Food & Drink

Death to Shaky Coffee Shop Tables

coffee shop table
Flickr/Evan Goldenberg

Tables instill order into chaos. They serve as a dividing surface between civilized behavior and just throwing your stuff everywhere. When I leave my house to go to a coffee shop, I sit at a table to work. I'm doing my job. I expect that table to do its job.

But all too often that table just isn't reliable. I just want a level surface on which to drink my coffee without the cup shaking like a T-Rex just escaped. And for some reason that's too much to ask.

A table has one job to do: hold my stuff

If there's one thing that sets us apart from animals, it's that we're way smarter. Also, they don't use tables. That said, tables are not complicated things!

All they need to provide is a smooth, steady surface on which to place a laptop. It doesn't take a space monkey to understand that: I have seen plenty of non-astronaut chimps in captivity sitting at tables like it's nothing. But somehow a business, whose premise is that people go there to buy a drink and sit and drink it, haven't mastered this basic concept.

How does this even happen?

Does the daily grind of heavily typed status updates wear down the table legs? Do furniture stores sell slightly uneven tables at a deep discount? Is someone going around with a tiny razor and shaving off little bits of table just to be a dick?

I just don't get it. I built a table once, and I did a pretty crappy job, but it doesn't shake. If I can get the probably-stoned Home Depot guy to cut a set of even 4x4s, then successfully nail them together myself, a mass-manufactured table shouldn't be so shoddy that coffee spills all over my notebook.

Why does no one fix them?

It's really hard to start a coffee shop, but it isn't hard to tape a small piece of paper to a table leg. Pulling a proper shot of espresso takes great precision, balancing a table does not. At the end of every shift when the barista wipes down the table, how do they not notice that it rocks like the deck of a cruise ship?

Do they not care? So much effort is put into giving the customer a good experience, yet as soon as I sit down at a shaky table, I'm immediately disappointed. A stable working surface isn't too much to ask. Please, please, please level your tables. Anything less would just be uncivilized.

Dan Gentile is a staff writer on Thrillist's National Food and Drink team. He quotes Charles Barkley at every opportunity he gets. Follow him to more Round Mound of Rebound-isms at @Dannosphere.