There are dozens of little tools aimed at authors and writers, promising to help them focus or even write better texts. How are they supposed to work, and can writers actually benefit? Rebekka is investigating and will occasionally blog here about her findings.

1. “Morning Murmur”

James Joyce is said to have written parts of his novel “Ulysses” in a coffee shop in Triest, Italy. He and many other great 19th/20th century writers spent considerable time in literary cafés and bars. Did they just want to escape their shabby rooms to be warm and comfortable, or was it because the chatter and laughter was helpful for their creativity and focus? Coffitivity is built on the belief that the latter can work. There’s no café within reach? With Coffitivity, you can still have its soundtrack.

I started with “Morning Murmur”, which sounds like a bunch of college students chatting and babbling about all sorts of things, but of course you won’t understand what they say exactly. Just one thing is striking: No one is laughing loudly, no one is getting upset, no one is noisily directing his mate to the table back in the corner. Whatever is their secret, they sound by all means pleasingly relaxed.

2. “Lunchtime Chatter”

On the Coffitivity website there are 3 free coffeeshop sounds you can listen to. In my opinion, the differences between them are negligible. It would be interesting to compare with the listed premium sounds, at least their names – “Paris Paradise”, “Brazil Bistro” and “Texas Teahouse” – sound promising. To unlock these, you have to sign up with Facebook and… I don’t know, because it doesn’t work. The button “Go Premium” is leading nowhere. For the time being I’ll have to take my chances with the college students.

3. “University Undertones”

At first I did not expect Coffitivity to work well for me, because I’ve always preferred a rather quiet surrounding for writing. Actually I feel quite on the right place for that in an office with developers. They mostly type and make a nerdy joke every now and then.

But I was surprised: I did find the background murmur beneficial for my concentration. On Coffitivity’s website they’re citing from a peer-reviewed study of the University of Chicago: “A moderate level of ambient noise is conducive to creative cognition.” To add my piece of evidence: Yes, I was able to seal off and work more focused. This worked well for around two hours, then I felt I needed some rest. But even this may rather be a question of taste. While I would neither spend entire days in coffeeshops, some writers did – and wrote some of the most renowned works of literature.

So here’s the bottom line: Background chatter can actually boost your concentration! Go to your local coffeeshop and get a hot latte on top – or just listen to Coffitivity.

Available online on You can also download the free Coffitivity iOS app.