Co-Working Versus Cafés

Considering the Café Calorie Bomb

I’ve written before about the on-going nomad debate: Co-working or “Café Bureau.” In a post on Remoters.net, I compared the price tag of working in a coworking space versus a café in 5 popular digital nomad destinations. From the perspective of value, the options are fairly equal in some parts of the world, and in others there’s a clear winner.

Coworking spaces have fees that can seem high, but if you’re going to sit all day in a café and you aren’t an entitled jerk, you must spend money. Upstanding nomads will argue that you are obligated to make a purchase every few hours. This may mean moving from one café to another, but if you put in a 4- to 8-hour day, you’re looking at more than one or two items.

However, a true analysis of this debate must consider all parts of the cost-benefits equation; your well-being is affected by more than the amount of cash in your pocket.

Most coffeeshops entice customers with sweet and savoury baked goods and fancy hot and cold beverages. You may be able to restrict yourself to black coffee or tea, but if everyone followed that regime, most cafés would fail.

A regular cappuccino comes in around 75 calories and the typical latte is about 150 calories, both depending on size and type of milk. Fancy coffee drinks like frappuccinos or iced mochas are between 300 and 500 calories, depending on their ingredients and size. And if you go in for coffee-free smoothies the yogurt, milk, fruits, chocolate and added sugars quickly add up—even the healthy banana yogurt option is usually a minimum of 200 calories.

A large soft cookie is usually in the range of 300 calories. A butter croissant comes in around 250 calories but add another 100 for a chocolate croissant. A cafe-style brownie can be well over 400 calories, depending on its size and add-ins like chocolate chunks and nuts. A cinnamon roll packs 300 to 500 calories, depending on its size.

Heaven knows that I’m no calorie counter, but calories can help us remember that café menus feature what Cookie Monster would call “sometimes” foods. Working every day in the cookie jar can be problematic. If you stick to a cappuccino and a biscotti, you’re adding 250 calories to your day. A latte and big chewy cookie, you’re up to 450. Treat yourself to an iced café mocha and chocolate croissant, you’re getting into the neighbourhood of over 600 calories. Even a large blueberry muffin on its own is usually over 500 calories.

Only you know if your lifestyle can afford the calorie bomb of sometimes foods every day. But keep in mind that to burn 350 calories, a 150 lbs person has to run or walk about 5 km.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that co-working spaces get a free pass. You still need to eat and drink to get through the day, no matter where you work. At a coworking space you can bring your own food and drink, or make healthy choices for your lunch break. Coworking amenities also usually include free coffee and tea—they may even offer fancy things like hot chocolate and those environmentally disastrous coffee pods, and many have a coffee shop with calorie bombs an arm’s length away. Some coworking places even offer free snacks or have a fully stocked fridge with soda and energy drinks for sale. And don’t forget the weekly free beer night—hard to say no to free beer!

But, the thing about coworking spaces is that you are not obligated to purchase and consume high calorie refreshments of questionable nutritional value. Cafés are temptation-rich environments that start to make café mochas and gooey cheese panini seem like everyday foods.

At a coworking space, it’s much easier to make baked goods and fancy coffees your “sometimes” treat, not an every day habit. Which also leaves you free to indulge in the local delicacies of your current digital nomad home.