Seattle’s coffee history probably started with one sleepy guy who needed a really well-crafted latte to get his serotonin on the upswing, since from October to May, we all live in a gray wasteland of rain, fog, and tech companies. But if you’re not a 9-to-5’er at Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, Nordstrom, Expedia, Costco, Zillow, or (insert Fortune 500 software giant here), you’re probably a freelancer. And while doing your taxes blows, at least you live in the country’s coffee shop capital - there are a ridiculous number of good places to get work done.
We’re not going to send you to places like the Starbucks Reserve where you can get swallowed up by loud tourists knocking back coffee flights as you pay seven dollars for a carbonated mint cold brew that will give you heart palpitations and murder your productivity. These are local hangouts with free wifi and plentiful outlets, where you can buzz on some great espresso and plug your laptop in for the long haul. Just save your receipt from that cortado - you can probably write it off as a business expense on TurboTax.
This guide is presented in partnership with Delta Air Lines, which serves more international destinations out of Sea-Tac than any other airline.
Anchored Ship is excellent if you need a chill place to park it and get piles of work done, but also like changing up the scenery once in awhile without having to relocate to another coffee shop. We realize that’s specific, but if you’re a person who posts up at coffee shops on the regular, you know this is a very real problem. This place is tiny, but there are window-facing bar seats if you like working while people-watching, a back room full of tables for the heads-down crowd, and if you’re lucky to find it unoccupied, a micro-loft with string lights and a sofa. Their almond milk lattes are so good we wished they were sold as IV drips, and if writer’s block has you feeling tense and you need a spa break, there’s a (very nice) nail salon called Juniper through a secret hallway in the back.
Union Coffee keeps things simple. The design is minimal, the entire menu fits on a little black felt board, and the inside looks like your Amazonian friend’s open one-bedroom: white walls, giant windows, and a ton of succulents. The music isn’t too loud, the baristas are actually nice to you, and the upstairs balcony bar is the perfect spot to post up with a mug of chai and a slice of creme fraiche coffee cake and finally finish that writing piece on great coffee shops to get work done in Seattle. This example is purely hypothetical and definitely not happening right now as you read this.
Preserve and Gather58 NW 85th St
Right in the middle of a residential area where people settle down (or just settle) is Preserve and Gather, a cool coffee spot if you find yourself in Greenwood suburbia. But it’s also a spot worth going out of the way for. Not only is it decorated like a community lounge in that new high rise you wish you lived in, but they also make a mean cortado. Make sure you buy a jar of housemade jam to take home with you so that when you stay up all night finishing your report or whatever it is that you do for money, breakfast is taken care of - all you have to do is make toast. Good luck.
If you’ve ever tried to get work done at Barnes and Noble and ended up reading 16 issues of Family Circle magazine/using your pocket change to impulse-order a slice of peanut butter cheesecake only to return home and nap through your deadline, Little Oddfellows is the coffee shop for you. It’s inside Elliott Bay Book Company, but removed from the bookcase-perusing action so you won’t get distracted. Their espresso is from Cafè Vita (which means it’ll be great), and you won’t have to worry about starving yourself in order to power through the entire day - they have paninis, avocado toast, and pastries galore, plus beer and wine to either reward yourself afterwards, or use to boost your creativity before you get down to business. We don’t judge - whatever gets your word count up.
If you’re a person who prioritizes quality coffee above everything else, Milstead & Co. is your spot. They serve an excellent cup of coffee, and also sell bags of Intelligentsia beans to-go for when you procrastinate and need to finish up at your kitchen table later at 3am. Note: most of the seating is communal, so use this place if you’re great at tuning out all other humans, or you need a place for your team to work.
A weird little dark place with brick walls, pokèmon-themed latte specials, bookcases, and vintage tchotchkes of things like skulls and old film cameras. If you’re not caught here during one of their movie screening/life-drawing/game night events, it’s actually a surprisingly peaceful spot to grab an iced mocha and get through your workload. If you tackle everything you needed to (or even if you didn’t), convince your friends to meet you at Fonda La Catrina down the street for tacos and margaritas. If you drive, save time for parking - it’s not great over there.
We typically try to avoid superlatives, but Vivace probably makes the best espresso in the city. It’s the kind of place that puts a lot of care into their coffee - your to-go cup will even involve foam art. They’ll even replace your ristretto shot for free when you drop it all over the sidewalk (this has certainly not happened recently to us). For your early morning starts, grab some Sunrise Tacos for breakfast here and get to work - there’s a room in the back that’s specifically meant for quiet time. Also, the proximity to Bait Shop is very ideal when happy hour is necessary post-hustle.
Fremont Coffee Company is perfect for when you really want to work from home, but you need to actually leave the house in order to get anything done. It’s an old rickety house with a porch, a hodgepodge seating arrangements, carpets, and really good coffee. Whether you want a simple americano or a cherry coconut milk latte, you probably won’t want to leave, much like your own apartment.
Maybe coffee’s not your thing. Miro Tea is the leaf-only club where beans aren’t cool enough to hang, and we’re okay with it. Get a personal hot kettle, or a glass of hibiscus-mint iced tea lemonade (air conditioning in liquid form). There are a lot of seats, baguette sandwiches, and if you can’t type one word without a latte in you, the matcha one is great.
The worst part about freelancing is making a plan to dive into a massive to-do list the same day that the sun decides to dive into its own to-do list, which happened to consist of “shine today.” General Porpoise is where to spend the day inside without missing out on the sun. Massive windows let in an insane amount of light in the space you really only can describe as cute, their coffee is sourced from places other than Seattle (which is a nice change of pace), and most importantly, the homemade filled doughnuts will blow your mind (get the lemon curd). Note: General Porpoise closes at 3pm, so get there early.
Fix is a great neighborhood place to grab a macchiato and work when you need to be surrounded by activity - people are always coming in and out of here, and there are bar seats, lower table seats, and an outdoor patio overlooking Greenlake. The best part is that if you need a break, there’s a three-mile lakeside walk waiting for you right outside the door. Just hope that it doesn’t start raining while you’re halfway through.
Fact: when it comes to working on your laptop, tables are objectively inferior to booths. And Cafè Solstice is full of them. They’re open from 6:30am to midnight, so it’s perfect for camping out and not leaving until your mug is refilled four times over and your slate is clean. Solstice has a full menu (sandwiches, salads, soups) so you won’t be hungry, and a full bar so you won’t be bored.