Why Is Staying At Coffee Shops So Divisive? (And Why We Need More Public Spaces)

Settle in, and drink up.

A recent viral post has people defending those who stay, study, and work in coffee shops or cafés but is also shedding light on the lack of accessible public spaces in the Philippines.

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For yet another time, people just can’t mind their own business. This time, though, a recent viral controversy surrounding people staying at coffee shops for extended periods of time brings forth valuable conversation about café culture, public spaces, and the struggles of living in the Philippines.

In a video posted by @maroontito on X, Scottish content creator and vlogger Dale Philip questions and criticizes the way people were doing their work at a Starbucks in SM City Baguio, on their laptops and writing on papers. Philip disapproved of the practice, citing being turned off by the long queue and not understanding why people need to be at a coffee shop to do their work.

Besides advising him to mind his business regarding the norms and practices of a country he’s merely visiting, users brought to light the contexts and circumstances that prompt people to stay and work at coffee shops—from needing access to the Internet to wanting a change of environment.


“I would hate to have a business where people just come and use it as their personal office,” Philip says in the clip. Although working and studying in cafés isn’t exclusive to the Philippines, coffee shop culture differs across the world (and rules about bringing gadgets or staying differ across coffee shops, too). Coffee shops have actually been linked to productivity, socialization, being a safe space, and more.

Philip goes on to say that people can do the same thing in their homes—but can they really? Living situations aren’t always ideal, and they’re definitely not monolithic. Some people don’t have electricity or available outlets, Internet or calm, safe spaces to work in.

Of course, there’s no denying the issues that come with people staying at coffee shops. Long lines, crowded areas, noise, long waiting times—but if you’re like Philip, aren’t these problems easily remedied? I can choose to go to a different café, and I completely understand that some people need to be there for a myriad of reasons I don’t need to know.

“I don’t understand why people want to do that,” Philip says. Well, again, as plenty of other people brought up, not everyone has access to a consistent, stable Internet connection or a conducive environment for productivity. Coffee shops often provide that for the price of one drink, as well as relaxation, ambiance, and community.

Many Filipinos also don’t have access to an environment where they can be at peace, like in public spaces such as libraries. Even if cafés can be busy and noisy, sometimes it’s the most viable option.

Besides, Starbucks Philippines even went on record saying they don’t really mind people staying for long in their stores. They actually encourage it. Most, if not all, coffee shops and cafés strive for an open, welcoming environment—and that means being hospitable and connected to the community. But of course—echoing Shuri from Black Panther—just because the practice works and the culture is established, doesn’t mean the situation can’t be improved.


Two things to keep in mind—first, we really should mind our own business. If it’s causing no one any harm, it’s really a non-issue for people to stay at coffee shops and make use of what they offer. Second, we really do need more public places, not just where people can do their work and be productive, but also places where people can gather and do activities without the requirement or burden of purchasing something.

Accessibility is also another important concept brought up. People have the right to have access to necessities like electricity and a safe place of comfort, solitude, and productivity. But how many Filipinos actually do?

Letting coffee shops be a place for people to stay, work, and study and advocating for public spaces outside of them where people can do the same can co-exist. These are all vital concerns to consider, and while this whole thing began just out of a divisive post, it’s a good move to keep talking about what needs to be respected, and what needs to change.

Continue Reading: We Really Should Stop Taking Photos And Videos Of Random People In Public