Greenpoint’s Best “Work From Home” Cafés

On this rainy day, rather than trudging around on the subway, don’t you wish you could work from home? Or at least at the local cafe? If you do or plan to in the near future, here is a guide to Greenpoint’s Best “Work From Home” Cafés.

Greenpoint is a veritable hotbed of freelancers and work-from-home individuals who often look for places to get work done outside of the home. While there are now many different offerings and alternatives to our neighborhood Starbucks, we thought it was high time to acknowledge the best places to work from home away from home in Greenpoint.

Café Grumpy's iconic sign

Cafe Grumpy  (193 Meserole Ave.)
Grumpy has been around for nearly ten years and is the go-to coffeehouse for writers and freelancers. Subscribing to the “no-frills” philosophy, Grumpy does not offer much in the way of food or exotic pastries but it covers the basics with coffee and tea drinks and your essential scones and muffins. A hub of bustling creative activity, Grumpy is always near capacity when I’ve dropped in.

Interestingly, Grumpy also roasts their own coffee beans in the back of the shop which adds an aromatic perk to the experience. As expected, there is free Wi-Fi at Cafe Grumpy and the signal is strong throughout. Certainly, there’s something to be said about the “experience” of getting work done at Cafe Grumpy – it may not always be conducive to distraction-free working, but the energy therein is certainly palpable. And as Grumpy’s burgeoning trendiness (thanks GIRLS) may now soon extend to the likes of Times Square, it’s recommended you try the original, Greenpoint-flavored original.

Cafe Royal (195 Nassau Ave.)
Opening in 2010, Cafe Royal has emerged as one of the prime work-from-home spots in Greenpoint. Buying out two storefronts with additional seating in their back yard, there is a friendly vibe to the place that is quite conducive to productivity. Boasting two separate Wi-Fi networks so you always get good signal, there are plenty of power outlets to plug into if your laptop is running out of juice. In addition, Cafe Royal offers some decent food options in case your body fuel begins to run low. Prices are pretty reasonable overall – coffee refills run only a buck a-piece.

(Update: Since writing this, Cafe Royal tweeted us: “We are closed for the next couple of weeks.”)

Cookie Road's new location on Manhattan Ave.

Cookie Road (659 Manhattan Ave.)
After successfully opening their cookie shop on Oak & Franklin in 2009, owners Aneta and Jerzy Szot decided to expand by opening up a coffeehouse and eatery into a spacious storefront last year in the spot previously occupied by the pizzeria Valdiano’s. Cookie Road is one of the more elegantly furnished coffeehouses researched for this article: tables are not too tightly packed together and the food offered is all pretty above average. Naturally, if you’re inclined towards sweets, they’ve got you covered – you can’t got wrong with their deliciously decadent macaroons.

There are no outlets to juice your laptop/phone/tablet at Cookie Road, so be sure to come fully charged. The only other caveat with Cookie Road is that it seems to be a popular place for parents or nannies to bring their kids during the day, which may be a little distracting from your workflow. Recently, Cookie Road started selling beer and has plans to serve drafts and wine in the near future and remain open into the evening hours.

Propeller Coffee, former home of Beata Delicatessen

Propeller Coffee (984 Manhattan Ave)
Stationed in the immediate vicinity of several other Manhattan Ave. coffee hotspots, Propeller distinguishes itself by its unique decorum and heavily 1960’s inspired aesthetic. It’s easy to miss Propeller on first glance, however, due to the sign on the outside which still bears the name of its most recent Polish occupants: “BEATA DELICATESSEN.” The offerings herein are minimal: coffee and espresso drinks and a modest selection of baked goods, but the mellow and easygoing vibe (coupled with a ’60s-jazz-based musical playlist) may offer a pleasant alternative for the work-from-cafe writer. There is no backyard access at present, but I was told that the owners plan to offer that by summer of next year. Propeller is the veritable new kid on the block but has its own distinctive style with a cute aviation theme to its environs (starting with its name). The walls are adorned with black and white photos of stewardesses and airplane pilots taken back in (you guessed it) the 1960’s and nearly all the furniture is vintage.

Champion Coffee – 1108 Manhattan Ave.
Sporting a long and narrow storefront with very limited seating, Champion Coffee specializes in espresso drinks, so if you’re looking for a bottomless cup of joe, you may be better off looking elsewhere. Fortunately, while the weather is nice, the backyard of Champion is among the lovelier backyard areas in Greenpoint and the wi-fi signal was adequate outside – a definite plus! Also, there is a no-smoking policy at Champion for their outdoor seating, so if you’re sensitive to the second-hand smoke, you won’t have to deal with that potential annoyance.

Milk & Roses – 1110 Greenpoint Ave.
One door down from Champion Coffee is Milk & Roses, which has its own distinguished vibe going on. Like Champion, they do not offer traditional drip coffee but instead offer espresso-based drinks. But what they lack in cheap, refillable coffee they make up for in ambience and their beer and wine service. Most striking, however, M&R has a vast library of hardcover books on display that looks like it’s been in place since the 1960’s (they opened in 2010).

In addition, the backyard garden area is pretty spacious and offers plenty of seating options. M&R does have free Wi-Fi and, from what I gleaned, a number of writers were happily pecking away at their keyboards when I visited. Unfortunately, the wi-fi signal is pretty weak out back, so if you need the internets, you will be better off situating yourself up front. M&R’s food offerings are similar to others featured in this piece, but with a bent towards Italian specialties.

Le Gamin on Franklin St.

Le Gamin – 108 Franklin St.
While more of a restaurant in conceit, Le Gamin offers a quiet, distraction-free environment in which to immerse yourself during the daytime. Espresso drinks are available for those seeking the caffeine supplements to the tasks at hand, but note that Le Gamin is table-service establishment so you are likely to run your bill up a little higher than you might at some of the other places mentioned. That said, the food at Le Gamin is top-notch, so that is a big plus in its favor. In addition, the backyard is lovely and, while researching this piece, it was entirely devoid of fellow patrons during late morning hours; however, the Wi-Fi was cutting in and out at best in their outdoor area.

While it would be near impossible to cover every local business that offers a possible “work-from-home” solution, please let us know if we missed anything or feel free to share your own suggestions in the comments below.

About Matt G.

After attending film school in Chicago, Matt moved to NYC in 1998 to start the art rock outfit God The Band, achieving cult notoriety on the local underground music scene. In the years since, he has worked as a video editor, videographer and, occasionally, film director. In 2011, he made his feature debut with the film “Love Stalker.” Matt has been a proud Greenpoint resident for over a decade and has no plans to leave anytime soon. He loves cats.

12 Comments

  1. Kristin says:

    Troost is really great, too — they have an awesome backyard when the weather is nice.

    Reply
  2. Jessica says:

    I just wanted to say that Cookie Road will turn off their internet if they think you’ve been there for too long. Sadly its happened twice to me so I now work out of The Lunchbox which I see missing from your list. Great place, great sandwiches!

    Reply
  3. Matt G. says:

    Jessica – I did get the sense that the Cookie Road owners didn’t really anticipate having customers come in, order a coffee and sit down to surf the internet for a few hours in their place, so it’s unfortunate to hear that’s something they’ve resorted to (and as mentioned, they don’t want people plugging in their laptops hence the lack of active outlets in the seating area). I am a fan of Lunchbox as well, but as they are a smaller space we skipped them for this article. Honorable mention for sure, tho!

    Reply
  4. Sarah says:

    Point Cafe on 924 Manhattan is a GREAT spot too. Lovely staff great coffee and food and quiet enough to concentrate. Often empty, really hope this place sticks around.

    Reply
  5. Patrick says:

    Nobody appreciates you hogging tables all day. The shop owners hate it, other customers hate it. If you really need a space, get an office. There are tons of co-working spaces in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

    Actually just go to Troost.

    Reply
  6. Matt says:

    After considering myself a regular at Cafe Royal, I had a bad experience there and so will take my business elsewhere. Some of the employees are cool, but others would be best served to dial down the condescension and pretension.

    Reply
  7. corrections says:

    Re: Café Royal: “Buying out two storefronts…” Nope, it used to be a U-shaped laundromat.

    Spell Check: BEATA DELICATESSEN (see the photo).

    Reply
  8. Adam says:

    Thanks for this post! I live around the corner from Propellor and never even noticed it open. Went in yesterday to check it out and am so excited for a new neighborhood coffee joint that looks fantastic. I even told them I heard about it from your blog, but they seemed oblivious to it.

    Reply
  9. Lana says:

    Hi Matt, nice post! I’m from NYC and miss the cafes. I’m currently in South Carolina. The area I’m in only has Starbucks or home lol!! I will make sure I put a few of the cafe’s you’ve listed on my list of places to stop by when I come back.

    BTW… Love the blog 🙂

    Reply

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