13 ways to camp at a coffee shop without pissing off your barista

barista high five
Chadwick Wood

Campers are the bedbugs of the coffee shop world. It's unclear where they came from, you can't get rid of them, and they make baristas want to scratch out their eyeballs. But a coffee shop lives and dies by regulars, even if they're glued to MacBooks for eight hours at a time and subsist mainly on house-coffee refills.

Students, freelancers, and hipsters simply need places to hang out, and that's not going to change anytime soon. What CAN change is the etiquette you practice when turning a public place into your private office. Here's how to do just that.

tip jar
Dan Gentile


Goes without saying, but if you're going to make yourself at home, you've gotta pay rent.

Leave a tab open

It lets the barista know that you'll be there for a while, but that you're not planning on nursing that cortado for four hours. Also it keeps them from having to repeatedly run your credit card for $2.50.

Don't ask the baristas to watch your computer

First, it makes them realize that you've been there long enough to load your bladder with free water. Second, it makes them feel responsible for you. Third, it makes you look like a paranoid nerd.

coffee shop
Dan Gentile

Keep an eye on occupancy

If customers are entering the shop, looking around for a seat like lost puppies, then walking out, you're doing the shop a disservice by clinging to that four-top real estate like it's Boardwalk for the same amount of time it takes to finish a game of Monopoly.

Be friendly with the baristas, but not too friendly

Your goal is to walk the line between anonymous and obnoxious. You want the baristas to be able to forget about you, but in a good way.

Don't throw your stuff everywhere

Push the chairs in around you, but don't throw your bag on the ground. If you must spread out papers, don't make it look like an IRS cubicle.

Dan Gentile

Go outside for phone calls

No one wants to listen to your conversation, and since you have one finger in your other ear to drown out the background noise, you're probably talking REALLY LOUD.

Don't abuse refill policies

The barista doesn't care that you're squeezing a few quarters out of the shop with every refill, but they definitely hate that the policy is enabling your camping.

Wear real clothes

Slippers and sweatpants disrespect the idea that you're in a public place. If you want to lounge around all day in a Snuggie, do it at home.

bus tub
Dan Gentile

Bus your table

There's no higher disrespect than not cleaning up after yourself.

Don't pick your nose

You are not invisible. If you look like you're about to have an aneurysm, scratch a cloud of dandruff off your head, or dig for green gold, the baristas will notice and it will gross/stress them out.

Compliment the music

You may not love My Bloody Valentine, dissonant jazz, or Brian Eno's early ambient work, but you should damn well pretend you do. It shows that you're appreciating the environment, and nothing tickles a barista's pleasure center quite like a compliment on their obscure musical taste.

Keep buying things and tip again

One cup of coffee is fine for starters. But once your mug has been empty for an hour, buy something else. And it doesn't hurt to own up to the fact that you're essentially purchasing a few more hours of Internet. Why do you think coffee shops always have banana bread by the counter? It's not because anyone likes it, it's because people feel guilty and need a way to spend another $2.

Dan Gentile is a staff writer on the National Food and Drink team at Thrillist. During the course of writing this article, he was actually witness to a customer aggressively complaining about there being no seats in the coffee shop. Follow him to salty looks at @Dannosphere.