Why is this important, you might ask? People who operate their business out of a studio or home office tend to insulate themselves, often without intending to. Staying out of the world too long dries up your inspiration and stales your interpersonal skills. It is vital to combat this by scheduling days where you can work outside of your usual space. Think of it as shaking things up a bit. You are extricating yourself out of your routine-your comfort zone, and opening yourself up to new experiences and new people.
I am a big fan of “coffee shop workdays”, and have found good things come from these experiences. I tend to be more productive away from at-home distractions. I have met key people who have been added to my network. And new opportunities have come about because of these café excursions.
I am such a fan that some of my entrepreneurial friends and I started Women’s Workday Wednesdays a few years ago. Once a month those of us who could make it would meet at a designated café, set up shop (a lap top, books, journals and writing utensils) and get cracking. By bouncing ideas off of each other and enjoying the energy flowing around our table, we all came away satisfied with that day’s work.
Here are a few cafes I recently checked out as potential “coffee shop workday” spots. All of these will soon be a lot quieter-at least until September. So take advantage of the space and the stillness and get to work!
Though it has several locations, I visited the one right off of the Boston University campus. This café offers ample electrical outlets (not always the case) and a full menu Mon-Fri for breakfast and lunch. A limited, yet yummy menu is offered anytime. I ordered a cookie, which was fresh baked goodness and quite delicious. There is substantial seating, though a portion of this is elevated “bar” seating. The main issue was the coffee. The espresso was over-extracted and bitter; the iced coffee rather flavorless. So yes, the space was designed with long-time sitters in mind and it is more than suitable for studying. But the coffee and the barista skills are lacking. Plan to be allowed to stay for quite a while without getting any glares, but order something other than coffee to drink.
This one is worth a mention not for the space but for the coffee. I had paid an hour at the parking meter before walking in and realizing the place has virtually no seating. It has been designed for drop-in visits only, which is too bad because the expansive space could have easily been used in a more efficient way to allow patrons to have a seat. There is a bench that runs along the front windows. You are welcome to perch there for a moment but it was obvious the staff-though friendly-had no interest in you sticking around. I noticed because of the lack of seating potential customers would walk in and immediately walk back out, making this place a quick stop primarily for locals or passerby heading to or from Coolidge Corner. There is no Wi-Fi.
As I said, the place is worth noting for the coffee. Coffee drinks are made with a tremendous amount of care which makes them delicious. Even the iced coffee was fantastic. The menu includes a small selection of baked goods. I ordered a cake donut but found it a bit bland despite the icing, so save your calories for elsewhere.
There are plenty of sit down cafes in the immediate area, including three Starbucks all along Harvard Avenue. But if you happen by 4A Coffee one day, they are worth the visit for a caffeinated pick-me-up.
This one-location-but –wonderfully- branded gem in Brighton wins for best work space. Ample, semi-private seating with plenty of electrical outlets allows for intimate conversation and study. The coffee is more than drinkable (though not terrific) and there is a substantial, affordable breakfast and lunch menu, which means that you can stay a while. The espresso was again over-extracted, though not as dismal as Blue State. Nice, upbeat but unimposing music pulsed in the background to keep you energized. The noise level permitted concentration. And here’s a bonus: there is a small parking lot adjacent to the cafe!
I ordered a basil orange lime drink. It hit the spot once I was coffee-d out. It wasn’t sweet, but it was very refreshing and would make a great summer drink. While I had to pay for meter parking everywhere else the street parking here was free. There were two clean, spacious bathrooms. Overall a great space.