Indie Coffee Shops to Perch & Work
There’s something singularly compelling about a great coffee shop—particularly when you’re trying to pound out an overdue novel/screenplay/thesis/PowerPoint something. The presence of other procrastinators, the really good coffee, the ambient buzz of community are inherently appealing. It’s not all that surprising that the number of work-friendly cafés is constantly on the rise, so we’ve updated our guide to reflect the latest and greatest spots in ten major cities, whether you drop in for quick macchiato or set up shop for the afternoon. (We’ve noted when they don’t offer internet, a blessing for those who can’t get off email. You know who you are.)
Chalait1216 Broadway, Nomad | 212.929.0266
New York is no stranger to coffee shops and teahouses, but Chalait is the first one to feature such a matcha-heavy menu. For the uninitiated, our favorite matcha latte—creamy and not too bitter—is a good intro to this potent, antioxidant-rich green tea. For nonbelievers, there’s Counter Culture coffee and a variety of loose-leaf teas. While there is no Wi-Fi, it's a good spot to get some work done.
Kaffe 1668275 Greenwich St., Tribeca | 212.693.3750
If you're meeting friends here, keep in mind that there are actually two Kaffe 1668s in Tribeca, just a handful of blocks from each other. If they're looking to own a neighborhood, they've certainly done it, as they're the best spots south of Canal for an almond milk latte (or fresh juice). Another boon: There's Wi-Fi and plenty of seating, particularly at the location in upper Tribeca. They just opened a location in Midtown, too.
La Colombe319 Church St., Tribeca | 212.343.1515
With cafés in four major cities, La Colombe is looking to build a little empire—which makes total sense. The in-house beans are some of New York City's best, and the café itself is serene and beautiful. Locations vary in size (some have tables where you could totally pull out a laptop), and you can usually find a place to at least perch for a bit. This outpost is the most spacious; it's good for writing or reading but doesn't offer Wi-Fi.
Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee222 Front St., South Street Seaport | 212.227.7631
We’re Jack’s Coffee loyalists in Amagansett, and you can find all the same magic—perfectly roasted beans, egg breakfast sandwiches, simple salads, a smattering of good juices—at the slightly-above-street-level space in the Seaport. There are also two locations in the West Village. While this outpost doesn't have Wi-Fi, it's a low-key place to get non-internet-dependent work done.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters18 W. 29th St., Nomad
This Stumptown outpost is the one you want to go to if you’re in it for the long haul. It’s conveniently set up right next to the lobby of the Ace Hotel, which means access to food from the lobby restaurant and your pick of comfy couch and chair seating; communal tables come with personal outlets. There’s a second location in Greenwich Village.
Marlton Hotel Espresso Bar5 W. 8th St., West Village | 212.321.0100
The gorgeous Marlton Hotel lobby happens to be home to a great espresso bar. Here, you'll find a simple but perfectly executed offering of coffee drinks, teas, and snacks (get the beet chips and one of the salads). While tables tend to go fast, you can usually grab a couch or armchair.
Happy Bones394 Broome St., Nolita | 212.673.3754
Here's the thing: Happy Bones is actually tiny, but because most people come for to-go drinks, the tables are almost always empty. The two guys who run this place keep the menu and the décor blessedly simple, so you're guaranteed both a great cup of coffee and a peaceful atmosphere every time.
The Vale Collective113 N. 7th St., Gowanus
Vale can't be described as any one thing since it is a perky boutique, art gallery, coffee shop, and backyard garden all in one. What's really special though, is that it does all four things really well, particularly the coffee shop part. Grab a cup of Birch Coffee and pick between a street-facing window seat or the aforementioned garden (the Wi-Fi totally holds up back there).
Culture 36247 W. 36th St., Garment District
The garment district isn’t exactly known for a stellar specialty coffee scene, so the fact that there are two excellent options a mere block from each other is pretty great. Culture Espresso is the original, but it’s snug, which means you might have to wait for a seat. The newer and significantly bigger Culture 36 is ideal for getting stuff done, if you don’t mind the semiloud music. Both locations brew Heart Coffee Roasters coffee and serve Culture's famous house-baked chocolate chip cookies (they sell out fast so come on the earlier side).
Whynot Coffee175 Orchard St., Lower East Side | 646.682.9065
What's extra special about this Lower East Side standby is that it has a lot of respect for personal space—there are individual-size tables lining the walls with just enough room for a laptop and a cup of coffee (a giant leather couch is also available if you’re okay with sharing). In the warmer months, the large French doors open up to create a garage-like indoor/outdoor space.
Toby’s Estate125 N. 6th St., Williamsburg | 347.586.0063
This is one of few places around that roasts their own beans, which are responsibly sourced from all over the globe. Meanwhile all four Toby’s Estate locations (the other three are spread out between Flatiron, the West Village, and Midtown) are consistently simple and comfortable in design—think communal tables, couches, and excellent lighting. Yes, it’s a great set-up for work, but also worth stopping by on your day off for a simple and hearty lunch. (They also offer a random assortment of classes in everything from art to cupping.)
Maman239 Centre St., Soho | 212.226.0700
While you probably don't want to bring too much web-dependent work since the Wi-Fi can get choppy if the café is packed (it's small and gets full on weekends), this is probably the prettiest spot in the city for an afternoon of writing or reading. While the French-inflected menu is full of quiches, soups, and salads, it's the cookies—arguably the best brain food ever—that get the most praise. And the coffee game is pretty strong, too.
Little Skips941 Willoughby Ave., Brooklyn | 929.210.8101
At this point, Brooklyn could probably give Seattle a run for its money when it comes to the number of coffee shops per capita, and Little Skips is easily one of the best. It's especially great for those who like semiloud background music, as it's an undeniable part of the hipster package. Thai iced tea—an equally potent alternative to a latte—is on the menu in addition to all the usual suspects if you’re feeling adventurous. Fair warning: Outlets are a limited commodity here, so come fully charged just in case. The original outpost is on Willoughby Avenue.
O Cafe482 6th Ave., Greenwich Village | 212.229.2233
Good Brazilian pão de queijo is weirdly hard to come by in the city, but anyone who's had a taste of these gluten-free cheesy puffs will tell you that sniffing them out is a worthwhile cause. Not only does this Greenwich Village café churn out really good Brazilian pastries; it also sources coffee almost exclusively from Brazil, South America, and Africa. What’s more, the space itself is comfortable and welcoming, so you never feel like you and your laptop are unwanted.
Citizens of Gramercy362 2nd Ave., Gramercy | 646.476.8416
Like so many of the city’s best new cafés, this Gramercy spot was opened by a team of Aussies in a neighborhood that could do with a couple more stellar cafés (there’s another in Chelsea). The food skews healthy, and we love the all-day breakfast—especially the smoked salmon eggs, which come with a roasted beet labneh. The coffee house scene transitions to wine and cocktails at night, so after working for a few hours during the day, you won’t have to go far to unwind with a different sort of beverage.
Devoción69 Grand St., Williamsburg | 718.285.6180
A massive roaster occupies the front half of this vast Williamsburg café, adding an industrial vibe to this otherwise cheerful, sunlight-flooded brick space near the East River. Arrive early to snag a seat (this is freelancer HQ for the surrounding blocks, and tables go quickly), but once you’re in, there’s strong Wi-Fi and stronger coffee. We especially appreciate the daily newspapers and magazines available for catching up on the news the old-school way.
Dweebs1434 Dekalb Ave., Bushwick | 347.413.5272
In this part of Bushwick, Dweebs (on the corner of Dekalb and Wilson) acts as the neighborhood’s communal office, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a small, flower-filled patio to draw in the area’s creative minds. There are outlets everywhere and a printer that actually works. And as any local will tell you: The bagels and coffee are the best you’ll find off the Jefferson L train stop. Photo courtesy of Bridget Kenny.