A 2012 study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that a moderate level of sound (around 70 decibels) is better for creativity and productivity than lower or higher levels of sound. This is because moderate background sound forces your brain to work slightly harder to get things done, which in turn leads to greater creativity. If your work environment is too quiet or too loud you lose this edge.
Coffee shops seem to exist right around this level of sound, which might explain why so many screenwriters and graduate students do their writing there. A busy coffee shop has enough random background noise to induce this extra focus, and thus help people get things done.
It was with this in mind that a team out of Richmond, Virginia created Coffitivity, a website that plays streams of coffee shop background noise that you can use to boost your own productivity. When you get to the site, you can choose one of six different tracks, such as “Brazil Bistro,” “University Undertones,” or “Morning Murmur,” allowing you to set the kind of ambiance you want. Click play, and you get a constant stream of sounds, with options to pause or set the volume. It’s a simple interface for a simple concept.
The team is working on a premium model, which presumably will allow for more sound options for a subscription fee. There is also an IOS app, which allows you to pipe in your favorite music app so you can have the sensation of listening to music on your headphones in a coffee shop.
If you’re the kind of person who works better in coffee shops, but can’t get away from the desk to go work there, Coffitivity might be the site for you. If you’re struggling to stay productive and need a little boost, give it a try. It’s a different experience than listening to music, and the murmur of customers and moving of chairs is much less distracting. It’s hard to sing along to something like this.