Coffee Shop Culture

By Sara Vigneri

I don’t ask for your pity.  In fact, I know many of you envy me. As a freelancer, I get to work from home in my pajamas, making my own hours. My daughter once said to me, as I shoved her off to school one morning, “you have it so good–I have to go to school and you get to work in your bed!” Full disclaimer: I don’t work in my bed. At least, not if I actually want to get any work done. For that matter, I often have trouble getting any work done if I stay in my house, or in my pajamas. While I love having a job that allows me to work anywhere, I have accepted the fact that it’s quite difficult to work when you are dressed for bed. Anyway, my problem, for which I don’t ask for your pity, is that I have a deadline and I cannot seem to focus on work. So I made a plan to take my work on the road and spend the day in coffee shops, looking for inspiration. Or, to put it bluntly, I needed to force myself to get dressed and out of the house.

8 a.m. The Cosmic Cup Coffee Company

This college coffee shop, located right next to Lafayette in Easton should be bustling with students. But it’s winter break and the shop is filled with a group of retirees who assembled here to gossip and catch up over a good cup of coffee. A friendly man with a mohawk serves me an excellent cup of fair trade coffee and I head to the bar near the window overlooking the street.  I log onto the free Wi-Fi and get to work. The place has a college-y vibe, it’s not fancy but it’s comfortable. They serve basic coffee shop fare like bagels and muffins and the coffee is fresh. A few students come in, conversing loudly about shopping trips and schedules. The energy in the room motivates me to focus on work–but I stop periodically to check in on the conversation going on next to me: “Did Sheila’s daughter manage to make her bus connection and get to Philly on time?” I finish my cup of coffee and head out. (By the way, Sheila’s daughter made the bus.)

12:30 p.m. Bread Box Bakery Café

The caffeine has worn off so I figured it was time to re-fuel. I make my way to the Bread Box Bakery Café in a strip mall on the edge of Allentown. This is less of a coffee shop than a café, which makes it a great place to meet for lunch. They do serve coffee, which is quite tasty and fresh brewed. The room is huge with lots of seating and nice, clean tables as well as a full menu of panini, smoothies, soups and breads that smell heavenly. The owner brings out a tray of fresh baked fluffy soft rolls with fillings like peach, coffee and Boston crème and the sweet smell permeates the air. The café is located near a hospital in a busy strip mall so the clientele seems to consist of people stopping in to pick up lunch. I feel a bit awkward lingering too long as I seem to be the only one in the place mooching on the free Wi-Fi. So I pack up my stuff and search for a smaller spot to work.

1:45 p.m. Baked

There are several spots on Main Street in Emmaus to get a good cup of coffee, but Baked is a nice little place to caffeinate while you work and they have an amazing selection of really good food like fresh salads and organic yogurt. And of course, they have awesome baked goods including organic and gluten-free options. It’s a tiny shop; if more than five or six people decide to sit down it gets crowded. But the smallness is what appeals to me. It’s warm and clean and the décor is uncluttered and minimalist which is ideal for focusing on work. I log in a productive afternoon, but it’s time to pick up the kids from school so I head home.

6:00 p.m. The Wise Bean

The kids are home and dinner is on the table, but I need to keep working and there is zero chance of that happening here. I leave my husband in charge and settle in with another cup of coffee at The Wise Bean in Bethlehem. It’s freezing outside, but the tiny shop entices me inside with the warm smell of roasted beans. The comfy armchair looks inviting, but I head to the bar to set up my laptop and get to work. I’m nearly done, but the shop is closing so I need to find one more refuge before I can call it a day.

7:30 p.m. Hava Java

A local favorite in Allentown, Hava Java is across the street from the Civic Theatre. I order a coffee and park myself at one of the colorfully painted tables. Artwork and books line the walls and coffee cups hang in rows from the ceiling. I log onto the Wi-Fi network to get some work done. This is one of the few coffee shops that remain open late, and a steady stream of people come to socialize — they all seem to know each other. While the shop has switched owners over the years, there is a dedicated group of people that regularly meet here and it makes you feel like you joined a club. I feed off the energy of the artists, theatre-goers and coffee addicts that have assembled here tonight, and finish my work.

11:00 p.m. Home

Lying in bed, wide awake, the caffeine is coursing through my veins and I can feel every swoosh of my pulse as my heart works overtime. This was an extremely productive day, but I think tomorrow I will skip the coffee and allow my body to recover.  Eventually, I manage to drift off to sleep, dreaming of coffee beans.


228 Main Street, Emmaus

Bread Box Bakery Cafe
4620 Broadway, Allentown

Hava Java
526 North 19th Street, Allentown

The Cosmic Cup Coffee Company
520 March Street, Easton

The Wise Bean
634 North New Street, Bethlehem

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