What Are People Working on in Coffee Shops?

Inside the Deus Ex Machina cafe.
Inside the Deus Ex Machina cafe. (Photo: deuscustoms.com)

Almost every day I sit down in a coffee shop in Venice, California, to work on AboutTheStart.com.

I always wonder what everyone else is doing.

So last Tuesday around 12:30 pm, my friend Andrew and I decided to ask everyone at the Deus Ex Machina coffee shop what they were doing at that exact moment.

As you would imagine, getting out of your chair and interrupting every person you see hard at work is a pretty scary idea and enough to make you doubt if it’s even worth doing.

As a matter of fact, Andrew, who really liked the idea initially, didn’t want to do it once we were at the coffee shop.

Once he saw that the first few people I talked to seemed to be delighted by our experiment, he grabbed his notepad and started asking questions as well (we included a surprising note on our experiment at the end of this article).

Nearly everyone we talked to told us that they too had always wondered what everyone else was doing.

We thought it would be nice to share our findings with you. Here’s a selection of answers:

I’m a production designer currently doing location scouting for a film. I’ve been driving around taking pictures and stopped here to create PDFs with the various locations I’ve found.


I’m a lifestyle and portrait photographer. I come here to do edits. I work better around people.


I’m a student who also started a non-profit to get grants for acrobatic gymnasts who need money for training.


I’m currently helping my friend with his bio.

Cafe in Venice, CA
Cafe in Venice, CA (Photo: deuscustoms.com)

I’m a writer, but I’m working on a construction project for a building I own in Venice, dealing with my contractors.


I’m messaging friends.


I work in tech, and I basically never work in coffee shops.


I’m writing a creative brief (I’m in music marketing). I feel inspired around other people.

Another view inside the cafe.
Another view inside the cafe. (Photo: deuscustoms.com)

I’m a musician and I’m currently invoicing for royalties.


I’m writing a treatment.
(Note: a treatment typically is the step between scene cards and the first draft of a screenplay for a motion picture, television program, or radio play.)


I’m a creative director writing a pitch for a new client (an advertising account).

At work inside the cafe.
At work inside the cafe. (Photo: deuscustoms.com)

I created a company that manufactures and sells TV remotes for the elderlies. I’m currently expanding into Australia and working with a fulfillment center to get everything properly set up.


We are doing social media work for a travel agency we own in Canada.


I manufacture green building materials. I’m responding to emails and chillin’ out.

Patio area
Patio area (Photo: deuscustoms.com)

I’m a comic and a writer. I usually write 3 hours a day. I like coming here because it’s close to home and I’m inspired by being around people.


I’m studying for an exam on brain and behavior. I love the coffee and the environment here.


I work in Fashion Public Relations. I’m pitching stories for a client and working on a report.


I’m studying palm-reading history in my free time. I’m a writer and do teacher tutoring. I try not to work at home because of all the potential distractions.

A few numbers.

Out of all the people we talked to:

What is everyone doing here?
What is everyone doing here? (Photo: infogr.am/Tristan de Montebello)
Friendly. (Photo: infogr.am/Tristan de Montebello)
Confidential (Photo: infogr.am/Tristan de Montebello)
Writers (Photo: infogr.am/Tristan de Montebello)
Wanted to read the article
Wanted to read the article (Photo: infogr.am/Tristan de Montebello)

An unexpected consequence

Something interesting happened that we weren’t expecting.

As I mentioned earlier, our brains were pleading with us not to talk to anyone in the coffee shop.

As soon as we’d finished though, the both of us were BEAMING.

We forgot to take a picture the day of so I shot a selfie and photoshopped Andrew in it (left)
We forgot to take a picture the day of so I shot a selfie and photoshopped Andrew in it (left) (Photo: Tristan de Montebello)

It felt absolutely amazing to connect with all these people who were previously part of the background. We had small conversations, shared many, smiles and laughs, and left the coffee shop overflowing with energy and raw joy.

We kept telling each other:

That was amazing! I love people! This changes everything! I can’t wait to say hi next time I go back!

We’re still processing how fun and unexpectedly pleasant the experience was, but we’re not sure what to do with this information yet.

Andrew Parr is an ex pro golfer & stroke survivor. He’s now dedicated to high level coaching. Podcast host of The Movement www.andrewparr.com. He would love to share with you how he teaches top athletes and olympians how to thrive in the uncomfortable. You can join his private email list here.

Tristan de Montebello created an online course where he teaches adults how to learn guitar in 3 months at http://aboutthestart.com/beginner-guitar-course/. His approach to teaching beginners is unconventional in many ways. He believes beginner guitarists should have as much fun as possible, need to learn actual songs, and should get personal feedback. You can learn more about his 3 month guitar course and approach by joining his private email list here.


UPDATE: Will you be a part of Coffeehouse Connect Week?

Upon your overwhelming requests to push this further. We’re taking this experiment global.
Go to http://join.CoffeehouseConnect.com to learn how to get involved in changing coffee shop culture forever. Join a worldwide movement to find out what others are working on in your favorite coffee shop.

Coffeehouse Connect Week starts May 30.

What Are People Working on in Coffee Shops?