Top tips for enjoying a solo tea/coffee break

Stopping for a coffee or tea break has traditionally been about having time off, a breather to recharge our batteries, in a busy working day. This might still be regular practice in some workplaces. But nowadays, working or not, we treat a tea or coffee break as a treat to be taken at any time of day. And, whilst it’s common to meet friends and catch up at the same time, there’s no reason why we can’t go it alone and have a bit of me-time. Here are a few tips on making the most of just that.

1. Make it part of your ROUTINE, that is on a specific day, at a specific time or place, such as on the way to or home from something that you do regularly: shopping, the gym, a class, rehearsal, volunteering. Expand your routine experiences.

2. Choose the RIGHT venue, one where you feel comfortable, can get a seat and fit in with the other customers. Where they serve tea/coffee as you like it, for example in the right size cup or mug, offering alternatives to cow’s milk and delicious sweet and savoury snacks that take account of common food intolerances and allergies. Location is equally important, whether it’s the view, proximity to trees and/or water or other surroundings, or just being round the corner from another location that is top of your list.

3. Make it a REWARD. Take a break after doing a chore, a boring job or strenuous exercise. We like to feel that we have deserved a treat, and that includes an accompanying cake/biscuit or savoury – well sometimes.

4. Take something with you to READ or do: a book, magazine, crossword, sketch pad or notes for something you are writing. We all have our phones with us most of the time, so you can always compose, reply to or delete a few emails. No-one wants to end up trying to avoid staring at other customers.

5. Even though you are busy minding your own business, make sure that you REACT to events happening around you and with people who engage you in conversation. Don’t turn off completely, be present in the moment and contribute – everyone will have a better experience.

6. Become a RECOGNISED and valued customer, someone who the owners/staff frequently see, sometimes alone but also with a friend or in a group, whether on a specific day, a few times a week or just once a month. Once you are recognised and valued for your custom, for choosing them, their café, everyone benefits and has a better experience – the serving and the served.

When preparing this piece, I went alone as planned to a favourite café in a local park alongside the riverbank (RIGHT location), after a disappointingly frustrating, but necessary trip to town (ROUTINE). I was chuffed that the barista on duty hailed me and said he hadn’t seen me for a few weeks (RECOGNISED). So, I got into conversation with him about International Coffee Day, and asked if I could take a photo of the café for a social media post. He was thrilled about the promotion and even took a few photos of me, amusing me and other customers by selecting the set-up and instructing me on how to pose (REACT)!

As it was a sunny day, I took my coffee and a salted caramel slice (REWARD) outside, where I was able to READ and reply to a few family emails, before getting into conversation with other people at my shared table. All 6 ‘Rs’ ticked off. Result!