Coffee Shops and Creativity


I would not call myself as either a coffee person or a tea person. I don’t need caffeine to wake me up. Most of the time water and some fresh air does the job. Coffee is an occasional treat that I enjoy a few times every week. But tea I seem to drink quite often. Only because my husband needs his morning cup of masala chai and I like to give him company. We enjoy our morning routine where we sip our teas in contemplative silence. It is actually my favorite part of the day. Five years ago if someone asked me to choose between tea and coffee, I would have picked coffee. No two minds about that. But my tastes have changed since then. I now enjoy both tea and coffee. What beverage I pick depends on my mood at that instant.

In spite of not being too fond of coffee or tea, I am extremely fond of coffee shops. Especially indie, local stores that have a lot of seating space. I don’t care about the coffee itself. It does not matter if the coffee is roasted and ground in front of me, or if it’s an exotic blend. I like to get a cappuccino and mull over life for a few hours at these cafes. I usually take along with me a book to read or a notebook to write on. I also enjoy watching people and unintentionally catching bits of their conversations. I feel coffee shops provide a conducive environment for any kind of creative activity.

But I don’t know what it is about the coffee shops that I love. I know a lot of people enjoy working at a cafe instead of a traditional office. I have been trying to understand why it’s so. If all I am going to do is sit alone and write or read, why can’t I just do it at home? Why do I prefer sitting at a busy cafe?

Maybe it is the smell of coffee. I do love the aroma of a good coffee. Maybe it is the music. Coffee shops tend to play the best music: the kind that is perfect for day dreaming and journal writing.

Maybe it is the monotonous background noise. The hum of the coffee grinder, the clinking of pots, pans, and mugs. Add to that a sprinkling of hushed and animated conversations with the occasional laughter. Noizio even has a track called “Coffee Shop”. It works great for days when you can’t go to a cafe.

I found an NYTimes article on this topic. It is titled “How the hum of a coffee shop can boost creativity“. This is what it says,

In a series of experiments that looked at the effects of noise on creative thinking, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had participants brainstorm ideas for new products while they were exposed to varying levels of background noise. Their results, published in The Journal of Consumer Research, found that a level of ambient noise typical of a bustling coffee shop or a television playing in a living room, about 70 decibels, enhanced performance compared with the relative quiet of 50 decibels.

A higher level of noise, however, about 85 decibels, roughly the noise level generated by a blender or a garbage disposal, was too distracting, the researchers found.

Well, that makes perfect sense to me, the noise level at a coffee shop is ideal for creative work and this has been scientifically proven. I get a lot of writing done at busy coffee shops. The first draft of this article was written at a coffee shop! Now I have an excuse to spend more time at my favorite coffee shop.

3 thoughts on “Coffee Shops and Creativity

  1. rosie365 says:

    Oh thanks for this. I found the answer for me. I always think that I should to buy a expresso machine, and save money. But I love to go the coffee shops (when is quite haha) I love the smell overall. 🙂


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