With the Internet and modern-day communications technology, I can work virtually anywhere. This means I have no set work space. My office is wherever there is an Internet connection and preferably coffee. For me, this means coffee shops.
Here are twenty things I look for in an ideal coffee shop “office”.
- Reliable, high speed Internet
The faster the Wi-Fi, the better. I have found that Internet speed has a big effect on my productivity. There is nothing worse than being ready to work and having to wait minutes for a page to load. Or finding out that the wireless connection is not working. A slow or unreliable connection can add up to hours of wasted time over the course or a day or week.
- Good coffee
Americanos and brewed or Vietnamese coffee are my go-to beverages. I usually stay away from lattes and other “fancier” drinks, except to spice things up on occasion.
- Standing desk
Having the option to place my laptop on a bench and work upright is ideal for me. Since I stare at a screen for an inordinate amount of time during the day, I prefer not to be sitting 100% of the time while I do so. Sitting too much tends to make me feel like a hunched over mess. Ideally I would stand for at least an hour or so and then alternate between sitting and standing as needed.
- Good tables
If I am going to be working at a place for an extended period of time, having access to good table is key. This means an appropriate height, ample surface area and plenty of leg room.
I prefer quietter settings without loud music or hordes of conversations. I pretty much always use earplugs or noise cancelling headphones to block out external noise as there is almost always some background noise in Hanoi.
- Friendly staff
Friendly employees can make a big, positive difference in the overall experience.
A little smoke in the air is fine, just as long as it’s not too close by or heavy.
- A pleasant atmosphere/concept
I really like Cong Caphe for this. It is a “Viet Cong” themed coffee chain, with various locations in Hanoi. The one in my neighborhood has four floors with lot of plants and old communist literature and posters decorating the walls. The staff also dresses in green fatigues. Very cool place to hang out.
- Not too crowded
Having some people around creates a pleasant atmosphere. Too many people, however, create noisy distractions and a lack of good seating availability.
- Ample outlets
Access to an electrical outlet for my laptop is essential for stays lasting longer than my battery life.
- Close by
Anywhere within 15 minutes is preferred. It can be fun to explore and try new, more far flung places. But as a rule, the closer, the better.
- Plenty of room
My ideal coffee shop would be spacious and roomy, not cramped.
- Comfortable chairs
Some chairs feel designed for a species other than Homo sapiens. I try to avoid these chairs.
- Good lighting
This is especially true for me because my laptop’s screen reflects a lot in bright, sunny conditions.
- Good floor layout
A place that arranges its furniture sensibly and has good overall interior design is a plus.
- Good bathroom
The cleaner, the better. Good sinks and hand drying options are a plus.
I don’t usually eat much at coffee shops, but I will at places like Joma that have a decent food selection.
- Comfortable temperature
Not too hot or too cold. Just right.
I have found that the level of cleanliness usually reflects on the overall quality and service of a coffee shop. The Starbucks by the Opera House is an example of a very clean and pleasant cafe.
- Not too expensive
This is not much of an issue in Vietnam as most everything here, including coffee, is relatively cheap. But due to the relatively high volume of coffee I drink, it’s nice to have an affordable coffee.