I am a mobile man. I write this from a seat in a fine little cafe in Plymouth. The rain is mizzling down outside. But I have a cup of rocket fuel coffee in front of me, a selection of the day’s periodicals. All is well.
Yes, I have become one of those people who ‘take cafe’ professionally. Usually seen with a laptop, now, like me, they might just as easily be tapping away on a smartphone.
As I sit here in the Sage Cafe on Hyde Park Road there are threeother people in here: a middle-aged woman flicking through glossy women’s magazines who has just been greeted by an arriving friend of similar age (she makes four), a man who looks like he has the morning off from work, plus a priest who has popped in for coffee and toast in a rain defying cassock.
Am I asking too much when I hope to see more people in here. True, it is a gloomy Friday morning, but where are the business people? Where better to hold an informal meetig or engage in a little networking that a cafe? You avoid the expense and formality of taking a contact for lunch or dinner (or breakfast), you escape the staid, dry atmosphere of the office (I’ve rarely had a good meeting in an office). Yes, Sage is out of the town centre, but you can park free for an hour on nearby streets (or bloody walk you lazy bastards!), escaping the legalised usury of city centre parking.
My coffee (Origin) cost me £2. If your company can’t stretch to that occasionally, you’re in trouble.
Also, cafe owners! Get in on the act. Why not arrange networking mornings – offer free coffee top-ups or something to get people in. Many people are just waiting for an excuse to escape the office for a (productive) hour.
I have to say, I like the Sage. Partly because I can walk or cycle here from my Underground Lair, partly because it has a friendly ambience, partly because my latte was only £2, party because it sells Devonshire Tea.
But it isn’t of course the only place around here. Mutley Plain has several coffee cafes, catering for all budgets and tastes. It also has a bigish car park. And you can definitely walk there.
And there are many other little cafes dotted around.
So what are you waiting for. Caffeine ahoy!
Edit: since writing this the Sage has closed! Fret not, it has just had a change of owner, opens again on Monday. Looks like I’ll have to check it out again. Shame.