Photo by Rhonda Felice Photography

Freelance science writer and editor, Kendall Powell covers the realm of biology, from molecules to maternity. She jumped from the lab bench to laptop via the UC, Santa Cruz Science Communication program in 2002. She has written news stories, features and scientist profiles for a variety of publications including the Los Angeles Times, Nature (including Nature Careers), PLoS Biology, Journal of Cell Biology, Science Careers and the HHMI Bulletin. In 2005, Kendall founded SciLance as a way to stay connected to a vibrant community of writers who are as much word nerds as science geeks. She lives near Denver, Colorado with her scientist husband, daughter, son, and two Labradors.

6 responses to “My dirty little Starbucks secret”

  1. Bryn Nelson


    Love this, and it’s so true. Funny, most of my travel food expenses involve a Starbucks. There’s a great coffee shop two blocks from home here in Seattle, so I often spend a few hours at a time there. And once a week, I go to a local co-working spot called Office Nomads to break up my cloistered home office routine. So where do other writers go to preserve their sanity? I’d love to hear other strategies.

  2. Sarah C.P. Williams

    Yes! Me too! I have this amazing home office that I’ve spent hours and $ making completely conducive to working in, and it’s great for interviews and research, but when it comes down to writing, the only place I can really get in the zone is a nearby coffee shop (not a Starbucks, but same idea). Interestingly, the louder and more raucous the coffee shop is, the more writing I seem to get done. The place actually has a two hour limit on wi-fi per purchase, so it gives me a concrete block of time that I feel like I have to really focus and take advantage of before it runs out, and I think that helps a lot (or, I can always buy another coffee for an extra two hours!). I’m ashamed to admit how much money I spend per month there, but I think it boosts my productivity enough that it’s worth it.

    1. Pat Curry

      Sarah, are you okay with have a two-hour limit on the Wi-Fi? I ask because my husband and I are opening a coffee bar and EVERYONE asks us if we’re going to have free Wi-Fi. This is a big issue in the coffee industry because people go to coffee shops, buy a drink and park for hours, taking up all the seats. Other people come in, see that the place is full and turn around and leave. We’ve discussed having metered Wi-Fi but we’re not sure how our customers will react.

      1. Cameron Walker

        Pat, I know you asked Sarah, but I saw this and wanted to chime in. We’ve got a coffee shop here with an hour limit, and it’s kind of nice (and they have a charming little message that pops up, saying it’s a good time to stretch, say hello to your neighbor, go to the bathroom, and perhaps buy another coffee.) It’s still very popular, and I do find myself either not staying too long or, more often, buying a second drink or pastry (I mean, I wanted one anyway, and now I had an excuse…)

      2. Sarah C.P. Williams

        I really don’t mind– as I said, it actually motivates me to work harder and stay more focused than I would with unlimited wi-fi 🙂 They have awesome customer service, good quality coffee, snacks, and an inviting atmosphere, so I keep going back. It’s always packed, so I assume not too many other people mind about the time limit either.

  3. Anne Sasso

    Kendall & Bryn,

    My butt stays firmly parked in my home office. The only time I work elsewhere is when I’m on a business trip or going to a conference or waiting for an appointment with a source or something. Part of the problem is that it’s a good 20-minute drive to the nearest coffee shop, which often feels so enviro uncool (and in mud season, there’s just no way!). The other problem is all that paper that’s spread across my desk when I’m in the throes of a project. And then there’s the thing where I need complete silence when I’m actually writing.

    I tried coffee shops before we moved to Vermont. I’ll admit it was a nice break, especially when I was first adapting to freelancing. But now that I’m more than a decade into it, I prefer to stay home. Plus, it means that I don’t have to worry too much with grooming or proper dress 😉

Leave a Reply