Writers who did their best work in cafes

Wednesday, 25 April, 2018


The invigorating smell of roasted beans, the soothing buzz of people coming and going, the creative boost with every shot of liquid inspiration . . . all great reasons for writing a literary masterpiece in a coffee shop! In honour of World Book Day, we thought we’d share some of the famous authors who wrote their best works in coffee shops.


Ernest Hemingway

“The marble-topped tables, the smell of café cremes, the smell of early morning sweeping out and mopping and luck were all you needed.” – A Moveable Feast

Hemingway wrote much of his Paris memoir, A Moveable Feast, at a café near his apartment in Montparnasse – La Closerie des Lilas, which is still open today. He would arrive with notebooks, pencils and a pencil sharpener, and spend his mornings working and people-watching. Paris’ café culture featured prominently in the book and the people he encountered often became characters in his books.


J.K Rowling

“It's no secret that the best place to write, in my opinion, is in a café. You don't have to make your own coffee, you don't have to feel like you're in solitary confinement and if you have writer's block, you can get up and walk to the next café while giving your batteries time to recharge and brain time to think.” – J.K Rowling

The Elephant House in Edinburgh prides itself on being “the birthplace of Harry Potter”, since it was where Rowling started writing the Harry Potter series. She would sit in the back room, overlooking Edinburgh Castle, penning her first drafts of what would become a worldwide sensation.


Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre

Simone de Beauvoir and her lover, Jean-Paul Sartre, were regulars at the Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots in Saint-Germain, Paris. A serious pair; theirs was a relationship of intellect and intense conversation. They would sit at separate tables, diligently working on their writing. Sartre produced his 1943 book, Being and Nothingness, during this time, and de Beauvoir published her first fictional novel, She Came to Stay, also in 1943. As a result, couple’s existentialist philosophies and fame attracted the French intelligentsia to cafés where they were regulars.


Malcolm Gladwell

Non-fiction author of The Tipping Point and Blink, Malcolm Gladwell, is well-known for writing in coffee shops. He claims he’s a public writer, whose natural habitat is the coffee shop.


If you think you have a bestseller in you, try writing at a coffee shop. If it worked for famous authors from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Gertrude Stein, it will probably work for you!

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