Once a haunt of college students, suddenly coffee shops are teeming with everyone from copywriters to corporate types. More and more people find the experience of working out of coffee shops so positive that even if they have an office, people prefer a few café days each month.
Apart from the obvious attraction of good coffee and cake, what is it about coffee shops that makes them such popular places to work? “For people who either work in the corporate space or from home, they can provide a change of environment that allows individuals to enter their flow state, minimise distractions found in the home/office, feed off the energy of those around them and increase their productivity,” says Jessica Wall, Behaviour Therapist and Health Coach.
Being in an environment where you see people who don’t necessarily remind you of every deadline you have coming up also helps, finds Sana Alvi, a publicist at a PR agency. “It takes the pressure off and definitely allows for the creative juices to flow when it comes to work,” she says. “I won’t deny the fact that conversations coming from people around me, that I know nothing about, have inspired me more than once, altering my work in the process.”
With more than 150 stores in the UAE, Costa Coffee offers plenty of choice when it comes to branching out from the office.
“Working from our stores is always something we encourage,” says Shemaine Jones, Head of Marketing, Costa Coffee UAE. “We are happy to be that safe space, which nurtures entrepreneurs in the region and gives people some much needed time out of the office and offer a change of scenery. Even if it’s only once a month, this can work wonders on productivity.”
With people from different industries all working under one roof, cafés also offer huge networking opportunities.
“One has the chance to connect, look at different perspectives and views, collaborate, find solutions to business challenges and much more,” says Francis Montenegro, Head of Operations, Fen Café and Restaurant. “No office space can offer this.”
To stay ahead of the competition, coffee houses have to ensure their concept stands out and gives customers a reason to come back. “It’s the casual and relaxed atmosphere with pleasant music and plenty of natural light accompanied with quality food that brings in the office crowds,” says Claudio Leenders, Owner, Leen’s Casual to Gourmet. “We also see a lot of business owners, government employees and young entrepreneurs who often want to get away from their desk and enjoy time working on ideas and plans while enjoying our speciality coffee selections.”
It’s also important to ensure the coffee quality is always consistent. “We make sure to educate guest what they’ll get when they order a certain blend of coffee,” says Leenders. “Our staff are trained to offer a personal approach to every guest making their experience a memorable one.”
Leon Surynt, Managing Director and Co-founder of Nightjar, says his coffee shop is a distinctive yet chameleon concept.
“We’re built on nostalgic touches, so everyone draws their own experience from our space. In a city where so many people are far away from home, those notes really stick. Moreover, we have way better music than your average office. Not to mention, it’s super easy to goof off and talk vinyl records. Besides, the flavoured cold brews and nitro iced teas to keep the laptop crown cool and caffeinated.”
To be successful, coffee houses also have to keep up with innovations. “We also strive to make our offerings as innovative as possible. Some examples are the violet-coloured ube latte, the black sesame toast with black sesame ice cream and topped with 24K edible gold, ube leche flan (a sugar-free purple yam cake topped with crème caramel) and more, all of which have customers returning repeatedly,” says Montenegro.
Tea lovers too!
While most of the office crowd latch on to the coffee culture, there are many who adore tea these days. “As simple as it sounds, preparing the perfect cup of tea is not an easy feat,” says Gaurav Joshi, Business Director, Uncle Tea.
“While the famous karak chai is a hot favourite in the UAE, we at Uncle Tea serve 20 different varieties of tea including hot and cold options. Every tea served has a unique style and method ensuring that our customers get a different and memorable experience.”
Any particular tea drinks that appeal to the office crowd? “While a good karak chai will always be a crowd-puller, there are other varieties that are catching pace too,” says Joshi. “The new bubble tea is being enjoyed by a lot of our customers who look for colder alternatives to their favourite beverage. Tandoori chai is our signature chai that is steeped in a clay pot for flavouring and further served in a custom-made clay kulhad.”