Like many, I find I’m most productive in a place where the Wi-Fi and the coffee are strong. I love hunkering in a coffee shop to work and study, but with two kids in the house and the nearest coffee shop 30 minutes from our rural home, it simply isn’t an option most weeks. But, in the process of balancing work, family and college life, I sometimes just need a quiet place to get it all together. Creating a coffee shop space at home gives me a place to do just that.
For online learners looking to lend something special to those late nights cramming for an exam, or my fellow Ed.D. students who are dog-tired and just trying to power through that last discussion post, here's my advice to turn your study space into your personal coffee shop.
1. Start with some coffee shop musicAmazon Music has a Coffee House Music station that sets the mood and conveniently drowns out the sound of the "My Little Pony" theme song blaring in the other room. If you want a more authentic coffee house sound, try the website Coffitivity. The website has a coffee house sound library that plays ambient music for those missing the sound of coffee grinders and muffled voices. It even has an option to bring the ambiance of a Paris bistro into your home.
2. Clear up the clutter
Set up a space where there aren't life distractions like toys, breakfast dishes or junk mail. For me, it’s on a corner hutch in the dining room, reserved only for my work. Creating a separate space ensures that the time there is special and different from the time I spend in my office.
3. Add personal touchesI’ve added a sweet little shamrock in my grandmother’s glassware, a vintage light and even spruced up the seating with a cool high-top stool I scooped up off the side of the road. With yard sale season in full swing, it’s a great time to scoop a few quirky items with character to make this space your own.
4. Get coffee…ALL the coffeeAs a teacher, I get coffee gift cards for all the holidays. It’s like they know that my blood type is medium roast Arabica. Save those gift cards to treat yourself. Pick up ground coffee from your favorite chain or local coffee shops. When I’m serving as my own barista, I like to have coffee choices to best suit my mood and caffeine needs for the day.
Fun mugs are a great addition to your experience as well. I have a set of "story mugs" – those that remind me of people and places – that encourage me. They are gifts from my late grandparents, souvenirs from trips and some even have motivational quotes engraved on them. Of course, if you have to drink straight out of the pot sometimes to power on through, there is no judgment here!
As a self-proclaimed barista, there are also a couple of coffee shop secrets I’d be remiss not to pass along. Take your favorite coffee creamer and microwave it for about 30 seconds in a jar. Put the lid on and give it a good shake and you’ve got a nice foam for your favorite drink. Or, if a cold brew is more your thing, grab a big jar and add four cups of water and 1 ⅓ cups of coffee grounds. Leave it on the counter for eight hours, then strain. You’ll have four cups of glorious cold brew concentrate to pop in the fridge for any time you need it.
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