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If you buy a coffee you can sit in a cafe and work for at least 4 hours.

Agree. The markup on coffee is astronomical. Getting to lounge around or work in a cafe is part of the product you're paying for and 4 hours seems fair.

Disagree. Real estate is expensive, so are employees who hand craft your coffee. You're paying for a lot of things besides caffeinated water including time that you're saving.

Yeah but most coffee shops are encouraging people to spend time there doing work. Free wifi, desks, sometimes even printers. If they wanted to just serve coffee they would provide all these accomodations. 

Yeah but they do this to stay competitive in market. Sure people have always spent time in coffee shops talking, but at some point that migrated from talking to working on a computer. And that can last much longer than a conversation.

Fine in theory if a person works more than 4 hours they're going to continue to keep buying more drinks and food. That means more money for the coffee shop owner.

Fine that could happen. Or a person might bring their own snacks to eat with the coffee they bought. This happens all the time amazingly. Totally unfair to the coffee shop owner.

Ok but people sitting and working doesn't get in the way of patrons who want to take a coffee to go. And that's the majority of coffee buyers. They walk in, they walk out. The number of people sitting at the tables is irrelevant. 

OK but if the owner pays for more real estate to allow more people who are staying, that means they have to charge more for coffee, which gets passed down to all customers. So indirectly it does affect those people you're describing.

Sure but the market plays a bigger role in regulating coffee prices than the individual store. No one is going to pay twice as much for a coffee at store X if store Y is selling equally good coffee for less. The size of the shop doesn't matter to them.

Sure but what about the social pressure to be quiet with all the people around who are working? Coffee shops traditionally have been a place for conversation and debate, not silence typing. Now when you walk into some shops you've got all these people who are treating it like an office. If coffee shops limited the amount of time a person could sit and work, they might create more likely environments for more casual patrons.

But a person could sit and talk for 6 hours too. That's not any better than a person who is working on a computer.

But let's say the average customer who brings their computer needs to do 2 hours of work. The people sitting for 4+ hours are taking up spots from other paying customers who should get just as much of a right to sit, but now can't because of a few individuals overstaying their welcome.


The Devil's Advocate blog is an experimental format that poses a question, then has two opposing voices share their thought process as they defend why they agree or disagree. Learn more about the Devil's Advocate card game here. Sign-up below to get on the pre-order list.