So far, this is one of my favorites. The Hyperion, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, is just at the limit of being too far to go to just for a few hours’ work on my day off. 50 miles each way is a little far for a half day. Gotta save this one for the whole-day excursions. When you work from home, however, you realize the value of having a change of scenery. No matter how nice the view from your window (and let’s face it, most views aren’t that great, although I’m lucky that way) it gets a little monotonous after a while. Go to a café, on the other hand, and you can people-watch when you need a break from looking at the screen. Go to one café often enough and you start recognizing the regulars, exchanging nods of greeting with them when you come and go… kind of like when you work in a large office. The other patrons and the staff take the place of the colleagues you’d otherwise exchange a few friendly words with every once in a while. Plus, call me strange if you like, but I sometimes find total silence more distracting than a pleasant background buzz of music and conversation.
Of course, a café has to meet certain prerequisites if one is to comfortably work there. Most importantly, it has to have an atmosphere that’s friendly to patrons who come there to work. In other words, not every café owner wants quiet people with laptops camped out for hours, taking up space and not spending that much money over the course of the day. These types generally make it pretty clear by doing things like not making power outlets available to their customers or not providing free WiFi. It’s understandable and I can’t blame them for it. There should be different kinds of cafés, and some should be more conducive to socializing than working. In some countries there are no cafés where you feel comfortable pulling out a computer. Indeed, that’s one of the things I missed most when I lived in Italy – being able to go someplace and sit for a few hours out of the weather, reading a book, writing or just relaxing. Such a thing is a true boon, especially when you are traveling and need a place other than a hotel room to relax in for a little while.
The Hyperion offers the best of both worlds. The front room is furnished with big, communal tables and full of the noise of conversation and music. Once you go into the back room, however, you discover that the sound system hasn’t even been wired to reach there (I love that!). Even the largest tables there are small enough that you don’t feel rude taking a whole one for yourself, and nearly each one is equipped with its own power outlet. Ah! This is café-writer bliss, indeed. What makes it even better is that the coffee is actually really good.
I know, despite all that, you may think I’m nuts to make a round trip of a hundred miles just for a quiet day in a coffee shop with a cup of joe. This is why I’ve begun doing some exploratory excursions to find others closer to home. Don’t worry. I’ll be sharing my findings with you.
I’ll meet you back here for a cup of coffee soon.
Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by.
Here is a link I stumbled across while writing this post. It’s to a post by a blogger in Singapore. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who has made the quest for ideal cafés into an international pursuit.