An Outlet Of One’s Own

I’ve been wandering from coffee shop to bookstore and back again for the better part of a year now trying to find a place to write for two-to-four hours at a stretch. Finding a spot that offers the perfect combination of funky atmosphere, internet connectivity and semi-edible food has turned out to be quite a challenge.

For writers looking for that perfect after-work coffee shop in which to pen your story, here’s a short list of things to look for:

  • Plenty of Power Outlets – there’s nothing worse than getting into a flow and having your laptop battery die on you.
  • Healthy Food – you’re going to be eating dinner there, so make sure the menu doesn’t consist of cookies and biscotti. Surprisingly, the coffee doesn’t matter one bit.
  • Open Until 11pm or Later – some places close as early as 8pm during the week.
  • Limited “Open Mic” Nights – several great coffee shops have open mic nights every day of the week. This is great if you’re a college kid cruising Facebook and avoiding your classes, but not so awesome if you’re trying to focus how to make your prose sing.
  • Free Wi-Fi – The smarter big-box bookstores like Barnes & Noble are using this as a loss-leader to get bodies in the store. The smaller, independent coffee shops all offer free internet access.
  • Bar Stools – There’s nothing more uncomfortable than sitting in a squat, wooden chair for hours at a time, with your knees jammed up into your chest. Elevated bar stools (like at White Rock Coffee in NE Dallas) are a must for the taller crowd.

So which coffee shop makes the best grade in Dallas? My money’s on White Rock Coffee Shop in Dallas for the barstools, free Wi-Fi and the hours. But they have an open-mic night on every night except for Monday, so I usually try to hit The Pearl Cup during the week (good food, free Wi-Fi … but they close at 9pm on week nights) and WRC on the weekends.