12th March , 2014

The lure of independent coffee shops

Independent coffee shops are becoming more and more popular for those that work remotely or those in the creative industry. They're frequented by artists, designers, developers, musicians - pretty much anyone creative. They're a home for the wanderer, a pitstop of the traveller and a staple of the freelancer. Many people that don't travel also love coffee shops, to get away from the hustle and bustle of the daily commute. Some people like to work there, some people like to read there and some people just like to be. Since I've been living in Taiwan for about 4 out of the last 5 months, I've begun to love them too. They seem to be my rock in a country I don't completely belong. So I was wondering to myself... what's the lure of these dainty little establishments?


Most independent cafes feel like they're what your living room should be. Cosy, warm, a full book shelf and art on the walls. In Taiwan the price is one drink and you can stay as long as you like. There's no pressure on you to leave; it's like your own home. I myself spend several hours working in coffee shops daily and the price you pay is a cup of coffee, which you'd probably buy anyway if you were out and about.


Unlike your living room you can meet other interesting people here, there's always new people coming in and out that can enrich your lives and sometimes it's just nice to be around others. Everyone seems to have an interesting story here as they're all attracted to these cosy coffee shops for similar reasons. Some might be aspiring artists, struggling entrepreneurs, weary travellers or just coming in for a drink and to soak in the ambiance.

Great to get work done

I used to freelance from home when I was back in the UK, which is great if you have controlled environment like an office. If you don't you might need to clean you desk to start to work, which is an obstacle to getting started, especially if you set your own schedule. In a coffee shop you always start with a blank slate, a clean desk and refreshments provided. The music is already on and you can just get started without worrying about anything. And one of the best things about it is everyone around you seems to be busy, and there's this pressure you feel to work when everyone around you is also. It's the same reason why people go to libraries to read or to co-working spaces to do side projects.

A base

Most people have offices to go to, or homes be at. Being a traveller and a freelancer (and soon to be entrepreneur) I have neither in Taiwan. Coffee shops are my base, they're a place I know I can go to chill out, kill some time or get some work done.

Own unique character

They all have a rustic, homey character that you can't get anywhere else and definitely not in Starbucks. They are all influenced by art, movements and ideas. And they all seem to have similar values, for instance the one I frequent in Taiwan closed for a day to protest the nukes in Taiwan. Although at the time I was a little pissed I didn't know they were going to be shut, I can respect their values and it adds a personal touch when a coffee shop has personality. Each will represent a little bit about you that you can relate to.