you and a friend to share a conversation. They’re not a desk for you to spread out all your textbooks or TPS reports. If you can’t limit your footprint to half the table, work at home or your local (or school) library.

4. Don’t take up a 4-top by yourself

A coffee shop is a restaurant, and they make money by squeezing in as many customers as they can, which means they want to maximize their table space. Just like some restaurants don’t like seating two people at a 4-top (a table with 4 chairs), coffee shops don’t like to have one person occupy an entire 4-top.

Understandably there are times where it can’t be helped. Maybe every 2-top is taken up, and the 4-top is the only one available, so go ahead and sit down. But be considerate and move when a 2-top frees up. Otherwise you may end up costing the coffee shop a 3- or 4-person order because those people didn’t feel like they had a place to sit.

5. Offer your table to someone who’s been waiting

When a coffee shop gets crowded, it’s usually a mad scramble to grab the next free table. The problem is, someone who’s been waiting for several minutes may get screwed out of a table by the guy who just showed up two minutes ago.

If the place is crowded and you’re leaving, catch the attention of the person who’s been waiting the longest and offer them your table. Don’t clear out until they’ve staked their claim.

6. Watch your neighbor’s stuff

At most coffee shops I visit, the veterans don’t need to ask someone to watch their stuff. We all do it for each other. We know not to let a stranger grab their computer or their purse. So I always smile a little when someone asks if I’ll watch their gear while they run to the bathroom.

Of course I will! That’s part of the indie coffee shop community; that’s just what we do. I may be a little spoiled, however, since we typically don’t have roving bands of hoodlums bursting into our shop and grabbing every unattended laptop they can find. Even so, keep an eye on your neighbor’s stuff, even if they don’t ask. It’s just a common courtesy.


What other expectations do you have for yourself in your favorite coffee shop? What coffee house sins do you silently judge others for? Share them in the comments.


Photo credit: Erik Deckers (used with permission)

Five Reasons to Support Your Indie Coffee Shop

It’s Indie Coffee Shop Day on Friday, April 18, 2014, and so we want to urge everyone to visit a local independent coffee shop on that day. It would be even better if you continued the tradition more frequently, checking out different indie shops in your city.

Here are five reasons to support your local indie coffee shop, regardless of the day.

1. They contribute to the local economy.

Caffé Bene 1611 Broadway New York, NY 10019

Caffé Bene 1611 Broadway New York, NY 10019

When you buy something at a national chain, like a big box store or mega-food franchise, only 13 cents of every dollar stays in your local economy. But when you spend money at your local small business, 40 cents of every dollar remains. If you want to boost your local economy, buy local whenever you can.

2. They’re artisans.

The baristas at your local coffeehouses learn how to properly create their coffee. They’re not just squeezing espresso syrups out of tubes or pressing a button on a dispensing machine. They learn how to properly grind the beans and pour the espresso. There’s a technique to it, and it takes some practice. I know some baristas who can tell if an espresso will taste bitter or not by how it pours.

3. They’re an ideal “third place.”

In his book, The Great Good Place Ray Oldenburg says that third places — a place that is not home and not work — are important for civil society, community, and civic engagement. A coffee shop makes an excellent third place. You can pop in for a quick pick-me-up before work, a calming beverage afterward, a quiet place to read, a place to have a meeting, or to get some work done. You can do all those things at home or work, but a coffee shop is a nice change of scenery.

4. They’re often family owned.

It’s a rare coffee house where the owner isn’t behind the counter, taking orders, making drinks, and cleaning up. There are a few, but even then, there’s a family member nearby, or the owner comes in every evening to tally up the total and make sure everything is ordered.

5. They’re often committed to the environment and fair trade.

The place where you’ll often see the biggest push for recycling and reducing, and buying fair trade and sustainable products, are independent coffee shops. They have recycling bins, they purchase recycled products, they make their grounds available for composters, and they ensure that their suppliers make a living wage. Corporate chain coffee does some of this too, but I see the local shops flogging environmental this and fair trade that like the world will end if you throw your paper cup in the trash.

Why do you visit your favorite local coffee shop? Leave a comment and let us hear from you.

Photo credit: Neo_II (Flickr, Creative Commons)

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Indie Coffee Shop Day to be Held Friday, April 18, 2014

(Indianapolis, Ind.)—It’s one of the small pleasures of life. Sitting in a coffee shop with your favorite beverage, meeting with friends, reading a book, or getting some work done. For many people, a regular coffee shop is their home-away-from-home, or office-away-from-office. Independent coffee shops are often more highly prized because their presence in a neighborhood is often an anchor and meeting place.

So Indianapolis entrepreneur Erik Deckers created Indie Coffee Shop Day as a way to celebrate independent coffeehouses, and to encourage more people to find a favorite indie shop.

“Independent coffee shops contribute a lot to the local community,” said Deckers. “They add a flavor to their neighborhood, serving as an anchor point for people to connect.”

Indie Coffee Shop Day will be observed on Friday, April 18, the day before Record Store Day. All anyone needs to do to observe it is to forgo their traditional “corporate coffee” and buy from a local independent coffee shop instead.

“It’s wonderful timing,” said Deckers. “Record Store Day celebrates independent record stores and the rich musical heritage of vinyl records. Indie Coffee Shop Day is about celebrating the rich heritage of coffee and the shops that support Fair Trade coffee, single origin coffee, as well as the local roasters who provide the beans for our local shops.”

There are economic benefits of buying local as well. For every dollar spent at a local, independent business, $.40 of that money stays in the community. But every dollar spent at a large chain whose headquarters are in another city, only $.13 stays in the local community.

“Entrepreneurs and small business owners who have business meetings in coffee shops should be meeting in the local shops, not corporate ones,” said Deckers. “If you depend on the local community for your business, you should also support the local community.”

Deckers says that even small chains can be called independent, as long as their shops are local.

“Two of my favorite coffee shops in Indianapolis and Louisville — Hubbard & Cravens and Heine Brothers — have more than one shop in their areas. But I would still call them independent, because their stores and their money stay in the community.”

For more information, or to contribute a story, visit

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