In search of the right coffee shop environment

What do you look for when seeking out a favourite coffee shop? Ambience? Good coffee? Wifi? What about if the wifi was missing?

I had thought working in coffee shops would be a great idea – good coffee and the chance to relax and get into the writing zone – whatever that looks like, but sitting in Black Medicine (BM) in Edinburgh, which does serve excellent coffee/black medicine served as a cappuccino, i realise things are not always that straightforward. Its such a hive of activity – there’s a definite buzz in the air. I’ve discovered not all coffee shops are equal and while BM is perfect for a pre-theatre meet up, its too noisy to hear myself think or to write creatively, allowing the imaginative synapses fire up.

Mmm …. Black Medicine

The reason for this – I suspect is the ethos of BM – they deliberately have no wifi, seeking instead to create community – to actually get people talking to each other.

In an age where it seems that technology is everywhere, where everyone has worries about AI, and with the pervasiveness of technology, how refreshing to ‘step back time’, enjoy good coffee and actually hear people talking to each other rather than sitting together silently while checking their social media feeds.

How refreshing to find an establishment willing to buck the trend and nudge people towards conversation by taking away wifi. It must be working because more and more often it is becoming more difficult to find a table and a seat.

It’s great to feel the buzz, but now to find somewhere else to write when in Edinburgh.

What about you? Do you have somewhere special you go to write? A favourite cafe? have you, like me, discovered some limitations in finding suitable bolt holes?

I look forward to reading about your experiences.

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  1. Sounds like a great place- although I’m with you- I couldn’t write there. I tend to do better if I’m either at home, outside somewhere, or sitting g randomly somewhere in my car.

  2. Five years ago I found a coffee shop close to home, they had just opened and their coffee was good. It was not overly crowded; I was there every week. Now I don’t even bother. The place is infested with Millennials, they’re all there for the free wifi. They get there early, grab a seat and stay for the day. Don’t think they are going to share that table of 4 with anyone. I’ve since found a couple others, not as convienient; I pray they too don’t become infested though I fear it is only time.

    • I know what you mean. I was surprised at how busy Black Medicine was, especially without WiFi… but they’re beside Edinburgh University so they do attract lots of students

  3. Hi dear Bx

    This back medicine sounds like a strange and at the same time unique name for a place.

    I love the idea of tech free zone. We may need a space and time when we can enjoy life and drink coffee.

    Finding a right place is difficult.

    I will try something like this. I will see how that will affect my writing 🙂

    How are you doing dear friend?

  4. I do avoid the Costa and Starbucks due to noise. My first experience was going into a Costa with a nurse colleague. The noise was crushing. When we met up in the local town, we did what we soon called ‘The 3C’s’. This was Charity Shops, Coffee and Chat. When he emails, he says ‘Gray! Time for the 3C’s?’ So we have found a few quieter cafe choices. They all have a great 4th C too……cakes. I know you love your own explorations into these establishments. Another blogger I read also covers similar eateries and cafes write ups like yourself. He is in America and also writes fantastic descriptions, as you yourself achieve. Cheers Brenda.

    • I must admit Starbucks have opened a concession at the college. It’s good to get discounted prices … and sometimes the cafe can be quieter than the workroom. If I’m out with hubby, it’s usually Caffè Nero

      • I suppose I had the VeeDub Bus and the possibility of putting the kettle on when parking up. The nicest coffee shop ever, with an outdoor/indoor sitting choice and a different view each time. Sounds like you have a nice Nero set up too.

      • I like the flexibility you have with your VeeDub 😁
        There’s a new Neros opened up beside Queen Street train station that I need to investigate

      • Nothing nicer than a coffee and cookies outside the VeeDub. There is an air of bliss. Neros? Give it a write up. You could become a review queen of cafe, cake and coffee culture for a magazine or newspaper. Extension to your blog analyses. 😊

      • And where has this cold temperature come from. Its currently 0°c in Glasgow as I head home. Glad I dug out my scarf and gloves this morning

      • We took our grandson into Newtown yesterday and Aberystwyth today. Very, very cold now. Better than the rain though. Bought logs for the open fire too. Sister in law and husband visit for a few days on Thursday, so it will be bourbon and open crackling flames to keep us warm. Scarf and gloves for local walks. Your own scarf/gloves combination? Maybe it should be Nepal handmade/fairtrade based soft woolly and colourful bright. Makes you feel both warm and happy from material and colour choice.

      • Lol. I wish. I’m allergic to wool but I do go with warm, cosy … bright colours … more likely leopard/tiger prints 😁

      • Bet Lynch hey! 😆 My brother’s wife is a fan of those prints. We’re all four of us in in Trentham Gardens next week. She’ll definitely be shopping for more clothes. My brother’s head will be gently shaking with one raised eyebrow attached. Not for clothes choice. Simply for the poor wardrobes back home. Full already and overloaded. 😆

  5. Edinburgh is somewhere I want to visit. I like to find small coffee shops or individual ones if there are some. Support small businesses. Thank you for sharing.

    Lauren – bournemouthgirl

    • Thanks Lauren. How are things at your end? how is Uni?
      If you are ever in Edinburgh… or Glasgow … you must let me know.

  6. sounds a wonderful place, Brenda… to enjoy a cup of coffee and just be apart of a world.

    to writing… for me seems to much to get into that mindset to allow for writing unless it is about the coffee itself 😁 writing in one owns world works best I think.

    always lovely these shares of yours🤍

  7. I have just found a “chocolaterie” that I couldn’t try because it was full. I will go there maybe after Christmas as now all are crazy about shopping food and drinks, but I could never write in a place that is crowded and noisy. What I like to do in such places is looking around, exploring people faces and trying to catch some of their talks.

    • Ooh. I hope you enjoy your return trip. That’s one of the things I envy you of, being in Belgium – all that beautiful chocolate. Its also one of my memories of my year spent in France too. 😁

  8. I do most of my writing at home, in the quiet. But I also like to arrive early for coffee dates with friends, do a small amount of people watching and get a bit of writing done. I may use a random customer or a sight out the window as an idea for a story or a chapter of one already in progress. My brain likes quiet for my muse to really engage, however.

    • I guess I’m still exploring. I’ve not really thought about what I’m writing in different environments, but I’ll need to give that some thought

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