November 2008

Written by Lori Thiessen

Since I’ve been feeling under the weather for lo, these many weeks it seems, health or lack of health has been much on my mind.

As a café commuter, trying to stay healthy can be difficult. If you spend a lot of your time drinking coffee and eating café food, chances are you aren’t getting the full nutrients that you need, especially at this nasty, flu-y time of year.

A friend of mine and I have been moaning at each other that even though we are grown women, we still can’t get our health act together. I know that you probably feel the same. We all know all the rules for good health but we just can’t seem to put ‘em into play.

Just for good measure, here are some of the rules and some ways of using them.

  • Eat breakfast.

This is one of my major stumbling blocks. One way of making it happen: Invite a friend over or out for breakfast. Doesn’t need to be of Iron Chef quality, just some fruit, yoghurt and that morning pick-me-up.

  • Eat at regular intervals.

Another of my major stumbling blocks. If you don’t eat at regular intervals, your daily blood sugar levels resemble a very exciting ride at Disneyland.Don’t do it.

Type II adult diabetes isn’t any fun, kids, and the number of us with this disease just increases every year.

Keep an organic snack bar with you, a thermos of something (soup etc.), and perhaps an apple. You may even want to set a timer to remind yourself to eat. You’ve got a PDA – so use it already!

  • Drink Water – lots of it!

We all know that drinking water is critical to good health. We also know that caffeine acts as a diuretic. Even though we love (need) our coffee boost to get us through the day, it’s important to drink water (or juice or herbal tea) to keep us hydrated. Dried up brain cells don’t produce a lot of quality work.

  • Fruits and veggies

Café food is tasty, heaven knows. There’s a spinach/feta cheese pastry (not spanakopita but I love those too) that’s just dynamite! Despite the fact that there is spinach in it, I think that the cheese and pastry pretty much nullify any spinachy goodness remaining.

Most café foods are like this, very tasty but not really nutritious. When you eat one of those wonderful gastronomic delectations, pull out a baggy of veggies. Make sure that you do buy something from the café before you do this. Or order a fresh veggie sandwich, if it’s available.

Here are a couple of resources that may help you to develop that healthy glow you’ve always wanted.

Canada’s Food Guide

Canadian Diabetes Association

Q: What strategies do you use to stay healthy while living the café commuter life?

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll save your seat until next time!


Written by Lori Thiessen

In the months that I have been working on the “Coffee Shop Office” project, I’ve collected a few books, lots of articles and a need for more space plus a place to make and receive a few more calls.

So what’s the next step when hanging out at your regular coffee shop office just isn’t cutting it anymore?

There are these nifty co-working spaces like The Network Hub or Workspace here in Vancouver. Or for a cheap alternative, you can try your local library and see if you can rent or reserve a study room for a few hours.

I did try the library scene for a while and it seemed to suit. It was quiet. There was plenty of desk space and if Google failed to answer my question, then a helpful librarian was there to provide it.

But there were a couple of things wrong with the scenario. If I wanted to go to the loo, then I’d have to pack everything up and take it with me. When I left, I’d have to pack everything up and take it with me.

I’ve got a strong back, lord knows, but even I was starting to have aching shoulders from the amount of stuff I was hefting around.

So I looked into renting a little office space. Poking around on Craigslist, brought me to One Stop Creative Home Buyers who were renting out a couple of empty desks in their downtown office.

For quite a reasonable price (for downtown office space), I got a workstation, internet connection, kitchen sharing privileges, cleaning service and oh, best of all, sharing office space with a group of wonderfully friendly people and the super cute office dog, Lewis.

So I get to go to an office every day and pass a happy word or two with kind people, play with the dog and I leave my stuff there so I don’t have to haul it around all the time. It’s peaceful with a large, clean surface to work on. Staples has a store just across the street from my office so if I need anything, it’s handy. The main drag, Granville Street, is not far away either.

I’ve been working out of this space for a couple of months now and it’s working out well. Gregg and I still meet at the coffee shop where it all began, Esquires (West 16th and Oak), for planning sessions.

Really, I’m not replacing my coffee shop office so much as adding to it.

Q: Have you ever thought of renting an office space or workspace? Why? When? Where did you do it?

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll save your seat until next time!

Written by Lori Thiessen

Remember when you would go to summer camp and there would be a list of things to bring with you? The same idea occurred to me when I think about my life as a café commuter.

I have been accused on many occasions for over packing and I stand guilty as charged. However, I do think there is something to be said for being well-prepared for all of life’s little eventualities.

Here’s the basic list that I’ve concocted.

  • Laptop bag
  • Laptop and battery
  • Extension cord (very handy for reaching those out of the way outlets)
  • Cell phone or equivalent (be sure to use it with courtesy for others around you)
  • Business cards or personal cards (networking, networking, networking)
  • Pen and paper (when puzzling things out, I like old-fashioned pen and paper)
  • Means of paying for coffee etc
  • Coins for tipping the barista
  • Any additional files
  • USB key
  • Soapless hand cleanser or handiwipes (before you eat that muffin with your hands that have been, god knows where)
  • Travel mug (save the environment and maybe some money)
  • Your manners

For me, the last item is the most important. I’m happy to report that manners do seem to be on the rise but keep practicing them.

The only other item that I might wish to add is a small stationery kit of paper clips, a stapler, and some cello-tape, post-it notes, and extra pens/pencils. But I’m a stationery freak so most people will ignore this.

Keeping your laptop bag in readiness for setting up your café commuter camp will help you stay focused and organized.

Q: What do you carry with you when you work out of a café? What would you add or subtract from the list above?

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll save your seat until next time!

Written by Lori Thiessen

Though we have now entered the wireless age, some of us still need wires and outlets from time to time. So you may hear, in perfect innocence and politeness, the title question being asked in cafes or coffee shops.

While enjoying a delightful cup of coffee with a charming friend, I was witness today to what can only be described as good, old-fashioned, Sesame Street inspired cooperation in the Prado Cafe on Commercial Drive.

A gentleman cafe commuter was attempting to plug in his laptop’s battery, but there wasn’t an outlet close to where he was sitting. Trailing his white extension cord behind him like a pet, this gentleman began his hunt for the elusive outlet.

He soon discovered that the closest plug was quite a distance away and already in use by another gentleman. What to do?

With courtesy on all sides, a solution was reached. The man with the extension cord would plug in the outlet and the other gentleman would plug into one of the outlet connectors on the cord. Problem solved.

Seizing the opportunity to join this electrical harmony, a young woman asked if it would be alright if she plugged in as well. Her request was granted and a very happy three-way energy flow was achieved.

It was a heart-warming sight to behold, and oh, do I wish I had brought my camera! 🙂

Q: What outlet adventures have you encountered on your travels as a cafe commuter?

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll save your seat until next time!

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta


Gregg Taylor here with an entry about my recent holiday in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It was my first visit to PV, and was it ever beautiful! Hot days, balmy nights, and beautiful warm water – what more could one ask for? Well how about a great coffee shop office away from home!

In Puerto Vallarta, just a couple blocks from my hotel, I found Dee’s Coffee Company. Located centrally in Old Town close to the beach, shops and restaurants, Dee’s serves a great cup of coffee, yummy snacks, food, and free wireless access for anyone who stops by.

Dee, who started her shop over 4 years ago, is originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She’s one of the many Canadian (and American) transplants I met on my trip who fell in love with PV and the tropical climate. I had a chance to talk to Dee about PV, cafes and café commuting. It turns out that Dee was a trend setter in the local area, being one of the first cafes to offer free wireless internet service to customers. Her customers include local entrepreneurs and professionals who use her space as an alternate workspace, and travelers on holiday who need to stay tuned-in to their business or work projects while away. Since I had my camera with me, here are a few pictures including one of Dee and a café commuter customer.

Dee at her cafe with a cafe commuter

Dee at her cafe with a cafe commuter

Dee s Coffee Company

Dee s Coffee Company

Puerto Vallarta has a full complement of traditional Internet Cafes that charge for internet access using their terminals Dee’s free wireless access didn’t sit well with many of these existing shops initially, however there seems to be a spot in the marketplace for them all. While Dee does have a couple terminals for customer use, most of her customers bring along their own laptops and WIFI enabled smart-phones. The internet cafes that I saw were still full of client surfing the web and accessing their email using webmail. In fact, I had to use one when I lost my bank card and had to quickly look up my Canadian bank’s card cancellation phone number (note to self: keep your bank card in your wallet, not your swim shorts!)

So I’m looking to get back to PV soon, and am mulling over how to transplant my own business and work there for at least part of the year!

Dee s sign post

Dee s sign post

Q: When you travel, how do you stay connected – WIFI and your laptop, or a terminal in an Internet Café?

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll save your seat until next time!

Written by Lori Thiessen

When you are cycling around on a damp, drizzly, grey November day in Vancouver, coffee becomes a welcome, well, fuel for the soul.

November 17 – 23rd is Vancouver Bike to Work Week and October 8th was Victoria’s Bike to Work Day. Both events feature coffee as part of the incentive to get people out of their cars and into the saddle.

In Vancouver, the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition has set up commuter stations all over the city and the stations offer hot coffee, pastries, prize draws and information on workshops focusing on how to cycle safely on the Wet Coast in winter.

Victoria’s Bike to Work Day and the late spring Bike to Work Week (June 2 – June 8th) has Starbucks as a sponsor and Starbucks provides free coffee at their morning celebration station.

The Victoria Bike to Work Week also snagged a chocolate sponsor. Now that’s some top level thinking going on.

If you really want to take being a café commuter to a whole new, green level, then you might want to think about cycling to your local coffee shop.

Q: Do you bike to your local coffee shop office?

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll save your seat until next time!

Congratulations to Rob in Ontario!

He is Coffee Shop Office Survey’s first prize draw winner of a $25 gift certificate to a coffee shop of his choice.

In his response to the question why do you choose to work in a coffee shop, Rob, a busy professional, said,

At times, working from home is less productive due to the tug of dishes, laundry, vaccuming, lawncare…”

Gregg and I would like to thank everyone who filled out the survey. We really appreciate you taking time out from your busy lives to share with us your coffee shop office experiences.

Think that you’ve lost out on winning? Don’t despair. The survey will be running for a few more months with a prize draw each and every month.

Please share the opportunity to win a $25 gift certificate to the coffee shop of your choice by telling your network of folks about our survey.

Thanks again for your continuing support of this project!

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