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 Santa Barbara > Community > Best Coffee Shops for Writers

What makes a coffee shop good for a writer?  Good coffee and a congenial staff are a given.  Santa Barbara has many coffee shops that fit this bill but aren't necessarily good for writing.  

- Good spots to write – be it a novel, a poem, a journal entry or a card to your niece –  scream, “Linger.”   Key features are space, a laid back atmosphere and other lingerers.  

- Students and laptops are usually a good sign that lingering is permitted.  

- The coffee shop also needs enough light to see by and music that is soothing but not distracting. 

Writer’s Etiquette – 
Be an asset to your chosen coffee shop.
Don’t write your novel during the lunch rush
or linger  too long if all the  tables are taken
and people are cruising looking for a place to sit.  Go when a little  bench warming is considered a good thing.  At lunch you’re taking up valuable
real estate but at 2:30 p.m. you’re keeping the
place from looking like a mortuary.

So, having said that, here’s our list of the top five coffee shops for writing in Santa Barbara.

Coffee Cat
(Corner of Anapamu & Anacapa)
Without a doubt, one of the finest places –period - to sit with a cup of joe, a bagel, a notebook and one of those really fun jelly pens.   Almost every Sunday morning writers hustle for one of the booths by the window.  It must be the light or maybe the slightly urban atmosphere.  Coffee Cat also has enough space so a little lingering isn’t a bad thing.  A large latte is usually good for a half-dozen poems or journal pages if the mood is just right.

Daily Grind
(Corner of Mission and De la Vina) 
Indoor and outdoor seating in abundance, lots of coffee varieties and late night hours make this another local favorite.  This isn’t a contemplative journal writing kind of place though.  It lends itself to writing high-energy things like romance novels and campy westerns.  It might be the surf theme or possibly the Mission location.     

Santa Barbara Roasting Company
(Lower State right near the freeway) 
Combine the charm and good taste of locally roasted beans with a hint of salt air and who wouldn’t be put in the mood to write.   This place is oddly hidden in its high-profile spot but well worth the hunt.  It’s right next to the highway, but the industrial feel of the décor suits it.   

Goleta Coffee Company
(Shopping center at Turnpike and Hollister)
Speaking of Goleta if you get the urge for some evening writing, this is a great spot to linger.  Since it’s so close to the UCSB you may have to wrangle a tired student for a couch.  The homey, living room-like atmosphere makes it a great haunt for smoothing your transitions and un-dangling your participles.

Sojourner Coffeehouse
(Canon Perdido next to Post Office)
From the window you have a view of the Presidio and it has an old world convoluted kind of charm.  If your goal is writing, stay away at lunch because they’re also a health food restaurant and can get very busy. (If your goal is lunch – go.  The food is good, too.)  However, this is a charming place to spend a sunny Santa Barbara afternoon with your journal.

Writer’s Tip:  “Sitting Duck” is restaurant-speak for a
patron that nurses a cup of coffee for a very long time. 
The term c
an be derogatory when the staff feels you’re 
interfering with the flow of business.  Sitting Ducks who leave
larger than average tips, however, don’t become
Lame Ducks next time they visit.

Sharianne Falter Staff Writer