Laptop and latte

Honoré de Balzac once said, ‘When I am not at home, I must be in a café; when I am not in a café, I must be on the way to a café’. Although this French novelist in the end died from his crazy work habits, fueled in part by numerous cups of black coffee each day, many people of today seem to have inherited Balzac’s obsession with coffee places and have decided to blend this obsession into their working lives.

These days you can’t sip a coffee without catching a glimpse of someone at a neighboring table working on his laptop. And thanks to the many American coffee shop chains, this hype has spread around the world.

But if you think the trend of coffee shops evolving into a public extension of our offices only came about with the emergence of Starbucks, Costa Coffee, etc, then you’re likely to be surprised to know that the bond between café and work dates back to centuries ago. Les Deux Magots café on Saint-Germain-des-Prés, as the number one rendezvous spot in Paris, used to be the place where one could find Hemingway, Sartre and Camus writing and philosophizing. Of course today such a working style isn’t just the artists’ privilege any more. After all, with free power, internet and other facilities, including a toilet, who can say no to this rent-free office? Every day in Holland huge numbers of freelancers, the self-employed and unemployed flock to coffee shops scattered across the landscape, regardless of the weather. And as the recession continues, this flock seems to be increasing in size every day. Having additional plug points for laptops and hand-held devices is easy, but how to create an atmosphere that provides the right amount of noise, social interaction and variation, which most freelancers and the self-employed miss in their four-walled home offices, is a new challenge most coffee shop owners need to address.

If you haven’t yet experienced this particular laptop-and-latte melange, the Coffee Company on the Market Square in Delft is a good place to feel this vibe. The first Coffee Company shop was born in Amsterdam in 1996, out of the love its founder had for the grotestadsritueel (big city ritual), which he discovered in New York and London. Today Coffee Company has definitely become the most popular meeting spot and working space for young people in this city. However, running a coffee shop like this in a student city is always tricky, because we students are famous for buying a single cup of coffee and then becoming space spongers. To discourage us from hogging the tables for a whole day, Coffee Company has figured out a strategy: free wifi comes with at least one drink and only lasts for one hour. Oops… a pop-up message on my screen is reminding me that it’s time for a second cup. 

Coen Disberg woont op Oranjeplantage 46/47, een corpshuis met zeventien mannen. De HJ-hokken meten hier slechts zes vierkante meter, maar wel heel goedkoop. Hij is dit jaar begonnen met werktuigbouwkunde, maar hij is alweer gestopt. In september gaat hij IO doen en de rest van het jaar is hij aan het parachutespringen, sportklimmen en een beetje werken. In dit huis ben je sowieso een jaar HJ, ook als er halverwege het jaar nog een huisgenoot bijkomt. Op dit moment zijn er twee HJ’s. Samen moeten ze het glas en oud papier wegbrengen en zorgen voor de vuilnis. Ook moeten ze zorgen dat er altijd voldoende eieren in huis zijn, en dat is nog niet eenvoudig: eieren blijven drie weken goed, maar het verbruik varieert nogal.

Editor Redactie

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