Neil designs his perfect (Internet) cafe

Last night, I dreamed about what I suspect is my perfect cafe.

I tend to use cafes when I am out and about, looking for somewhere quiet to work between meetings.

So here’s what it would be like (according to my dream, at least).

A comfortable chair or solo table

Most cafes are designed for social purposes. So most tables are for multiple people. Chairs are facing each other, for chatting.

Not in my cafe.

The focus here is on somewhere quiet to get some work done.

So, in my head, there is a choice between comfortable chairs and solo tables.

I’m thinking of a comfortable arm chair, with a footrest, for those who prefer working with their laptop actually on their laptop. Sited in a way that you’re not inclined to talk to other people, and nor can other people nearby see your screen.

For tables, they are for individuals, with enough space for a laptop, some peripherals, and a drink and something to eat. But just for one person.

Decent lighting: neither too bright, nor too dim.

A decent Internet connection

The is an Internet cafe, so decent, high speed Internet connectivity is a must-have.

Good, fast, Wi-Fi coverage.

Perhaps even an Ethernet cable at each chair/table, for those who prefer to plug in.

For my needs, it doesn’t even need to be that fast, but I imagine that some people might benefit from (and be willing to pay for?) a reasonably fast, symmetrical(?) connection.

Plenty of charging points

Each chair/table gets at least one dedicated charging point. A normal, 13A, socket.

Yes, factor the cost of the electricity into the price.

(As an aside, don’t get me started on hotels - especially “business” hotels - which don’t have a mains socket on each side of the bed…)

Table service

No, I’m not being lazy, I’m being practical.

If I’ve got my laptop out, I don’t want to have to pack it up and take it with me to go to the counter to get a fresh drink.

I haven’t carried a Kensington lock in years now; I don’t even know if my laptop has a Kensington lock slot.

So I want someone to bring my drink to me.

Since I’m already using my laptop, ordering from the cafe’s own online ordering system would be fine.


Perhaps some booths, if you need to take a call.

And then a rule that you don’t take a call outside a booth. No-one wants to hear Crispin on speakerphone.

No music

If you want music, put on headphones.

If there’s anything being played aloud, perhaps some pink noise or - oddly enough - perhaps the piped audio of some cafe noises.

(Years ago, I recorded an hour of so’s audio when I was in a relatively quiet cafe, and I often listen to that when I am in a nosiy cafe. And then there’s Coffitivity which does a similar thing.)

An entry fee / cover charge is fine

At the moment, if I spend time in a cafe, I buy a drink, even if I don’t actually want a drink. It’s just the cost of taking up that seat, to my mind. A watery Wi-Fi voucher.

In my Internet cafe world, I’d be quite happy to pay an entry fee / cover charge. Perhaps by the hour, or in 30 minute blocks even.

Drinks and food become an upsell / optional item, rather than a pseudo-ticket.