(Note: I’m terrible. I’m sorry. I now have a goal of once a month and have joined a writing group. This should be doable. I hope you’re all still following!)
Date of Visit: October 9, 2012
Location: 178 N. 10th Street (between Driggs and Bedford)
Weekday Hours: 10am-6pm
Rating: 7 out of 10
Wifi: Free with a password they give you at the counter. It does go in and out quite frequently.
Music: Lots of 80s Whitney Houston. Very odd for a cafe in the middle of hipster Williamsburg.
Restroom: No, and this is where it loses points. You have to go to the bar across the street. Poor planning, if you ask me.
Food and Drink: It also loses points here. The cookies were big and soft and pretty good, but the tea was kind of terrible. It was standard Earl Gray, so I’m not sure what went wrong, but it was very meh. There is a foursquare deal of a free coffee or lemonade for your first check-in. So that’s good.
Crowdedness: Not too bad. No one sitting there when I arrived, and while people came and went during my time there, there was always a free table.
Comfort: standard kitchen-like wooden chairs, mismatched but comfortable. Some of the chairs had arm rests, which you don’t see everyday. Small tables which are impossible to share if you and a friend are both on your computer.
Staff Amiability to Linger: I suspect this place is very new, so they’re looking for patronage. They didn’t mind a bit that I stayed a couple of hours. They were also busy with the new refrigerator they had just received. An exciting endeavor indeed.
Plug Locations: A plug for every table! If that was a presidential campaign slogan you better believe I’d vote for this cafe.
Workability: I got the work I needed to get done, but that was because a) I had been working since 7am and didn’t have much more to do and b) what I did need to do was writing, and I didn’t need the internet. Having incredibly spotty internet was definitely a hindrance to sustained, continuous work.
The Little Extra: I got to work with my friend Chee, which is always a pleasure.
Of Note: A young woman overheard Chee and me discussing Foursquare and specials, and ended up signing up for it then and there. If you follow any of my other writing, you know I’m a fan of social media, and was happy to spread the love.
Overall: I always say that you need three things to work consistently in a cafe: the internet, a plug and a restroom. While the plugs were in abundance, the lack of bathroom and a consistent internet connection were worrisome. I would check them out again, if only because I chalk the internet connectivity to new business kinks that will be ironed out. However, if it continues I will not return again.
Date of Visit: May 2, 2012
Location: 139 8th Avenue (between 16th and 17th Street)
Weekday Hours: 7am-8pm
Rating: 3 out of 10
Wifi: Free, with a password.
Music: It was honestly too loud in there to hear much of the music. Even if they’re not busy.
Restroom: Sort of. They’ll sneak you through the kitchen if they’re not too busy, which is kind of cool but ultimately not, you know?
Food and Drink: Good standard fare of tea. I didn’t eat, but the food did look delicious and made with care. A lot of people came in to get lunch, as it was that time of the day.
Crowdedness: People were in and out, but very few stayed to sit.
Comfort: Not very. The tables were very small and close together. I kind of always felt in the way.
Staff Amiability to Linger: I actually didn’t linger very long, so it’s hard to say.
Plug Locations: One. High up on a wall. Not near a table. So, no.
Workability: Given that this is a blog dedicated to cafes that you can work in, I have to say Paradise Cafe does not live up to its name in that regard. But I suppose no one would patronize if it was called Inferno Cafe. It is one of the worst cafes I have tried to work in. It may be a great place to lunch or people watch, but after about 45 minutes I left for greener pastures (for me, the Tea Set).
The Little Extra: None that I could see.
Of Note: While not good for working, it is good for people watching and hanging around doing nothing.
Overall: Sometimes you need to take the time and just sit and watch people. And Paradise Cafe is perfect for that. But do not bring a computer “just in case” you want to do work. For it will not happen.
Oh yeah, I also recently went to New Orleans, and worked from a cafe there.
Date of Visit: April 13, 2012
Location: 2917 Magazine Street (at Sixth Street), New Orleans, LA.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Wifi: Free, but need to buy something to get to it, so not free?
Music: You’d think it’d be awesome and memorable, as we were in New Orleans. But nothing really stood out. Generic rock.
Restroom: Separate men and women’s. I know it’s weird, but I like when there’s distinction.
Food and Drink: Your standard fare of coffee, tea and baked goods. I had a peach mango black tea that was quite excellent.
Crowdedness: Full, but not stifling full.
Comfort: They only offered tables and chairs. And though they were two seaters, they were super close together, so you did feel a little bit on top of each other.
Staff Amiability to Linger: Doesn’t seem to be a problem.
Plug Locations: Scattered along the walls throughout. Sadly I couldn’t sit by a window because there wasn’t one nearby.
Workability: I was down visiting a friend with a baby in NOLA, so I took a morning to go here and get some work done without being distracted by her baby’s adorableness. It worked, and I got a lot done!
The Little Extra: There really wasn’t any, and I think that’s why I was so underwhelmed by this place. They could have done a little more to stand out, but they didn’t.
Overall: This is a chain in the Southern States, and you could definitely feel its chaininess. Unfortunately there wasn’t another place within walking range to my friend’s place. I worked there, but I didn’t enjoy it. And given I was in my favorite city outside of NYC, I was expecting to feel more of a local flavor. Sad.
Cafe Talk has been traveling a bit, and once again just being terrible at writing posts. Hopefully now that summer is approaching things will slow down a tiny bit. We’ll see. However, I’m currently in DC for work, and there’s no reason I shouldn’t write a post for here, is there? No. There is not.
Date visited: May 19, 2012
Location: 201 F Street NE (at 2nd Street)
Rating: 9 out of 10
Wifi: Free and secure, so make sure you ask what the password is. They change it regularly.
Music: Lots of 90s alternative, which is AWESOME. Nirvana, early Radiohead, Fuel, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, etc. It’s like listening to the Buzz, or whatever the alt-rock radio station of your teenage years was called.
Restroom: Two of them!
Food and Drink: Organic teas, a seemingly large choice of coffees, baked goods, and sandwiches. I had the tea (per usual) and a steak and cheese sandwich, which was standard fare.
Crowdedness: Very steady. I worked here both on Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon, and while there were different crowds in each (worker drones on Friday, relaxing patrons on Saturday) most seats were always full.
Comfort: Tables for two that are large enough for two laptops! Also individual arm chairs. Excellent.
Staff Amibility to Linger: No concerns whatsoever. I’ve been here for 4 hours now, and some people have been here even longer.
Plug Locations: Tons, all along the wall. It’s a rare treat honestly to have so many.
Workability: I had two meetings here while in DC, and they were both incredibly productive. I could easily work here all day!
The Little Extra: They apparently have concerts here on various evenings, featuring local musicians and acts. Also, there is amble outdoor seating.
Of Note: Ebenezer’s is actually owned by a church here in DC, though you will not be bombarded by pictures of Jesus or anything like that. The money is used to help fund their community outreach projects. You can read more on their website. It’s social justice at work!
Overall: This is seriously the best place to work in DC. It’s right beside Union Station, which makes getting to and from NYC very easy (not that you’d come all the way just solely to work here. That’s ridiculous). When I’m in DC, I’ll be here!
Note: I know I said I would be writing more, and haven’t. But come on! Life. LIFE!
Date Visited: April 4, 2012
Location: 1269 Lexington Avenue (between 85 and 86th St)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Wifi: Free. I was told there was a password, but there was an unprotected “Little Brown” Network, so I don’t know what that was about. Works perfectly fine.
Music: Besides a stray Coldplay or U2, most of it’s classic, good folk and country. Patsy Cline, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison. Yes please!
Restroom: One unisex. Perfectly clean and respectable. There’s also a ladder that leads to..what?! I don’t know! Such a mysterious bathroom.
Food and Drink: I only had their tea, which was fine. However my friend Todd who works nearby stopped by and said their chocolate was incredible. And he’s a reliable fellow, so we’ll say it’s good.
Crowdedness: There are always dozens of people here at all times. However, many of those are in and out. There’s always a smattering of free chairs, though you’ll have to sit beside someone.
Comfort: They don’t offer much in the way of seat options. Standard chairs around two long tables, or stools that look just like the chairs but taller along a counter that faces 85th street.
Staff Amiability to Linger: I’m coming up on 2 hours and no one has said a word. They keep steadily busy, so a couple of hours won’t make a difference.
Plug Locations: Only along the counter space, which is understandable but can lead to a lessening of workability (see below).
Workability: This is really the only place that Little Brown loses points. Because the plugs are located on the counter, this is really the only place you can get serious work done. However, the afternoon sun pours in, and makes it VERY hot. They have a shade that keeps most of it off, however with a white counter, there is a horrible glare. So most people are hot, can barely see their computers, and sweating profusely. It’s not really thefault of Little Brown that the sun follows a path in the sky and rarely deviates from it, but it can make for uncomfortable work.
The Little Extra: The fact that it is one of the only places on the upper east side that isn’t a Starbucks is something. The window does provide really great views of the street, and of people working in the Starbucks on the other side of the street…
Of Note: My friend Todd works nearby, so he stopped by to say hi. Hi Todd!
Overall: I’m rarely on the Upper East side, but if I ever am again, I’ll be sure to stop by again. Especially if it’s a cloudy day.
Date Visited: February 17, 2012
Location: 71 Pineapple Street (between Henry and Hicks Street)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Wifi: Password protected, but the name and password are freely given, and even written on the walks in chalk, so it’s no trouble to get on art at all.
Music: Perfect for working. A lot of Elliott Smith, Andrew Bird (a personal favorite), and a mix of old and new mellow songs. I did not break out my headphones once!
Restroom: One unisex. The walks are chalkboards, and they provide chalk, which leads to people staying in the bathroom a little longer than usual. Related: if you’re visiting this site because you found it written on the bathroom wall at Vineapple, welcome!
Food and Drink: They didn’t seem to have much in way of food, but I didn’t really ask. Good cheap tea (though they were out of honey), and a nice happy hour as well.
Crowdedness: There are plenty of people here, but also plenty of places to sit. I had to address some envelopes, and was easily able to spread out to do so.
Comfort: They pretty much have a seat for all types of people. Long tables, high benches, comfy chairs, and living room style couches. I sat at a table, but could see a man stretched out on one of the sofas, as if it really was his living room.
Staff Amiability to Linger: They have no problems with it whatsoever. They even have multiple book shelves, which seem to encourage lingering. Though when perusing the shelf closest to me, the first book I saw was Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. That is my mortal enemy of books!
Plug Locations: This (and not having honey) are the reasons it loses points. There do not seem to be easily accessible plugs over in the living room area. However at the tables there are plenty located right in the middle, so at least there are some.
Workability: Indeed. I was able to get a lot of different tasks completed, and even had time to write this blog post.
The Little Extra: Looking around, it is marvelous how much space there is. It’s a long way from the front to the back!
Of Note: I have a couple of friends who live in the area, which is why I decided to make the trek here (it’s not terribly easy to get here from Williamsburg). In doing so I scored a dinner invitation, which makes it well worth navigating the G train.
Overall: This place was recommended to me by a friend who really enjoys working here, and I can certainly see why. I may have to find more excuses to work in Brooklyn Heights!
Date Visited: 2/6/12
Location: 238 Madison Avenue (at E. 37th Street).
Weekday Hours: 8am-10pm
Rating: 6 out of 10
Wifi: Free, and works rather well.
Music: Lots of classic rock and oldies. Beatles, CCR, Simon & Garfunkel. Great working music, in my opinion.
Restroom: Nope. And this is where the place loses points. Hard to work for extended periods without a bathroom! I had to run down to a Starbucks 2 blocks away to use their facilities.
Food and Drink: They have my absolute favorite tea, Irish Breakfast. And I tried this very delightful blueberry cheesecake bite. It was good, but unnecessarily expensive.
Crowdedness: They were steady. However, as I was writing this down, I overheard someone ask the guy at the counter if it was busy. He said no. So apparently, what do I know? There were always seats available, but maybe it was a day-after-Superbowl fluke.
Comfort: Tiny little bench chairs. They have a back, but are not the most comfortable for long stretches of work. They are decorated very cutely, with newspapers as wallpaper and a sink with a plant in it.
Staff Amiability to Linger: At the current time of writing this, I have been here for 3 hours (with the exception of a bathroom excursion), and no one has said a word. So I suppose they are.
Plug Locations: I don’t see many, but there are two at the counter by the window where I’ve been working.
Workabilty: The lack of the bathroom will deter any single worker. Fortunately I have a friend with me to watch my stuff if I need to leave (and vice versa). If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have done as much as I did. Barring that however, I did get quite a lot done, and even had time to write this post!
Of Note: I realized that when I first started writing this post that the Piccolo Cafe in the East Village was my first Cafe Talk post, a little over a year ago. I have come full circle!
Overall: In the wasteland of cool places to work in Midtown, it does better than most. It loses major points for not having a bathroom and being more expensive on desserts (the tea price was comparable to others). I find them better than Culture Espresso Bar, for instance. But I may look around a little bit more before I completely decide on my Midtown coffee office.
Date Visited: January 12, 2012 (first cafe of the new year!)
Location: 235 W. 12th Street (between Greenwich Avenue and 4th Street).
Hours: 9am-midnight, every day.
Rating: 9 out of 10! I so enjoy this place!
Wifi: Free and fast. Connect all your devices and get to work.
Music: A-mah-zing. You know that scene from My Best Friend’s Wedding, where everyone sing “I Say A Little Prayer?” That basically happened here when that song came on. Everyone was singing along. The music is varied and entertaining, yet also easy to ignore if you need to work.
Restroom: Yes. It’s clean and cozy, and their hand dryer could practically skin you, it’s so strong.
Food and Drink: Pretty much everything here is organic. In fact, it’s rare you don’t see that word attached to the description on the menu. Very good croissants. As for the tea, they have lots, including my favorite, Irish Breakfast. It’s so rare to find a place that has Irish Breakfast, so it makes me happy when I do. Lots of alcohol too, in case you’re working late into the evening. Be warned though, it’s a tad on the pricey side, but not horrible.
Crowdedness: Not at all. My friends and I originally came here because Grounded was too crowded and the Internet was being crappy. It was such a fantastic decision. Plenty of space, but they also keep busy, so that’s nice.
Comfort: Incredibly so. They have benches with cushions, pretty floral chairs, and the tables are the correct height for typing.
Staff Amiability to Linger: After a couple of hours I asked, “is it okay if I stay here?” Of course! Stay as long as I like. It probably helps that I keep ordering Irish Breakfast.
Plug Locations: They are really only in the corner, so if you want to look out the window while working, make sure you have a long lasting battery.
Workability: I get tons done here. So much so that I’m able to write a review during the work day.
The Little Extra: Every time you check in on four square, you get a little tin of tea. Which is good for me, as I just received a loose leaf tea pot for Christmas.
Of Note: Two friends and I came here in December, and just fell in love with the place. I’m not sure why, but we acted like we had never been to a restaurant before. It was kind of embarrassing. Today, it happened again. Everything about this place fill us with childlike wonderment.
Overall: I cannot rave about this place enough. I would work here every day, if it wasn’t a tad on the expensive side. But for those winter months when I stay in my apartment for days at a time, it’s a perfect break and well worth it. Don’t be surprised to see me here often!
Sorry for the delinquency, folks. The end of the year got crazy for me on many fronts, and I just wasn’t able to post. However, I promise I will have more. I’ve been to many great cafes, and want to share with you!
I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. Looking forward to many great cups and working in 2012!