Working for yourself can get rather mundane when you’re forced to stare at the same wall of your bedroom every day. Of course, the flexibility of working from home is a fantastic part of being a freelancer, but as anyone in my situation knows, finding a local coffee shop to use for the occasional change of scenery is an essential part of staying sane.
I’ve recently taken up residence in a small box (more commonly known as a standard New York City apartment) in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and have spent the past two months staking out the area to find the perfect coffee shop to fill my freelancing needs.
It seems that I’m far from the only one who has partaken in this search – cafes in this area are packed with others who have already claimed a chair in their regular hang out. As freelancers, we find ourselves magnetised towards places that feature speedy WiFi and a generous supply of power outlets, and when we fall upon a venue that also includes coffee to die for, we can consider this the freelancer’s version of heaven.
After some extensive quality testing involving the consumption of a large volume of coffee, here are the final results for my top 5 coffee shops for freelancers in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
It’s no surprise that Spreadhouse Coffee comes up as number one in my list. The seating choices are far superior to nearby cafes; there are individual working tables, a large communal table, comfortable sofas, and hanging from the ceiling are two wicker egg chairs (because really, who doesn’t love sitting in these).
If you dislike being tightly packed into a cafe where your every move could potentially topple someone’s coffee, then Spreadhouse is the perfect choice for you. This spacious room is adorned with patterned rugs, exposed pipework, and unfinished wooden shelving with some succulents perched delicately on top.
As a regular visitor to this cafe, I’ll admit that I spent many weeks wondering why there were people that walked in and out of a strange wooden hobbit-like house structure situated at the back of the room. Curiosity eventually got the better of me so I asked the barista what the deal was with the fairytale doors, and discovered that Spreadhouse doubles as a media studio situated behind the cafe. Mystery solved.
If we’re comparing cafes that cater specifically to freelancers, then Whynot coffee would win the competition hands down. It’s retro-style interior has individual tables lining each wall, each with an accessible power outlet. Finally, somewhere that understands our addiction to power-draining electronic gadgets.
The funky portraits on the walls and vintage coffee machine are both pretty darn great, but one of best things about this cafe is the record player which consistently churns out some old school tunes to bop along to while you work.
3. The Bean
While The Bean is technically in East Village, there are plenty of Lower East Siders willing to make the two block walk from Houston Street (and did I mention that there’s some sweet street art along the way?).
One of it’s best features is the selection of pop-rock music ranging from the 1980s to 2010s, which is usually the kind that you just can’t help but sing along to in your head.
The large windows allow the sun to stream in during the morning and afternoon, which can be problematic when it comes to reflections on laptop screens but it sure is nice to get all snug on the pillowed bench with sunlight warming your back.
This cafe also takes the award for most eclectic decor. A weird but wonderful combination of mosaics, paintings, patterns, and colours are plastered over nearly every surface. If you’re having a gloomy day, The Bean is sure to be a mood booster.
Other locations: Williamsburg, Union Square, East Village
This Swedish gem is one of the smallest cafes on my list, but it still comes in as a favourite as far as great food and coffee goes. The drool-worthy treats that sit beside the counter (including plenty of vegan options) are a constant temptation, and the guys that make your coffee are guaranteed to make you a fantastic latte. Really, they’re amazing.
The atmosphere is also a winner with some soft background music and an exposed brick interior lined with ever-changing pop art. If you can count yourself as a fan of people watching, get a prime viewing position by choosing a seat at the bar along the window. It’s not creepy, I swear.
Other locations: Cobble Hill, Prospect Heights, Green Point, Park Slope
5. Pause Cafe
This has got to be the cosiest cafe in Manhattan. A big claim, I know, but in all seriousness – walking through the door of Pause Cafe feels alarmingly close to entering your Grandmother’s living room. The Moroccan-influenced decor is accentuated with a floral cushioned bench seat, a china tea set display, and mosaic table tops.
Once inside, the smells of freshly brewed European-style espresso is enough to make any coffee fanatic thirsty. Add a cinnamon bun to your order, take a seat, and you’re all set for a perfect afternoon of freelancing.
Visit A Globe Well Traveled for more tips on living as a freelancer in New York City and abroad. If you have any coffee shops to add to this list, please share them with us in the comments!
Wishing you could have a taste of one of these NYC cafes but not traveling to the city soon? Get on Grabr today and place and order! Travelers from New York can bring you coffee beans and snacks from these local spots.