Freelancers have been around for, we want to say... millions of years. For instance, the wheel wasn't invented by a bunch of cavemen working for a conglomerate and sharing a cubicle. Those guys worked remotely. They were entrepreneurial. Respect, cavemen.
Also, condolences, cavemen.
Nowadays, however, times are hard for the freelance worker. Apartments in the city are increasingly cramped, and roommates are increasingly listening to Rihanna. (Respect, Rihanna, but we’re actually trying to work.)
That’s where coffee shops come in. But you can’t work at just any coffee shop. Your workspace needs wifi. And a bathroom. Solid menu options don’t hurt, but if a place goes all Marie Antoinette on us and offers only baked things, good vibes could make up for that.
Long live the freelancer. Long live these places, where the freelancer can long loiter.
Feeling the workweek blues? Do you want more from life? Have you come to terms with the fact that you can’t, at present, expect more from life because you have a sh*tload of work to do? Well, you can always take your work to Gotan, a comfy Tribeca spot where the food’s as good as the coffee. Bring your laptop, have a salad, and feel good about the fact that, unlike the employees here, no one’s making you wear a bowtie.
People probably make better choices in Fort Greene. They probably eat right, and they probably don’t read too much into their horoscopes. And when they need somewhere to work, they probably work at Annex; because it’s bright, clean, open, and civilized. Damn, Fort Greene. You really got your sh*t together.
Propeller both looks and feels like a neighborhood spot. What’s more, it’s close to all the action of upper Greenpoint. So the sooner you finish your work, the sooner you can hit up Achilles Heel for a beer, a shot, and some overachieving snap beans.
Let’s say you were taking in the general ambience of 50th and 10th when you realized you had some work to do. That's plausible. Whatever your reason for being in this neck of the woods, pop into Rex. They take their coffee seriously, and their menu offers house-cured gravlax, cauliflower hummus, and a cuban sandwich. Which pretty much makes this place the city’s top destination for whatever kind of fusion that is.
Much like the polar bear, the modern freelancer’s habitat is rapidly shrinking. Which is why Wayside is such a strange blessing. It’s small, but there’s wifi, and it never gets crowded. It’s a tiny patch of pristine polar ice. Also, we know nothing about polar bears.
The bathroom here is nicer and cleaner than most of our apartments. Granted, you don’t know what our apartments look like (they might be disgusting); but trust us, it’s nice. And so is the staff. Opened by a couple of Australian designers, this Williamsburg coffee shop is the perfect place to sit with your laptop and enjoy your life as a dual citizen of The United States and The Adobe Suite (who goes on the occasional Safari).
We can always find a seat here. Plus, they have wifi, a bathroom, and even a bench out front where you can park yourself and catch the summer breeze as it flows down Metropolitan. The breeze smells like garbage, by the way. And it's almost so bad you could see yourself not being nostalgic for it one day.
In the first season of “Master of None,” Aziz Ansari uses a coffee shop’s wifi to audition for a role. He does this at the Think Coffee on Bowery, but, the thing is, that location doesn’t actually have wifi. (Not cool, Aziz.) If you do need the internet, try the Think on Mercer. It gets pretty crowded, but it's the sort of place where you can hang all day.
Wifi, couches, high ceilings - what more do you need? The staff here is friendly, the coffee’s good, and the spacious, backyard feel makes up for the lack of natural light. Grab some vitamin D supplements, ditch the sunscreen, and get to work.
Grounded is the kind of place you stumble upon randomly. It’s on the upper stretch of Jane where the city’s grid turns into dumb improvisational jazz, and it has a cozy neighborhood vibe. They also have wifi and a menu that doesn’t waste your time.
An afternoon at Freehold would feel like vacation if it weren’t always filled with people who definitely also live in Brooklyn. Right off the Williamsburg bridge, it’s a spacious indoor/outdoor cafe/bar designed to feel like a hotel lobby. On Friday nights it’s a frat party, but in the daytime you can sink into a couch and type up your reports or spreadsheets or work on your food blog, or whatever.
The one on Houston recently closed, but the Aroma uptown’s going strong. The space is big, and while it might not be the prettiest, there is (say it with us now) wifi and a bathroom. Also, you get a free chocolate with your coffee, and they’ll stuff any number of things into a croissant for you.
This place should be in Brooklyn or Tribeca, not within spitting distance of Murray Hill. So if you find yourself in the neighborhood, make the most of it. Spend a few hours here, and order anything off the menu. It all looks good. Also, be sure to transition from coffee to rose as the day goes on. Because it’s tacky to drink coffee after noon.
If you can’t afford an office, you could do much worse. Their coffee’s good, and the location is central to everything the Lower East Side has to offer, which is mostly just food and alcohol. The tables along the walls seat two, and they’re perfect for an intimate date with your laptop or smartphone.
When you want to work outdoors, choose Intelligentsia. Grab a coffee, then find a seat in the courtyard outside the surprisingly attractive High Line Hotel. After work, take a stroll on the High Line. It’s the perfect place to get stressed by massive amounts of tourists on a thin strip of renovated railroad. Or, you know, get smashed on tiki drinks at the Rusty Knot. Whatever sounds better.
When a child goes to bed on a quiet block of a quiet street in a small town and dreams of Brooklyn, Devocion is what they dream of. In other words, their shop on Grand has more than one type exposed brick. It also has a skylight and repurposed pipes. But it doesn’t feel precious. Or maybe it does, and you just don’t mind because it feels so good to be working there - at a table by a chest on a rug by a leather sofa that would look nice in an office of your own.
What is a Nordic coffee shop? Apparently it’s a place with beer, blonde wood, barstools, and a boutique in the back. Apparently it’s Budin. A Nordic coffee shop, it seems, is a lot like a Brooklyn coffee shop. What a happy coincidence. Even better, a Nordic coffee shop, with its tall windows and wifi, is a nice place to get some work done.
Gregory’s isn’t cute or quaint or chic or rustic. It’s utilitarian. They have wifi. They have a bathroom. They have tables and chairs and so many pastries you wonder whether the whole thing’s a pastry laundering operation. If you’re working uptown, check out the one on Lex. There’s plenty of room for everyone.
Ground Central isn’t necessarily a destination. It’s where you go when you’re in midtown and you have work to do. Don’t get us wrong, there’s a nice sitting area, and they offer free wifi, but a true destination coffee shop in this neighborhood would need a little something extra. Free coffee, say. Or coffee they pay you to drink (because it’s midtown). But if you’re around, by all means, check it out.
Ground Support isn’t a chain, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like a neighborhood spot. We’re inclined to believe that's because no one actually lives in Soho anymore. Still, if you have to do some work below Houston, the picnic tables here are a viable option.