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Coffee Chains Ranked By How Easy It Is To Live in The Air Ducts

Did you hear that there’s a recession around the corner? You may be completely broke, but you are going to hang out in cafes, by hook or crook. Sneaking into the air ducts is obviously the most practical solution. You love cost-cutting tips and saving techniques. Now, courtesy of HVAC systems, you can spend hours in your favorite coffee shop – as long as you’re fine with low light, the whirring grind of coffee beans, and frequently shifting temperatures. With a bevy of options, below is a ranking to help guide your next crawling adventure through various coffee franchise ventilation ducts!

20. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

The damn tiny circular pipes here never allow enough space for catching up on all of your work. You try to bring your laptop up, but there’s just never enough room. Plus, people whisper about the swaying air ducts. Better lay low until the staff closes. Then, you are the king of the Coffee Bean.

19. Starbucks

Shoddy standardized air ducts that promise more than they deliver. Jagged interiors, with thick bordered separations and rivets that jut into your thighs while trying to read the collected stories of Anton Chekhov. However, placement is often great for eavesdropping on normies.

18. Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Ah, the legendary Portland brand. The rich aromas waft into the air ducts, but the crawl space is a bit tighter than other chains. That’s the hand-made, twee Portland way. Aesthetics over practicality. Be sure to don your facial piercings and develop a love of vinyl before hiding in this ductwork.

17. Blue Bottle Coffee

Such overrated air ducts, try to avoid them at all costs. Clearly installed by Ductmate Industries (you can tell by the sealant). Hilarious watching customers take out a mortgage to buy a costly iced coffee. Plus, it is always freezing inside. The constant AC means you can barely keep the papers down while scribbling your manifesto.

16. Wawa (Wawa Coffee)

Cold winters and muggy summers make for long uncomfortable stretches in these East Coast vents. You better love the smell of hoagies. You’ll be going home to your family with a thick sandwich stench, if you can pop the vent off or get past the nest of spiders. This seems to be a job by Sheet Metal Connectors, which you recognize from your stalking days because they do commercial AND residential installations.

15. Philz Coffee

Difficult to crawl through these air ducts discreetly, most opting for the circular tunnel style. Corners are your friend but curves mean your sweaty palms just slide on each push forward, the difficulty of keeping the Zippo lit while crawling. Shimmy to the vent for breathing holes. Maybe whisper to an employee asking to sneak you one of their famous iced coffees.

14. PJ’s Coffee

The humidity of New Orleans is enough to keep your apparel in these vents minimal: shorts, a small tee, occasionally just your birthday suit as you catch up on emails in this warm, compressed space. Not great for your health owing to the dust, cramped neck posture and general complete lack of light.

13. Costa Coffee

Costa uses Ductmate Industries branded shafts, which you actually prefer (ideally the larger models). This seems to be a newer installation so be sure to stretch first so you can read Rick Rubin’s memoir next to the scant light slats at either end. Ignore the stale stench of uninspired pastries.

12. McCafé (McDonald’s)

The smell of McDonald’s is tempting for a half hour, until the constant odor of grease and preservatives waft into your personal space. Crawl out and try to avoid a lawsuit after absolutely horrifying an entire family in the bathroom.

11. Tim Hortons

Functional, no-frills air ducts. Sure, they can ventilate the entire store, but this HVAC system is old and shockingly out of date. You’re mostly covered within their stucco ceiling, which is definitely a plus for privacy, but also means you’re operating in complete darkness. Just bring a headlamp, then you should then be all set for some light breaking and entering.

10. Peet’s Coffee

Unfortunately most of the HVAC system here is connected, all going to a central room that is often locked. This forces you to be crafty in Peet’s, risky since you’re actually a fan of this chain and don’t want to be banned. Try to find your “air vent hookup” with an employee. Use coded language about HVAC repair to let them know you’re “on the level,” or just start wearing Carhartt-branded clothes.

9. Seattle’s Best Coffee

The intricate labyrinthine maze of shafts make this air duct system impossible to navigate. Of course this was a Titus HVAC job, you could’ve guessed that with your eyes closed. You’re a fan of the pastries here, so try to find space above the oven (if you can even find it). Keep the volume down as you catch up on Shogun, and throw quarters into the tip jar from above.

8. Caffè Nero

Unfortunately the nearest location has a ventilation system that is always breaking, which means you keep encountering their HVAC repair guy. Occasionally a head pokes up, asking what you’re doing hiding in the air vents. But you’ve become friends with Jeff, occasionally catching up over MMA (his interest) or taxidermy antiquing (your interest). Much better conversation than the dead rats you usually find.

7. 7-Eleven

These convenience stores offer serviceable coffee to go in giant plastic jugs. Luckily there are 7-Elevens all over, most with a similar layout, so you’re able to navigate the entire duct system with relative ease. The entire ductwork job was installed by DuctSox, one of your favorites in the HVAC racket. Plus, this place indulges two of your ultimate vices: scratchers and taquitos. Find your favorite corner of the jointed duct, and catch up on the latest Danielle Steel!

6. It’s A Grind Coffee House

A compact space unwelcoming for long bouts of time hiding in their air conditioning system, clearly manufactured by Lindab (you’re a big fan of their metal fittings). This place has solid breakfast burritos, maybe make one in the after-hours. Be sure to clean up for the morning staff, even though you’ve already been caught on security cameras.

5. Caribou Coffee

These state of the art Nordfab air ducts result in the most comfortable, luxurious experience in your squatting life. Relax your spine in privacy and meditate, knowing all of the camping gear you brought allows you to spend the entire weekend here. Peeing in a mason jar, just like a real caribou in the wild!

4. Dutch Bros. Coffee

You can straight-up get weird in this ductwork. Groove around the pre-insulated panels, leave sweaty imprints. The music is played so loud here so that there’s no way of creating a distraction. Plus you’re pretty sure this was a Kingspan-manufactured installation, so you can shimmy all night in these ducts and snack on stale baked goods! Be careful in the airport locations, best to have an inside hookup for premium air duct access.

3. Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin’ Donuts)

Honestly, your favorite air ducts to hide in. Maybe it was the trips here with your father before he left. Maybe it’s the sugary aroma wafting out the door. Either way, you nearly fall into a comatose state as the glaze and cream wafts up into your nostrils. Let the sugar rush wave over you, murmur in bliss through the vents. Make employees think the store is haunted.

2. La Colombe Coffee Roasters

The unforgiving brick keeps the interiors around the ducts cool. You feel stylish inside this joint, opting to wear your bifocals and quill pen, despite no one able to see you. It is La Colombe, after all. You only read or write there to be seen. The dude in the flannel below you who looks like he has dedicated his life to Kurt Vonnegut knows what you’re talking about.

1. Intelligentsia

Ooh la la! Très chic! For when you want that high-class coffee feel, sneak into the air ducts of Intelligentsia. Even the air ducts are above you, in all aspects, including socially. This is finely-crafted, pretentious industrial construction at its finest. At least you can feel superior to everyone else while here at Intelligentsia, hiding alone, in the dark, in the ceiling. Who’s the “loser” now, dad?!