Over the last five years, I have spent a good deal of my time at cafes, hunched over my laptop or notebook- editing, designing ,sometimes pinning away to my hearts content and doing some research online. But generally, I come to these cafes turned personal offices, (hence the term “coffice”) to get some real work done, to actually make some progress on whatever project I find myself working on. A coffice just helps me zone in on the task at hand and keeps me from napping too much in a day ( the case when I tend to work at my little home office. Having a bed a few feet away from you is just too tempting!) or chatting too much with my coworkers at the office where I used to work. Freelancing takes a lot of grit and self motivation. Actually making an effort to get your butt out to your coffice of choice and paying for your daily cup just sets the tone for a day of productivity.
While a lot of co-working spaces are good for getting stuff done at your own time, I could never commit to one as my shooting schedule almost never allowed me to stay in one place for more than a month. I’d like to think of myself as a digital nomad (a term that I like to use, so I don’t feel too bad about spending a lot of my time in front of a computer! Lol )-I take my work with me wherever I go. I spent most of my working life in Manila, where I used to live. The city is crawling with tons of cafes with coffice potential but I always used the Starbucks right below our apartment because really, it had everything I ever needed to get my butt to work. It met all of my basic coffice requirements. What those are, we shall discuss below. Let’s go.
The basic elements that make up a good coffice:
1.) Big windows / a skylight / a space that lets in a good amount of natural light – Nothing like some good old sunlight to perk you up and get your ready for some serious work. I cannot seem to function well in a dimly lit environment. I just end up really sleepy! Plus , sitting close to a window allows you to look outside or at some greenery so you can rest those eyes.
2.) A power source – Because you need to keep your laptop charged for those long work stretches. This isn’t a necessity when your doing unplugged / analog work like painting and writing by hand or if you’re intending to work on your computer only for a short while.
3.) Decent/ good coffee- I’m not a coffee snob so it really doesn’t take much for me to be happy. While I appreciate a really good long black, a regular cup that’ll give me that coffee smell I love and my regular caffeine fix without tasting like cigarette butts in hot water is fine with me.
4.) Good meals that won’t leave you broke – If you’re planning to pull an all day work spree,you’ll need some food to go with your coffee. Pick a place with reasonably priced meals unless you plan to shell out more than what you’re actually earning with the work you’re doing at the coffice. Budgeting is key.
3.) A clean in- store or nearby restroom – Because after all that caffeine, you’ll need to pee. A place without a toilet nearby is a deal breaker for a frequent pee-er like me.
4.) Wifi- This isn’t at the top of my list personally but necessary for a lot of freelancers. Sometimes the absence of an internet connection serves me well and keeps me away form unnecessary Instagram scrolling sprees. But when emails need to be sent and files uploaded, a strong wifi connection is a must.
5.) Friendly servers who won’t shoo you away – Make sure you don’t overstay your welcome. Let’s face it, not all cafes are for working. When you’re staying for more than 2 hours , the place is packed, a line is forming outside and the baristas start asking you if want anything else, it’s time to get up and find a new cafe with more office potential.
When I wasn’t in Manila, I found coffices in different parts of the world where I have been able to get a lot of serious work done. These cafes met my basic coffice standards and made me feel like I was right back at the Starbucks near my apartment (Except that these spaces were waaaay prettier.) I’ve benefited from these coffices on multiple occasions while staying a couple of weeks in a new city. Let’s go over them below. You might find some of your favorite spots on this list!
The Paramount Coffee Project Surry Hills, Syndey Australia
Basics covered: Big windows with natural light , a nearby restroom, wifi, power outlets.
Bonuses: Great coffee and yummy avocado toast, a communal table where a lot of freelancers and students are busy doing their thing (a good sign that you’ve come to the right place to work)
Alamo square, San Francisco California
Basics covered: A skylight , big windows everywhere, a restroom ,good coffee ,wifi , power outlets
Bonuses: A communal table , great smelling pastries , close to the iconic Painted ladies
Intelligentsia Silverlake Los Angeles , California
Basics covered: Lots of natural light , amazing coffee , a nearby restroom.
Bonuses: Great environment and energy, an overall youthful vibe , ideal for meetings and unplugged work, space isn’t suitable for long haul work as the shop tends to get a bit too busy (bring earphones if you tend to get sidetracked by noise or if you have eavesdropping tendencies like me!) , a nearby flower shop Clementine Floralworks ,where you can pick up some blooms for your apartment or Airbnb on your way out.
Gelateria Uli Downtown Los Angeles, California
Basics covered: Some natural light seeping in from the outside skylight , good coffee, a nearby restroom, wifi, power sources
Bonus: Yummy gelatos!
The Classic Downtown Los Angeles , California
Basics covered: Big windows and lots of natural light, power sources , good coffee , an in store restroom, wifi
Downtown Los Angeles , California
Basics covered: Lots of natural light, wifi, a restroom, good coffee , power sources
Bonuses: Communal tables, a lot of greenery, walking distance from The Last bookstore (one of my favorite DTLA spots)
BURO / Livingstone Bakery
Seminyak , Bali Indonesia
Basics covered: Big windows and natural light , wifi , good coffee , yummy pastries
Bonuses: Local products displayed in shop, a shaded outdoor space with greenery
The Pie Hole DTLA Arts district , Los Angeles ,California
Republic of Pie North Hollywood, Los Angeles , California
– These 2 pie places have so much in common aside from having high long haul coffice potential. A lot of people seem to think so too ! If you’re in LA and looking to get productive and have your share of good pie, give these spots a visit.
Basics covered: Abundant natural light , wifi, power sources , restrooms in shop, good coffee .
Bonuses: Great working environment, buzzing with creative energy, excellent pie (yum!), communal tables , both pie places are close to a lot of nice shops.
Milk and Honey
The Camp, Costa Mesa California
Basics covered: Lots of natural light, great coffee, nearby restroom.
Bonuses: Plenty of greenery, inspiring work environment with plants, trailers, caravans and shops right inside The Camp.
The Daily Dose
DTLA Arts District, Los Angeles, California
Basics covered: An abundance of natural light, good coffee, wifi, a nearby restroom
Bonuses: Lots of greenery, a good mix of sunlight and shade, beautiful outdoorsy / rustic aesthetic, walking distance to a lot of nice shops and restaurants in the Arts District . (This is my favourite and most frequented coffice in LA. It’s especially great for unplugged work. In love with how lush and peaceful everything is at the cafe. Gives one tons of inspiration and good vibes.)
Haji Lane , Singapore
Basics covered: Lots of natural light , good coffee, restroom in shop
Bonuses: Communal tables, an upstairs flower shop, surrounded by many stores and restaurants of interest
Little Italy, New York City
Basics covered: Lots of natural light , great coffee, restroom in shop
Bonuses: Communal tables, not too far away from Strand Bookstore and they whip up a mean acai bowl! Yum.
Station 2 , Boracay Island Philippines
Basics covered: Lots of natural light, great coffee, a power source (limited number of outlets) , restroom in shop
Bonuses: Awesome view of the ombre sea, beach breeze over airconditioning, friendly staff, lots of healthy breakfast options
(This spot is on of my favorites on the island. I come here usually post yoga or before sunset to write, put my ideas on paper, fix my schedule and on some days, to relax. If you’re looking for a cafe on the island where you can spend hours doing serious work on your laptop, come to Sunflower Cafe, which isn’t too far away from Dmall. It has all the coffice basics covered. I’ve spent hours and worked on so much stuff in that space. Give it a visit should you find yourself in the isla!)
Cafe La Vida
Basics covered: Everything. I spent 3 full days working on a project in this coffice and I really couldn’t ask for more. Checked off all my above requirements and got some serious work done. It also was a 5 minute walk away from my villa! I felt right at home.
Bonuses: An option to work by the pool and take a dip, should you feel like it . Great service, friendly locals, fun atmosphere, a nice natural breeze, good food.
Downtown Los Angeles, California
Basics covered: Big windows that let in a lot of natural light, good coffee, restroom in shop
Bonuses: Yummy pastries, great service and bright interiors that’ll inspire you to get writing or start planning.
That’s that folks! I hope this rundown of pretty spaces and the above list of coffice requirements helps you find a cafe that you can turn into your own power/productivity spot , wherever in the world you find yourself in.