Creative High-Five: Coffices


Despite my profession as a designer, I never thought I would enjoy working from a coffee shop. It's my personality; I get distracted easily. The overlapping conversations, constant door opening/closing and people being people (talking loudly, laughing, hand/foot tapping) make it easy for my mind to wander. Even with noise-cancelling headphones on, I couldn’t cancel out the visuals. I once watched a man sprinkle 8 packets of Splenda in a single cup of coffee and spent the better part of my hour wondering if he had any taste buds left.

Needless to say, that all changed a few years ago when my cousin was in town and needed a place to do some work. “We can coffice,” she said, “you know, a coffee office.” As it turns out, there are plenty of places to choose from.

Quantum coffee , Toronto
Halleschehaus , Berlin

Halleschehaus, Berlin


For me, I use the coffice to work on things that I’m stuck on or taking too long to complete. Generally if I’m stuck on something, it’s because I’m giving it too much time and my natural reaction is to giving it even MORE time. I start spinning in circles when I’m putting in the time but making no progress. So if time is the obstacle, why not limit it? From experience, I have about 2-3 hours of creativity to tackle something before needing a break, that just so happens to be the maximum amount of time I like being in a coffee shop. Put the two together and something magical happens: I can get work done! Sometimes, giving myself a time limit to do something is enough to boost my creativity and get me back on track.

Good for: Someone who can work with a light setup. I typically have a laptop, a notebook and small tablet which is optional. You can get away with more stuff but that’s just more stuff for you to carry around.

Hard pass: If you have a specific office set-up (multiple monitors, ergonomic furniture, laptop stand), being in a coffice will be a difficult adjustment. Also, if you need to make a lot of phone calls, the person on the other end will hear every coffee cup being stacked and the hissing of the espresso machine, even if you’re using headphones with a mic.

Related: My map of preferred Toronto coffices

Creative High-Fives is a series discussing the things that unexpectedly spark inspiration for creativity, thinking and productivity.