Why Writing in Coffee Shops Makes Me More Productive.

Coffee shop creativity

Tony Ollivier


I do my best writing in coffee shops. The combination of paying for a coffee and a light murmur makes for good writing.

But why is that? Hemingway famously drank, but only after he’d written. The Atlantic reports, Lee Child exists on 20 cups of coffee and a pack of cigarettes a day. Diana Gabaldon starts her day with a Mars Bar and a Diet Coke.

At home, I’m drawn into the siren calling of fiber optic internet. CNN, Facebook, Reddit, email (and now TikTok) are my mistresses. Did you know that Charlie Chaplin accepting an honorary Oscar in 1972 is streaming on YouTube? Neither did I and I wish I didn’t.

At home, I’m sucked into the unlimited bandwidth like Keanu Reeves after he took the red pill.

I have IAD — Internet Attention Disorder. The only way around IAD is to get my ass out of my house and into a coffee shop.

But why is that? The local library is free with work desks and is super quiet. I’ve got friends that would welcome me camping out at their place. But no. For me, it needs to be at a house of coffee. And apparently for other people too.

It doesn’t have to be just writing. Any kind of concentrated work; emails, assignments, strategic planning or working on a spreadsheet. Coffee shops have tables, desks, music playing and lots of food. Not full-on menus but copious amounts of chocolate, fat, sugar and carbs. All the major writer food groups.

Years ago in North America, coffee came with donuts or muffins, usually in places that considered plastic chairs jammed against linoleum covered tables comfortable. But times have changed.

I argue that the rise of laptops, smartphones and everywhere WiFi drove Starbucks to be the #1 coffee vendor in the world, with 30,000 locations. The stock performance tells all.

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Interesting drop around 2008. Pocket money for expensive coffee dried up along with my portfolio gains. But again I ask why? Why would I spend anywhere from $2.50 to $6.00 for a coffee? Even if it…