Our little neighborhood is home to a lot of cafes—from your quick go-to spot (that’s you, Cup) to your second-home-away-from home (thank you, Cafe Grumpy) to everything in between. If you’re a freelancer, however, some of the cafes are better for you than others because they consistently offer the essentials (like free WiFi, an empty seat, good coffee, and decent music). Some may have it all but come with baggage (like spotty WiFi, sparse seating, bad music, or lots of babies). And some don’t have anything to offer you (except for good coffee on your day off). So, where should you go? Check out this quick freelancers’ guide to see what fits your vibe.
1. Konditori: This Swedish cafe does bagels right—if you can get there early enough before they sell out of everything except the pumpernickel. The drip coffee is good and they do the punch card thing, which makes you feel like one day soon, if you keep coming back, you’ll be able to get a “free” large mocha with an extra shot. The WiFi dips in and out, however, and the space is medium-sized so getting a spot is not always guaranteed. If you do manage to sit down, there are outlets against the walls in the back, and they’ve recently expanded their menu this year to include some tasty lunch food options. Pros: Low baby factor, low bad music factor, decent bathroom. Cons: If you have to upload photos for a project, think twice before walking over here.
687 Manhattan Avenue
2. Cafe Grumpy: On a regular Monday afternoon, this cafe is a freelancers’ mecca. There are anywhere from ten to twenty laptops open here at any time, all manned by determined people trying to hack it in this city. The space is huge (ever since they moved the roasting operation down the street and opened up the back to patrons) so you are almost always guaranteed a seat next to an outlet, which is a godsend if your laptop needs constant juice. In recent weeks, they have been warring with Verizon and their WiFi has been spotty, but they’re now back in the game with a new router and a new password. Pros: Great coffee, good bathroom, low bad music factor, really low baby factor, super friendly staff. Cons: Cookies and spinach & feta turnovers will have to tide you over until you go somewhere else for lunch.
193 Meserole Avenue
3. Sweet Fox Cafe: This small French cafe opened within the past year and is stocked with delicious (homemade) croissants and pain au chocolats, plus (addicting) ham and cheese sandwiches, salads, and a menu of lunch options that all taste pretty great. It sees lots of people dipping in for their morning cup of coffee before work and then calms down in the early afternoon. If you’re vying for a seat, the space fits all of probably seven people (3 at the bar stools, 4 around the coffee table) and has one outlet, so get there early and then you’re golden—the WiFi has a great signal and the baby factor is almost zero. Pros: Amazing food, friendly staff, homemade croissants. Cons: The sketchy bathroom downstairs.
142 Nassau Avenue
4. Cafe Edna: This U-shaped cafe has all the elements to be great—ample seating, a kitchen, a bathroom, windows, a patio space in the back—but hasn’t been able to find its groove in the past two years since it morphed (under new management) from Cafe Royal to Cafe Edna. They went from not serving food (save for pastries) to serving food (which was great) to now not serving food again (save for the just ‘okay’ pastries). The coffee has always been on the expensive side and, without free and/or consistent WiFi, it’s hard to come here to get any real work done…unless you’re still doing all of your writing by hand. Pros: Their liquor license. Cons: All of the above.
195 Nassau Avenue
5. Charlotte Patisserie: From the outside, this place looks small. On the inside—once you make it past the delicious pastries/register area—it’s huge. There’s enough indoor seating for maybe thirty and outdoor seating for even more. You’re almost always guaranteed a space (although not always next to an outlet), and the WiFi signal here has never failed me. In addition to the pastries, this cafe serves an array of breakfast and lunch options and wine and beer. Pros: The coffee is good (they even do the punch cards), the food is made fresh, the bathroom is spacious, and the staff is friendly. Cons: On certain days, there’s a high screaming baby factor and, on all days, the music is run through a free Pandora account so you get loud ads every few minutes.
596 Manhattan Avenue
6. Botica & Company: This apothecary slash juice bar slash cafe is also a relatively new Greenpoint addition and something of a hidden gem. The space looks small—the front of the cafe seats four (and has an outlet)—but the back has some additional seating (with another outlet) where hardly anyone ever sits. Maybe the lack of windows back there keeps people away? In any case, the Pros: the coffee is good, the music is always good (some of the friendly staff are musicians), the bathroom is clean, and the WiFi signal is great. Cons: The healthy (and tasty) food runs on the expensive side.
607 Manhattan Avenue
7. Enid’s: For a restaurant that is actually a neighborhood favorite for brunch/lunch/dinner/everything, Enid’s does a great job of doubling as a cafe. You can come in with your laptop at all hours during the workweek and the staff is super friendly and lets you do your work without trying to free up the table (This place is so big, it’s never full on, say, a Tuesday afternoon). The menu is reasonably priced, and I’ve both had to pay for coffee refills and have gotten free refills—so I’m still unsure what the official policy on that is. Recently, however, the WiFi has been spotty unless you’re sitting close to the router. Pros: Delicious food, good coffee, two (dark) bathrooms Cons: Two outlets and, at certain (unpredictable) hours, a high baby/toddler factor.
560 Manhattan Avenue
8. Uro Cafe: This is going to be a limited review because I’ve only managed to come here three times—since it’s cash only…and I never carry cash…and my bank would charge me two bucks to use Uro’s ATM. All three times, when I’ve had cash, the service was friendly, the WiFi was free, and the coffee was good. However, I’ve had to walk out of Uro early each time because their (metal) music was blaring too loudly or because of a screaming baby (the space is super tiny, so a yelling baby is really yelling right next to you). Pros: I managed to get a seat each time (next to an outlet) Cons: No bathroom.
277 Driggs Avenue
9. Cacao Market: As a freelancer, you can only come here to do work if you’re absolutely/positively sure that you’re not going to get derailed by the chocolate wonderland that is the front of this space. It smells mouthwatering in here: of cacao, of sweets, of sugar, of goodness, of childhood…you see what I mean. The back of this space contains a long table, of the sort that you’d find in a grand library, and the room has an impressive wooden bookcase crammed with books. And, the staff is genuinely nice. Pros: The Cacao Market serves a full lunch/breakfast menu, has a clean bathroom, and has free Wifi. Cons: There are no windows in the back and only two outlets.
67 Guernsey Street
10. Propeller Coffee: This is also going to be a limited review because I’ve only been here a handful of times and it’s been hit or miss each time. There’s free WiFi, but it’s on the slow side (so think twice if you have to upload pictures), and there’s lots of (cool, retro) seating but the space was almost at capacity each time. You have to strike quickly if you see someone getting ready to get up to leave. The space is really cute, the bathroom looks like it could belong to your great aunt, and there are two big windows in the back that give the cafe lots of natural light. Pros: Good coffee, well-stocked bathroom, nice deco. Cons: The baristas are on the surly side.
984 Manhattan Avenue