Whether you’re a student hitting the books or a freelancer who needs to get out of the house, you’ll know the value of a cafe to help take care of business. With that in mind, the following is a shortlist of exceptional places to work, study (and eat, drink and use the internet). Sort-of offices are all over Sydney, from the roomy Three Williams on Elizabeth Street in Redfern, to Paddington’s Tiger Mottle, with its very British menu and cheerful red stools. This list is not exhaustive, but a touch point, penned from the perspective of the highly mobile worker.
Some hints for those who make an office out of a cafe: remember your manners when you linger, making enquiries about the wi-fi password. Don’t sit on a long black for two hours. If people are lining up for your table, order more or leave. No one is stopping you from taking it to a bar. Most hotels in the CBD will happily serve you spirits while you send emails.
Powerpoints are notoriously scarce for mobile workers, but with the State Library (and its heavenly Mitchell wing) close by, you can charge your various devices here. The dining companion to Sydney’s oldest public building, Bistro Mint has the dignified atmosphere you’d expect from a heritage property, flanked by columns and populated by decorous wait staff. The menu is humble, the coffee is decent and you’ll never struggle to find a super-private table.
If you’re allergic to bunting and saccharine pastels, you may feel a little put off by the moniker “Nan’s Place”. But this intimate Zetland cafe is sparing with the twee elements, and those it delploys are for your comfort. There are chunky, hand-knitted blankets and chromatic tiles. The tables are big enough to fit your computer, coffee and a large plate. Arrive at 9am on a weekday and you’re guaranteed a spot for an extended period. Try the avocado on rosemary bread with spiced labne, sage and caper dressing – a neat enough meal for simultaneous eating and typing.
Edition Coffee Roasters
Make a beeline for the back corner and order the Yakuza’s Breakfast: hotcakes drenched in miso butterscotch, topped with pineapple and crème fraîche. Aside from the large coffee table beside the three-piece couch, table room is scarce. It’s a squeeze with your laptop and a meal on a single, but there’s wi-fi and the staff is very accommodating.
Next door to Edition, and equipped with free wi-fi, is this quiet kitchen offering old-school dishes, that are hearty and reasonably priced. The winter menu is worth sampling, especially the chunky, aromatic soups. This is the right place to push through a last-minute deadline undisturbed.
Le Grand Café
The in-house cafe for Alliance Francaise de Sydney, this Clarence Street stronghold is full of light and is easy to work in. There’s no wi-fi, unfortunately, but it’ll do you good.
Creativity, once exhausted, is best revived with caffeine. For those who concentrate best among the murmurs of other people, Reuben Hills offers the right backdrop. Avoid the manic lunch hour and head in at the golden times of 11am or 2pm. Insider tip: there’s a powerpoint at the window.
The crown jewel of Marrickville cafes – and a stone’s throw from the station – this churning, heaving site is a hothouse of clean, fresh produce. Grab a black coffee (made with Sample beans) and steal a corner spot against the counter. You’ll be tempted to stay for breakfast and lunch – and if you keep ordering, they won’t mind one bit.
Other cafes that are freelance-worker friendly:
Paper Cup, Stanmore
Goblin Cafe, Summer Hill
Gather On the Green, Camperdown
Le Petit Tarte Cafe & Patisserie, Glebe
Another Hideaway, Ultimo
Tripod Cafe, Redfern
Pieno, Surry Hills
The Old Fitzroy Hotel, Woolloomooloo
Bent Fork, Freshwater