Matt Shapiro suggests that Starbucks should change its name to “Startbucks”, because so many startup founders not only get their caffeine kick there but also stay for quite a while during the day to do work and have business meetings. Certainly, I’m a member of that group. Over the course of a week, I spend at least 15 hours in my favourite Starbucks outlet in Freiburg working through my todo lists and answering customer requests.

With power outlets at many tables and free WiFi, Starbucks actively attracts road warriors with their laptops or iPads. But since they still call themselves a “Coffee House” instead of “Coworking Space”, I’d like to emphasise GigaOm’s recommendations for making oneself comfortable working at Starbucks without making others uncomfortable:

  • Almost always favor a single location. It makes it easier for your contacts to drop in for meetings.
  • Learn the names of most of the baristas and also take time to have a conversation with them. It helps build a human connection.
  • Make the baristas involved in your venture – share your news and make them feel part of your struggle.
  • Make sure you buy coffee or something at least three times a day.
  • Tip generously – up to $10 a day will ensure that folks at the store don’t view you as a freeloader and a pest.
  • Don’t spread out your stuff and take up too much space at the store.
  • Invest in great noise-cancelling headphones (to counter the loud background music).
  • Keep your mobile phones on vibrate and leave the store for conversations.
  • Make sure that the number of people attending a meeting is fewer than four so that you can all circle around a single table.

As much as I’ll second the headphone item, I’ll also add a quasi-opposite experience: You’ll soon find out that you’re not the only regular. Drop your introverted geek defences a bit and introduce yourself to your fellow S-Office workers. More often than not, a new acquaintance becomes a business opportunity.