How long should I stay?

Quite a number of years ago, before I was a passionate coffee drinker, I read this article in the New York Times: “How Long is it Okay to Linger in a Cafe or Restaurant?”

The question and commentary stuck with me for some time, and obviously still resonates with me.

Two years ago I really started making the local coffee shop my work space and personal space. I started drinking coffee to relax my mind and take a break from life. I started taking online classes and made the coffee shop my place to study, write, and learn. Throughout this development, I monitored my time, not out of this article’s inspiration per se, but out of a genuine feeling that a couple of hours was enough time for me.

Recently, as I have started researching and doing more business in coffee shops, I have still paid attention to the length of my stay, but now out of appreciation–I want to make sure that I am a fair and polite customer.

In this pursuit, I wanted to determine what exactly “fair” and “polite” looked like–especially given that I started to take note of others’ behavior.

“7 Rules for Coffee Shop Etiquette” and “How to Work on Your Laptop Without Being a Jerk” summed it well.

Basically, I have followed a standard that is appropriate and amenable. I have been on the right track, my instincts were on point.

How long should I stay?

  • Well, as long as I purchased something reflective of my time there–one hour means less spending expected, four hours means more purchasing expected–I am good.

How long should I stay?

  • Well, if I ‘ve been parked in my seat for some time and it’s empty, I am welcome to keep sipping my cup or sitting next to my empty cup for a little bit longer. If my seat is needed and I do not plan to purchase anything else, I should relinquish my seat, or buy something else, out of courtesy to the business and other customers.

How long should I stay?

  • Well, allow me to defer to my own high expectations. If I were a business owner, how long would I expect a person that bought a $5 coffee to stay?

This concept, this rule of thumb, this etiquette lesson, is my own guiding outline. There are no hard and fast rules, but generally speaking a coffee shop is a business, it’s not your home and it’s not your office, so make sure to treat it with respect and patron appropriately.


If there are other considerations or input to this etiquette question and lesson, please feel free to comment–often times there are multiple ways of answering behavioral questions.

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