In almost any coffee shop you set foot into, you see someone crammed behind a laptop or stack of papers getting some work done. Why are people choosing to work in cafés these days? Is it just the hip thing to do?
Fact is that technology has made the current working generation a lot more mobile. As most jobs don't require much more than a plug and a wifi connection, a café beats your average cubicle and watery office coffee any day.
Perhaps Starbucks first started this whole trend. The founder, Howard Schulz, originally intended to emulate the sense of community he felt while visiting Italian cafés on a European holiday. However, nowadays Starbucks has morphed more into an extension of the workplace. Some of its newer franchises even offer conference rooms!
However, there is also evidence out there that the background hum of a coffee shop can boost creativity. Maybe it’s the chatter, the grinding of the beans and your standard indie playlist which help entrepreneurs conjure up their next big idea. Trying to capitalize on these findings, a company called Coffitivity has even started selling playlists of typical café background noises. Morning Murmur, University Undertones and Paris Paradise are just a few of their tracks.
The relationship between coffee shops and creativity has been brewing for quite a while. In fact, at the time of their inception, back in 17th and 18th century, the London coffeehouses became popular alternatives to alehouses and were home to sober, invigorating conversations about novel ideas, culture or the day's news. Certain historians even credit these café gatherings and conversations with propelling Europe into the Enlightenment.
The big difference between those old-time coffeehouses and those of the now: as opposed to hearing and discussing the latest gossip or event from your right-hand neighbor you often absorb it from the screen in front of you. Luckily, several coffee places have taken a stand with designated "laptop free zones", and have managed to preserve some room for offline conversations.
Nina Schröder, master student Health Food Innovation Management