When You Sit and Work in a Cafe, Do You Need to Buy More?

Fielding your questions about dining out in 21st-century Bay Area restaurants. Have one? Email me.

It's not unrare to settle down in a cafe in San Francisco, look around, and realize that every person around you is staring into a laptop with a glowing apple on its lid. (The liberal elite: such conformists!) This week's etiquette question was voiced by L.T.:

How often in an internet cafe should you buy a new coffee/pastry while you use their internet for hours and hours?

L.T., as a restless writer who spends an awful lot of time working in cafes, I feel you. I find writing more productive when I can make faces into my screen and swear to myself in front of an audience that is not my refrigerator.

A few years ago, there was a movement to “reclaim cafe culture” and disconnect the laptop in favor of promoting “conversation” and “community.” This high-minded stance is why Ritual (wi-fi: yes) gets so much more of my money than Four Barrel (wi-fi: sneer). Smart cafes acknowledge that their afternoon traffic is heavily bulked up by people like you and me.

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