Coffee Houses World Wide Love Hate Relationship with WI-FI Internet Use – Cornwall Ontario – August 16, 2010

Cornwall ON – Coffee.   Millions of people drink it and millions drink it in coffee shops.   Now not everyone uses a drive thru or just hits and runs.    A lot of people like to read, work, or just hang out.   Coffee shops in many ways have replaced bars socially.

In the 90’s and this decade waves of coffee shops sprouted all over the world.  In the US chains like Starbucks became the norm and here in Canada Second Cup’s are all over most cities.   Here in Cornwall Ontario we have a lot of Tim Hortons, but we also have a few budding cafe’s like Cafe Connectionz and Island Ink-jet.  Even Cornwall Square, our downtown mall offers WI-FI.

What was used to lure in customers and hopefully keep them for awhile is Wi-Fi Internet service.  If people are working or playing in the coffee shop they just might buy more coffee and munchies.   It’s led to a revolution in coffee shops that now has led to a new wave of conversation and a reversing of the trend.

In the US many Coffee shops are covering up their electrical outlets; limiting internet use, and in some out right banning computers, cell phones, and even e-readers.   Complaints of one person hogging up a 4 seat table for hours or folks spending too much time nursing a latte have some of the chains revising how they do things.

I know myself I love the versatility of using a cafe for a business meeting or working if I need it.  When the big earthquake hit I was in Ottawa and sought out a Second Cup where I was able to file my story, and do so regularly here in Cornwall.

But times have changed and this battle of internet use in coffee shops has even come under exploration by financial bibles like The Economist.


Most independent and small chain coffeeshops have had a long-running battle between offering Wi-Fi and the consequences. A typical tale from store managers is of patrons who buy a single cup of coffee or tea and blockade a four-seat table for eight or more hours. A space full of such people turns kaffeeklatsch into a silence broken only by the tapping of keyboard keys. In others, however, customers use the network briefly, and turnover is brisk.

What do you think Cornwall and Canada?   How Wi-Fi are you in your life or are your internet needs all moving to iPhones and Blackberries?   You can post your comment below.

please visit some of our amazing local sponsors some of whom offer WIFI!

Cafe ConnectionzLola\'s Island Ink Jet


  1. A comment, short and quick. If your customers want WIFI, why not adapt your environment to meet the demand? However, if your focused on limiting WIFI, follow Bridghead’s lead and offer a complimentary hour, afterwards it’s a paid service.

  2. Author

    There’s a balance that businesses need to find that fits their business model. Wi-Fi is used to attract business. It’s a great tool. I know with our business it’s hundreds of dollars per month in sales when you add in lunches, coffee, meetings, snacks etc, plus it can put a business on the map. What I find interesting reading these stories is that people have lived in cafe’s nursing coffee’s and keeping space tied up for years before the net. Wi-Fi simply is giving people more of a reason to use many of them.

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