As with most young laptop owners living in an urban environment, I frequent coffee shops. I also work in one. These factors, in conjunction with the fact that I’m a curmudgeon, have led me to develop a serious sense of manners about the whole business.
If you just order a regular coffee, you aren’t exactly required to tip. However, after a refill, or if you plan on sticking around the café for a while, you should most definitely throw a dollar into the jar.
If you require a lot of special accoutrements (split shot, half-caf mocha, light on the chocolate, heavy on foam, for example) or require the barista to explain more than two drinks to you, you should tip.
If you get a very small amount of change back from your order (less than a quarter) leave it in the tip jar. It doesn’t dent your pocket, but it can really add up for the baristas.
Cafés are highly social places, but people are often trying to accomplish things. If everyone in the room can follow your conversation, you need to switch to an inside voice. This is especially true if you tend to repeat the same conversation to different people, are talking about your sex life or failed relationships, discussing your “art,” or telling your friend the problems with the city in which you both reside.
If you receive a phone call – try to go outside to answer it. If it’s a simple, “Yes, I’m at the coffee shop,” then keep it quiet. No one wants to hear you spend the next twenty minutes telling your friend about what you did last night – especially if you’ve already told this story to someone else in the room.
On The Local Weirdoes:
There are going to be some freaks out there. By simple observation, you can usually determine if these people are best ignored (ex. Drunk Elvis Impersonator), or are okay to interact with (ex. Fellow smoking a pipe and reading US Weekly in a Ninja Turtles sweatshirt) if it becomes necessary. Integrating yourself with the weirdoes on a limited basis is beneficial for all parties involved. It’s good to have them on your side.
Try to take up as little space as is necessary for your comfort. This is only fair. In the event of a full house, either move on or wait a minute. Table sharing is better done outside, or with people who you recognize by sight. If someone asks to share your table, you’re probably stuck – but you don’t actually have to talk to them. Unless you live in a romantic comedy, asking a really attractive person who happens to be reading a book you love to share their table will not result in a love affair. It will just make you look like a creep.
Your barista probably fits into one of several categories: world weary, attractively haggard gentleman, very attractive, possibly dumb fellow, friendly and adorable lady, really attractive, but bitchy lady, or seriously weird person. Part of their job is to give you something that you want. This is not the first step into a beautiful relationship; it’s a job requirement. Instead of projecting your blank lust upon them, be friendly, tip well, and back off. If they want to interact with you, they will do it. Think of baristas like small woodland creatures – adorable, vicious if disturbed, but ultimately harmless.
(In addition to complaining, I've also had a few things to say over at Space Junk for Space Punks.)