Brooklyn Heights Coffee Shop Asks for One Drink per Hour of Wifi Use

Vineapple [71 Pineapple Street] is a welcome addition to Brooklyn Heights and the first comfortable cafe in the North Heights to provide free wi-fi access. That gambit has been very successful so far for the coffee shop in the sense that it’s a great traffic builder. But we’ve noticed that some folks take advantage of the situation, camping out for hours nursing one bevvy.

Last month, the popular social media reporting site Mashable ran a post about the etiquette of working out of coffee shops. Baristas, owners, entrepreneurs and managers offered their opinion on what the right mix of camping and purchase should be for people working out of their favorite coffee shop.

So, is where does Vineapple’s 1 drink = 1 hour wifi fit in? Find out after the jump.

The coffee shop folks interviewed for Mashable’s story, originally posted on American Express’ Open Forum, were from established and thriving cafes. As you’ll see in this excerpt they also suggest buying some food and/or tipping heavily. Adjusting things a bit to consider that Vineapple’s just opened and currently offers a limited selection of food, 1 drink = 1 hour appears to be in the zone.

Mashable: With air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, comfy couches, potpourried restrooms and the smell of espresso in the air, a coffee shop can seem like an answered prayer for the bootstrapping entrepreneur. Gratuitous amenities, though, should be appreciated in the form of making purchases and leaving tips for the baristas. The big question, though, is how much should an entrepreneur shell out in return?

Isaf, Pelsinger, Phillips and Dustman all told Mashable that one drink per 2-3 hours seems to be the sweet spot. And four hours seems to be the tipping point — if the shop is full and you haven’t bought anything in about four hours, you should give up your seat to paying customers, say Dunning and Dustman.

Phillips also notes that if you’re camping out at the coffee shop during lunch time, it’s a good idea to eat lunch there.

If your bladder just can’t handle a drink every two hours, Shipley says you can make up for it by tipping well:

“We always make sure to buy drinks, I usually only get two a day, and I’ll often get something to eat. For me, the biggest thing is to tip — I tip very heavily on every transaction, so the baristas are getting paid. This helps the café owners, too, since they obviously have happier and better-paid baristas. And it makes the whole environment very friendly, as the baristas pretty quickly learn to love me and my monsters. (Also, don’t tell anyone, but they’ll start our drinks early when they see us in line.)”

“If you can sit around our shop for eight hours and not be tempted to drink or eat anything, we’re probably not doing it right,” Kasperowicz adds.

What do you think?

Photo by Mrs. Fink

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  • Ari

    If these place want more turnover for the tables, they should just limit/disable patron’s access to the power outlets. Or install WIFI jammers or meters to curb people’s easy access to sit on their laptops all day in hopes that other people notice them sitting on their laptops all day. What’s the point of being a writer if no one can see you sitting there writing all day? :)

  • DrewB

    Seems more than reasonable. I am amazed that these coffee shops put up with people staying there all day and treating the place like it is their office, all for the price of one cup of coffee. I appreciate that Iris Cafe has tried to limit the times that wifi uses commandeer tables.

  • Heightsman

    I don’t blame them at all. They are a business not a free lounge. I can’t stand people who camp out.

  • Andrew

    It’s a tough balance. It seems like Vineapple has it right with encouraging patrons to support the business and not just take advantage of the space, but also recognizing that people appreciate a comfy place to sit and compute without a draconian NO LAPTOPS policy. And, frankly, I want Vineapple to succeed. It’s a comfy place, they make good coffee*, they have beer and wine and it’s a great addition to the neighborhood.

    *However, I’m not a fan of cold-brewed Stumptown iced coffee. Vineapple is not the first place that I’ve had it and didn’t particularly like it. Stumptown coffee is great hot. But something about the earthiness of the coffee and the flavors that cold-brewing brings out just doesn’t work for me.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Personally, I think 1 hour per coffee is fair. It also seems that the best seating spots are always taken by those who camp out.

    Vineapple, I think you got it right.

  • dorachild

    I also think that 1 coffee per hour is more than fair. There is no such thing as a free lunch. If you take advantage of the free Wi-Fi and hang out at the place you should pay for it.

  • bob fenn

    this is a business…install meters and let them pay for their time

  • EHinBH

    Ha! This place is going to go out of business.

  • WillowtownCop

    How will the policy be enforced? Rules are useless unless you’re prepared to enforce them.

  • Anon

    I think 1 drink ever few hours is good like mashabale found.

    If someone is actually using the place as their “office” and just buying a small iced coffee every hour, then they’re spending $24/day or around $500 a month if they go there every day. Seems as though if every seat/table was taken and used this way, Vineapple would be making quite a profit.

  • Arch Stanton

    Poking the offending customer with a pointed stick ought to do the trick.

  • Jorale-man

    I spent a couple hours working on my laptop in Vineapple on Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t overly crowded I don’t think i was taking up seat that would otherwise go to people want to sit and chat or read. If it were really crowded I might have left sooner. That said, I also saw fit to buy a more expensive coffee drink and a bagel while leaving a nice tip for the barista.

    It’s definitely a balancing act. I do think that part of the reason for coffee shops is to come and work, talk, read and lounge. But more than a couple hours is pushing it.

  • Monty

    I really like this place. On weekend mornings, there are mostly families so I can get a bagel with my daughter and let her draw on the brick with chalk. Later in the day, it becomes laptop city. I enjoy Tazza most of the time, but they have an uneasy detente with both families and laptop users. Vineapple is a lot friendlier.

  • Scott B

    One drink every few hours (as Mashable suggests) is what I’d prefer as well. I live 2 doors down from Vineapple and co-work during the day with some colleagues… and I usually only get ONE drink over about 3 hours. However, I ALSO go in many mornings and get a bagel to go. So, when I park myself in their a couple of hours and do work and only get 1 drink, I feel that I’m covered.

    …on another note, I think that if Vineapple would advertise (social media, etc.), they’d get ALOT more customers. It’s a great spot that, if more people knew about, would be constantly packed! I try to tweet about the place as often as I can… but, how hard would it be for them to take reciprocal action and get their own social buzz going? I mean, look at their twitter site, they haven’t tweeted once since they opened!!/VineappleCafe – I tweet every time I go about what a great spot it is to co-work and grab some coffee… and my tweets have led to numerous people asking me about the place. Imagine what they could do if they took the reigns and participated in some basic social media interaction themselves.

  • my2cents

    I don’t think it’s asking too much to buy a drink every hour or so as a courtesy. I agree with Andrew about the stumptown iced coffee. I find it incredibly bitter –like drinking 90% cacao. I don’t like to put a ton of milk, but with the stumptown I have to in order to make it drinkable.

  • Ryan Michael Jones

    I wouldn’t mind so much if the drinks and sandwiches were better. I don’t think it’s the Stumptown coffee, per say. I think it’s how they brew it and that they let it sit. Iris Cafe brews Stumptown and it’s like night and day from Vineapple.

    It also kind of rubs me the wrong way that their sandwiches…err…sandwich sliders… consist of ordering a catering tray from Lassen & Hennings two blocks over and then jacking up the price tenfold. Oh, and the iced tea? Grocery store bought Lipton Tea bags served in a very small cup primarily consisting of ice for $2.50. Just barely enough to wash down the $2.50 Cliff Bar – one of the few snack options.

    I want Vineapple to stay in business and am more than willing to drop some money for some free wi fi. I’ve dropped at least $10 every time I’ve been in for no more than 2 hrs.

    It’s their menu (and early closing hours) that’s potentially going to put them out of business.

  • Andrew Porter

    I know a LOT of professional fiction writers, and none of them work in a coffee shop or other public setting. Creativity is a lonely job.