I like my coffee strong and my waitresses sullen, which is why I spend so much time in coffee shops writing. I am now huddled in a caffeine-induced haze watching letters appear at random on my screen. And yet, in moments of absentmindedness, I have begun to notice a growing number of people sat in dimly lit spaces, banked behind wisps of steam, staring with hypnotized
enchantment into MacBooks. The few times I can tear myself loose from the chain locking my eyes to my screen, I see a cloud of bloggers, writers, artists and movie makers blocking out the rest of the world to hone in on whatever that silver glow from their screen has burrowed them into.
So what draws people out of their homes and into coffee shops? For me it is devoid of distraction, plus I don’t really have a decent coffee maker at home. There is something appealing about sitting with a warm panini and hot chai latte and phasing into the computer screen that seems to boost my creativity.
And it’s not just laptops that take up space in my local cafe, it is also the meeting of creative minds. Many an animated conversation takes place over a steaming frothy coffee and there are times when I am enraptured by the gesturing of a screenwriter explaining his script to a prospective director or an artist’s fervour as he explains his new work or exhibition. Have coffee houses across the UK become the new offices for the freelance creative?
Hidden amongst the glowing faces and the energy of creative meetings, there are the casual coffee drinkers, in from the cold or rain, who seem to have no real right to be there at all. They serve no creative purpose; have no real connection to the network of artistic minds that pour into silver laptops or into the consciousness of anyone willing to listen.
I have come to realise that Shoreditch is awash with minds yelling to be heard, but in coffee shops they whisper expectantly. This is the creative age we live in. The cafe is the new studio, sitting within a 15-inch laptop screen surrounded by similar minds close enough to tap into. The coffee shop environment now replaces the dusty artist’s studio for sheltered creativity.