Step inside any Starbucks in Boston and you’ll be witness to many locals ‘working’ away on their laptops, sometimes making it hard to get a seat. Free Wi-Fi was once considered to be an integral part of coffee shops, as important as tables or napkins. Now step into Francesca’s Cafe, or The Buttery Cafe in Boston’s South End and you will notice the absence of the freelance workers. These shops do not offer Wi-Fi and have no plans to do so.
The struggle grows between offering Wi-Fi to those who wish to grab a cup of joe and do some work, and those who want to just sit and relax. Nevin Martell of Washington City Paper has talked with shop owners and patrons to find out what happens when coffee shops turn off the Wi-Fi.
Let us know what you think! Should every coffee shop offer free Wi-Fi? Has the clicker clatter of laptops at Starbucks become an annoyance? Do you rely on these areas to get some work done outside the office?