Are you triggered by any or all of these words? Pyjamas. Blank email. Homes Under The Hammer. Twitter. Peanut butter. Spoon. Twitter. Blank document. Twitter. 4pm. Body odour. Pyjamas. If yes, then congratulations, you know what it’s like working from home.
There’s a reason why cafes and coffee shops exist: it’s to keep you from doing the above. Not all are made for working in though. Aside from good coffee you need somewhere comfy, with good wifi, and plenty of those sacred plug points. These are the best coffee shops in London with everything you need to get some work done.
Covent Garden has plenty of cafes, some are packed out 24/7, some are tiny and get filled quicker than you can say I-refuse-to-get-on-the-tube-before-9am, and some have velvet sofas and a huge apple tree slap bang in the middle. Well actually, only this cutesy spot on Monmouth Street has that. It also has plugs everywhere, an air of calm that will help you not get fired when you get that urge to reply with the passive aggressive email you just drafted in your head, and a menu with everything from brunch to baked porcini pasta. This is a good spot to get a decent couple of hours work in, and the WIFI is good enough to get by, just don’t head here if you’re going to be doing some huge downloads because it could significantly slow you down, That, and their dessert menu.
The best thing about being a freelancer is that you’re your own boss. And the worst thing about being a freelancer is that you’re your own boss. Fare Bar and Canteen in Clerkenwell is the kind of stylish all day coffee spot that your boss (you) can definitely get on board with. They serve great coffee from 7.30am, there’s a shiny marble bar that makes for an excellent day time office, and, importantly, they have plenty of tasty small plates on offer for when the boss decides it’s lunchtime.
There are many reasons why you should go to Soderberg in Soho. One is to sit down with a cup of good coffee whilst also being conveniently close to one of their many USB ports. Another is their seriously tasty cinnamon rolls. And really, the ultimate reason to go to Soderberg is to feel really, really cool. Do you look like you’re starring in a comedy sketch entitled The Sogfather after a bus splashed you? No problem, this laidback Swedish spot is full of Scandi furniture, people wearing beanies, and an indie top ten soundtrack that will make you feel human again. They’re open until 7.30 during the week and their evening smörrebrod platters are an excellent reason to hang about for an extra hour or two if you’ve spent the day working here.
Just because your Instagram bio says ‘digital nomad’ now doesn’t mean that you can’t get cabin fever from working in dingy cafés. Hit the Riding House Café in central which is a lovely and incredibly convenient place to post up for a few hours. The sofas and long communal table are a good shout, and it’s also bright inside, which helps if you’re prone to a bit of seasonal affective. There’s a varied all-day menu of posh brasserie dishes, but it’s also good for eggs in the morning too. Bear in mind that it gets busy at peak times.
Farringdon isn’t exactly short of coffee shops, but Prufrock has been one of the best in London for a long time, both for the quality of their coffee and the environment you’ll drink it in. It’s laid back enough for you to relax and go deep and finish that Powerpoint, and the service is also great.
Big Jo Bakery
For lunch and by night, this spacious and bright Hornsey Road spin-off from Newington Green’s Jolene is all about pizza and wine, but it’s really an all-day bakery so throughout the morning and afternoon you can eat pastries fresh from the ovens out back. You can also drink excellent coffee, and while we absolutely would not pitch up here with our laptop riser, trackpad, and external keyboard, it’s perfectly comfortable for those times when you need to do some non- or low-intensity screen work. There’s also plenty of activity at all times of day, as staff mill flour and prepare dough for the night’s pizzas, so loads to distract you while you hunker over the proposal you’ve been working on at one of their narrow, window-facing counters.
If you’re after a place to work with coffee, tea, snacks, and varying distractions, then you’ll enjoy Spiritland in King’s Cross. This music café and bar is comfortable and cosy, and just the right amount of trying to be cool. The amount that can distract you out of work, or disgust you into it. You can easily come here with colleagues, or hunker down on your own. Which makes it particularly useful considering where it is.
n.b. Spiritland has only been open in the evenings throughout the coronavirus pandemic, so call ahead to check they’re open before turning up with your laptop.
St. Paul Islington
Some cafés are great for pitching up solo for an entire day, and others are much more suited to a couple of hours work (with or without colleagues). St. Paul, right by Highbury and Islington station, is the latter. This airy café and evening wine bar is a nice, casual space to do some work, drink some nice coffee, and eventually be led astray by a glass of pinot noir and a baked camembert.
Some coffee shops have a distracting bustle, but Dark Habit in Queens Park is stylish and calm. Seating is limited here and it can be busy during peak times, but for most of the day you’ll easily find space at one of their larger tables, or at the window. Once you’re in you’re in. The excellent soundtrack makes it the perfect place to stop for a couple or three hours to break up the day, and there are few spots in this part of town that care as much about the quality of the coffee they serve as this place does. If only it stayed open past 4pm we’d probably spend our nights here as well as our days.
n.b. Dark Habit has been takeaway only through the coronavirus pandemic, so call ahead to check they’re open before turning up with your laptop.
Caravan King’s Cross is a huge all-day restaurant on Granary Square that takes the needs of freelance coffee drinkers very seriously. Not only is it open late, but they also have a couple of rows of workshop-style sharing tables at the back where you can get on with whatever you’re doing without having to worry about giving up your table for an incoming party of four trying to get some lunch.
A lot of theatre cafés tend to be boring, slightly depressing afterthoughts that only see any action during intermissions, but Park Theatre is actually great. It’s usually busy with freelancers and local theatre types chatting, but it’s never so busy that you won’t be able to grab a seat. The internet’s fast and the setup feels spacious, and you’ll definitely want in on some of their Portuguese custard tarts when they’re available.
n.b. Park Theatre Cafe Bar has been temporarily closed throughout the coronavirus pandemic, so call ahead to check they’re open before turning up with your laptop.
This all-day café, bakery, and restaurant on Newington Green is popular with the locals, so if you’re planning to work a shift, it might be an idea to settle in early. You should know that you will be spending your whole day at Jolene. You’ll stay long after your laptop runs out of battery, after your second breakfast of fried eggs, jamon, and potatoes, and after the hearty bowl of soup you downed as a late lunch.
Our brain whispers two things to us every Monday morning. The first is coffee. The second is the name of this place. So really, it’s no surprise that we’re such big fans of this modern, calm café in Brixton. From the foliage to their flat whites to their hidden garden, it’s a good place for sending emails, eating a bacon bap once you’re bored of sending emails, or even just for daydreaming about one day being able to own a fern without killing it. Just be warned, they close at 4pm during the week.
n.b. F. Mondays has been takeaway only through the coronavirus pandemic, so call ahead to check they’re open before turning up with your laptop.
Train station cafés are the world’s worst liminal space. Their sole use is as a time-killing environment, and yet time appears to stand still when you’re in them. But Coal Rooms, attached to Peckham Rye station, is an exception to this rule. The front coffee shop area opens at 6:30am and is a super useful place to get a bit of work done. Especially if you need to jump on the train at some point. The coffee and pastries are good, plus there’s an excellent restaurant at the back to tempt you away from work.
you’re the kind of freelancer who likes to knock-off at 3pm for a restorative walk along the river that you mark in your diary as ’self-care, then Coleman Coffee Roasters near Waterloo is for you. It’s a small and cosy coffee shop on Lower Marsh, with Persian sweet things, Catalonian sparkling water, and a small patio so you can send all those important emails al fresco, weather permitting.
n.b. Coleman Coffee Roasters has been takeaway only through the coronavirus pandemic, so call ahead to check they’re open before turning up with your laptop.
Sadly, this isn’t a cafe with a staff of lumberjacks that pass around pens crafted from disused oak, yelling “timber” everytime you check your phone, and swinging you over their shoulder every time you ‘accidentally’ open Twitter. But, what this Camberwell spot lacks in axe wielding, plaid-clad men, it makes up for in excellent coffee, light bites, and local artist’s work for sale on the walls. During the week you’ll find plenty of people tapping away at their laptops upstairs, but you can pretty much always find a spot downstairs. Although they shut promptly at five, it’s worth noting that they’re open bright and early at 8am with things like shakshuka and banana bread on offer.
The first thing you should know about Stir in Brixton is that they have decent coffee. The second is that there’s a tiny black dog that’s always sleeping under one of the bookshelves by the till - hello, 3pm petting session when you realise that digital agency still hasn’t paid you. As well as lots of exposed brick, there’s plenty of craft beer options, pastries, and enough seating that you can usually find a corner (and yes, a plug) to claim.
n.b. Stir has been takeaway only through the coronavirus pandemic, so call ahead to check they’re open before turning up with your laptop.
Despite being fairly cosy (see: small) Hej in Bermondsey makes for a good stop-off spot to get a couple of hours work done. There’s a large shared table which is laptop free: which is excellent encouragement if you have work that doesn’t necessarily involve you knowing what Love Island contestant you’d hypothetically be. Otherwise there’s plenty of counter seating and some comfier sofa options, plus the coffee and cakes are good too.
If we’re talking incentives to get work done, a cold craft beer must be up there. Bean & Hop in Earlsfield is a cafe by day that does excellent sausage rolls and good coffee, but has an extensive craft beer list that you can get through at night. The internet’s reliably fast and there are plenty of power outlets, and the café has the sort of laid back indie vibe that’s always welcome in this part of town.
The coffee shop that you daydream about always being in, maybe owning, and hopefully catching eyes over MacBook screens with ‘the one’ in, is the kind of cafe you want when you need to get some ‘work’ done. Popham’s is all of this and more. Less than ten minutes from Hackney Central, the east London outpost of this bakery and café is airy, comfortable, and serves the kind of pastries where just one simply isn’t an option. Because a ham and cheese croissant needs something with custard in it to wash it down, right?
If one more person refers to you as ‘funemployed’ you’re going to force them to submit your tax returns next year and see who’s having fun then. But, on the plus side, being freelance means you can make all day, small plates and coffee spot, The Attendant Shoreditch your work zone for the day. You can expect lots of foliage, cold brew coffee, whitewashed walls, and of course, wifi. They’re open from 8am until 6pm.
Coffee shops are to Hackney what teenagers are to Camden: there are loads of them there. But the best place to work in Hackney isn’t a coffee shop. Instead, it’s Martello Hall, the excellent pizzeria-slash-bar on Mare Street. During the day, there’s a comfortable first-floor lounge where you can get bottomless coffee and fast wifi for a tenner, and the ground area is ideal for a casual meeting or lunch. The pizzas and cocktails are fantastic for when you’re ready to say fuck it and call it a day.
The area around the Old Street roundabout is rammed with coffee shops, ranging from your Café Neros to the sort of places that take 20 minutes to make your drink. Problem is, most of them are noisy and horrible for actually getting any work done. Walk a few minutes up City Road to Coffee Junction which, owing to being slightly out of the way, is quiet and spacious, and perfect for settling in and going deep on that children’s novel/spreadsheet you’ve been working on. The mugs of coffee are big if you’re on a freelancer budget, and there’s also a nice outdoor area for meetings when the weather’s nice.
The Hive of Vyner Street at Cambridge Heath is a place of many talents. You can come here for wine and nibbles after five, but up till then it’s a comfortable place to have a coffee, jump on the wifi, and look at your laptop with a face that says you’re doing something very creative, serious and important. They also do some decent light sandwiches, salads and brunch-y things if you want them.
If you’ve spent any amount of time working from coffee shops in Shoreditch, you’ll know that the Ace Hotel is the default for most people. Problem is, it’s hard to work in a hotel lobby when guests start knocking back drinks in the middle of the afternoon, especially at a place as sceney as the Ace. Go to Forge & Co across the road, which is perfectly set up for working: there are tables for work and meetings, sofas for informal chats, fast wifi, and a full menu if you’re planning to spend the whole day there.
Tuesday is your no-zoom-meetings day and that means you can a) work from your bed, or b) work from this airy Notting Hill cafe which is serving up things like creamy mushrooms on toast. As tempting as your bed is, only one of those options comes with table service, Nutella-filled doughnuts, and a solid internet connection, so we know which one we’d pick. Chocolate-stuffed treats aside, this spot is all hanging lights, exposed brick, useful plugs near most tables, and an airy feel to it that will make you want to stay until they close at 5.30pm. And their menu will do the same.
In the place of the former Dominique Ansel Bakery (RIP cronuts), a new bakery has opened up in Victoria. And it’s somewhere we really wouldn’t mind moving into permanently. In fact, we would happily spend eight hours working our way through their menu of clay oven-baked flatbreads while typing away in their spacious dining room, preferably on a window table, or on their cute little terrace. You’ll have to be strategic about the plug situation, but if you get one, you’ll want to spend your whole day here too.
Formative is a slick, slightly industrial spot where you can quietly get on with stuff for hours without anyone disturbing you. That’s why you’re the boss of you after all. Besides proper cups of coffee and pastries, there’s not a huge amount going on here, but that’s what makes it so perfect for when you’re looking for somewhere to get a bit of work done around Victoria Station.
As anyone who’s spent an entire day in a chain coffee shop knows, the amount of people willing to forgo deodorant in order to guarantee personal space and a plug point is extremely high in London. That’s why Greenspeares, a café ten minutes from Knightsbridge station, is such a godsend. This cosy deli is a genuinely comfortable and lovely space to get some work done. The wifi is fast, there’s an upstairs and downstairs area, and plenty of healthy and tasty sounding menu options.
Although the term ‘getting some work done’ has a very different meaning in Chelsea, Beaufort House is still an excellent place to settle in with your laptop. This being SW3, it’s more of a sloaney bar than an indie coffee shop, but it’s relatively quiet during the day, it’s very comfy, and the drinks are good. If you’re really serious about this freelance lark, they also offer a membership option for around £30 a month to use a dedicated members’ area that’s open until 3am.
Natoora is a little deli and cafe off of Portobello Road that’s perfect to stop into for an hour or two. Although selling fresh produce is their main thing, this store offers a daily changing menu of brunch-type dishes (see: healthy bowls and things on toast) depending on what produce they’ve had delivered. There isn’t a tonne of seating, but grab a stool by the window and it makes for an ideal spot to power through some emails.
Someone actually managed to write a novel at this café in Shepherd’s Bush. That’s got to be at least a third as hard as setting up a website for your new personalised litter tray business. Not only does this place serve the kind of pancake-packed breakfasts that’ll actually get you out of your home office (your bed), but it’s also got the kind of jolly, rustic Riviera feel that’ll keep you chilled even in the midst of a panic that the website domain ‘pee-ow’ is already taken. Be warned, there can be a rush at lunchtime and when the local schools let out, but generally you can always find a table.
It’s hard to get work done in Notting Hill when you’re fighting for precious cafe real estate with a bunch of locals who are on their fourth glass of wine. Though most cafes along Portobello aren’t ideal for productivity, Bluebelles is an exception. Here, it’s always easy to find somewhere to work, and unlike hanging around in Daylesford, staff are super accommodating to freelancers. As well as nice coffee, the cakes here are especially good.
If you’re the kind of person who spends any amount of time in Chelsea then you probably know that it’s not the best part of town in which to nurse a single coffee for five or six hours while powering through all those invoices you’ve steadfastly failed to send out for the last two months. Cpress is the kind of place where you can. The coffee is good, it’s comfortable without being too cosy, it’s open late, and there’s nothing like watching locals come in for £10 juices to motivate you to actually (finally) get paid.
n.b. Cpress has been takeaway only through the coronavirus pandemic, so call ahead to check they’re open before turning up with your laptop.