20 Reasons Why Creative People Work in Cafes

Why Creative People Work in CafesEver since I was old enough to realize there would never be a want ad in a newspaper that described a job I wanted, I’ve loved working in cafes.

I never really thought much about it until a few days ago when a baffled friend of mine asked why I was so into it.

His assumption?

That working in a cafe would be a distraction.

A distraction?

Dude, quite the opposite.

And so, at the risk of trotting out a few half-baked conclusions that my non-cafe-going critics will have a field day trashing, here goes:


  1. It doesn’t feel like work.
  2. It’s a nice break from the office.
  3. You don’t have an office.
  4. Easy access to caffeine.
  5. If you have a home office, you appreciate the fact that — in a cafe — there are no interruptions from your wife/husband/kids/roommate who rarely think they are interrupting you when they stick their head in your office and begin their conversation with something like “I’m not interrupting you, am I?”
  6. The act of going from your office to a cafe gets the creative juices flowing.
  7. Muffins.
  8. You get a whole bunch of unexpected inputs that change your perspective for the moment (i.e. snatches of conversation, songs on the radio, odd posters on the wall).
  9. There are no distracting tasks to default to (i.e. cleaning your desk, filing, tossing paper clips over the cubicle wall).
  10. The people in your office want you to talk in hushed tones and have a need for you to appear busier than you really are.
  11. Being waited on by the cafe staff puts you in the mode of “things coming to you” without much effort.
  12. You focus on your most creative projects.
  13. It feels good being part of a community — even if the community disbands after your third cappuccino.
  14. Old patterns are interrupted. New patterns emerge.
  15. You like the authenticity of your responses when the geek at the next table, peeking up from his Mac, asks what you’re working on.
  16. It’s like having a focus group at your beck and call. You can ask anyone for their opinion and they’ll give it, no strings attached.
  17. If you work at home, it’s just a matter of time before your spouse asks you to move a piece of furniture or clean the bathroom.
  18. It brings out the artist and poet in you.
  19. If you go back to the same cafe again and again, you develop trusting relationships with some of the other regulars — sharing enthusiasm, feedback, and croissants.
  20. If anything breaks, someone else has to fix it.

Any other reasons I missed?

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Mitch DitkoffMitch Ditkoff is the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions and the author of “Awake at the Wheel”, as well as the very popular Heart of Innovation blog.

Mitch Ditkoff




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  1. Rinat abdullin on July 26, 2010 at 7:25 am

    Straight to the point!

    // written on iPad in a Cafe))

  2. Klaus-Peter Speidel on July 26, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Nice list, Mitch! I have a few favourites, mainly your 1.
    It seems tremendously important for many people working in creative industries that their work doesn’t feel like work. There also was a book in Germany that’s somewhat related to this, it was called “We call it work – the digital bohemia…”.
    10. The fact that (even in creative industries) the office is a subtle space of surveillance is an interesting observation that could have inspired Foucault and that it would be worth exploring…
    13. This is something that makes public libraries suitable spots for working, even if you don’t need any of the books they have. I makes you feel like a part of the thinking world.

  3. Franis Engel on July 26, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Part of why I like working in libraries = not feeling obligated to buy anything to have the right to stay and work. But then, you’d miss the wonderful feeling of all good things coming to you, as suggested in point #11…

  4. ramsey on July 27, 2010 at 3:22 am

    people watching? a inspirational distraction?

  5. Paul Hassels Monning on August 20, 2010 at 3:20 am

    True, but what about all those highly creative entrepreneurs that set up shop in their garage? I look forward to 20 suggestions in the nextblogpost (or comments) from that perspective…

  6. Chris in South Korea on October 24, 2011 at 12:37 am

    There’s also an element of time involved – for better or worse, it’s too easy to sit at home and meander on the computer for hours because it doesn’t feel like time is passing. At a coffeeshop, you’re keenly aware of time passing – people entering and exiting, the mechanical process of making coffee, and so on.

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