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Do cafe owners mind when customers linger for hours? Their honest answers

By Yoniel Acebuche Published Nov 13, 2023 5:32 pm Updated Nov 13, 2023 9:09 pm

Apart from lounging with friends or taking a few minutes for a quick cup of coffee, cafes have certainly become the go-to place for Pinoys who want to study and work outside their own homes.

Cafes offer a perfect solution for those seeking a productive and vibrant atmosphere for both studying and working. Strategically located in streets or areas frequented by people, these shops provide easy access to amenities such as high-speed internet, meeting rooms, and the opportunity to network with other professionals.

Then, of course, there's coffee which you can usually purchase for less than P200 a cup to last you throughout your stay.

However, a certain video featuring Scottish travel vlogger Dale Philip sparked an online debate for criticizing the students who spend hours studying or doing paperwork in coffee shops here in the Philippines.

Philip, who has traveled to over 50 countries, said he "hates" those people who sit in coffee shops with their laptops, doing their homework, and using it as their personal office. The vlogger aired his sentiment as he noticed a long queue in a coffess shop where he was about to get his coffee.

"I would hate to have a business, where people just come and use it as their personal office. Use your WiFi, your electricity, and buy like one coffee," he said.

"Just sit in your house, just sit in your condo, just sit in your hotel room and do your work. Why do you settle in somebody's coffee shop, to do you work with people disturbing you," he continued.

X user, @maroontito, who reposted the video which earned more than 6.7 million views as of writing, wrote his outrage towards Dale.

"The audacity of white people to make a living off of Filipinos while simultaneously criticizing our own culture and social norms. Didn’t even bother blurring their faces. Nakakainit ng dugo," he wrote.

Other X users agreed with Dale and said that coffee shops are, first and foremost, businesses rather than remote workplaces. 

"Imagine, several hours and that's a fact, most of them stay that long with 1 bev and pastries. If they can afford coffee and pastries, why not just invest for a pocket wifi, surely they can afford it," one user wrote.

Meanwhile, there are also those who pointed out that several coffee shops have business models where allowing customers to use their amenities all day long is actually part of their services.

"Plain and simple: PAG DI NAMAN AGAINST STARBUCKS' RULES, IT MEANS OKAY LANG. I've been doing my work in Starbucks for so many years sa iba't ibang branches pero walang ni-isa ang nagbawal sakin na mag work doon bukod sa nagiging friends ko ang mga barista," another X user commented.

Coffee shops as 'conducive learning and coworking spaces'

Among those people who preferred doing school work in coffee shops during college is multimedia artist Erwin Kim Albalate. In his chat with PhilSTAR L!fe, he said that there is a certain comfort and vibe that coffee shops offer that one can’t find at home.

"I guess for the majority of us who don’t really have that personal working space at home, you can easily access that through coffee shops. Not to mention the drinks and pastries you can order while working," he said.

"There’s this sort of 'community' that you know you’re part of where everyone is just working their a** off and not giving a single care on everyone."

He also told L!fe, that as long as a customer paid for the drink, he or she earned the right to do whatever business they need at the shop, given that they also know their limitations to respect others who are working or dining in the cafe as well.

The same thing goes for Lorangely Hernandez, a campus journalist and language major who is an avid customer of coffee shops as they also double as coworking places.

"We, Filipinos, do not have the same conducive and work-friendly situation or areas at home. That’s why co-working spaces, like select coffee shops, are very helpful when it comes to finishing a write-up or any work/ school stuff, one is using the space for," she told L!fe.

"If I don’t find a certain cafe shop peaceful or work-friendly enough, I will move on to another. And if I cannot buy a drink because there are too many people in a certain cafe shop, I can order or buy from another shop. We are all trying to get by, do what you have to do, and finish your loads at the end of the day," she added.

Coffee shop owners weigh in

In 2022, Starbucks Philippines President Noey Lopez echoed the official stance of the global coffee shop chain saying that they don't mind when customers stay for as long as they want even with just a cup of coffee ordered from them. 

The company noted that this is because they want their cafe to be the "third place" customers would prefer to work at, after their homes and offices.

“We strive to create a welcoming environment for all of our customers. We do not have any time limits for being in our stores, and continue to focus on making the Third Place experience for every Starbucks customer,” Starbucks said in a report by The Wall Street Journal in 2009.

Dexter Tan, the owner of Nomu Cafe in Quezon and Makati City, also agreed with this. He told L!fe that they can't refuse to accommodate customers or make them leave, as long as they are not disrupting the overall cafe's operations.

"We can’t refuse to accommodate them or make them leave. Our cafe is open to everyone as long as they are not disrupting other customers or the cafe’s operations."

For Wai Choi, the owner of Daily Habit Cafe in Maginhawa, Quezon City, he intentionally built his cafe with the amenities needed by students to dine and use the area for long hours. And this is despite the fact that it could slowdown the traffic in his store.

"When I opened my cafe, I knew from the start that it was gonna be surrounded by different schools. I made sure that we have outlets and fast wifi for our customers. As a business owner, of course, I’m aware how it slows down the overall turnover and other customers have to wait for available seats," he told L!fe.

Pam Marabe, co-owner of Joe Mama’s Coffee and Donuts in Makati, meanwhile said that customer service is her top priority—as long as they are paying customers, it doesn't bother her if they stay longer. 

"This shows customers from the outside two things: my products are great and/or my store’s ambiance is cozy enough for people to stay long. On the bright side, this could even attract new customers out of curiosity. I would simply ask the customers if they have additional orders," she said.

Ana Lorenzana de Ocampo, the co-owner of Wildflour, which now has over 16 branches nationwide and several restaurant concept brands and sub-brands, understands that customers have different preferences. This is why they aim to provide a welcoming atmosphere for everyone.

"It's part of the café experience that we strive to balance the needs of all our customers. Being a café, we get customers with different wants; it is part of doing business and a part of the Wildflour ethos to make sure we cater to all the people that walk through our doors," she told L!fe.

Ana continued, "Whether it’s a quick pastry to-go, a cup of coffee to accompany a full afternoon of meetings, or a site to study for the day, Wildflour can be that place for you." (With reports from Brooke Villanueva)