Plug In and Drink Up: The 13 Best Coffee Shops for Working In Brooklyn

Photos by Jane Bruce

For quite some time, I was a freelancer. On good days I could say: “I answer to no one but myself,” which felt nice. But most days, that sentence was proceeded by the less cheery: “Where in the hell am I gonna work today?”

Three basic principals would guide my decision, and it was difficult to meet any of them: Is the place not overly-crowded? Is it not too see-and-be-scene-y? Are there outlets?

My criteria for this list really is as simple as indicated: Find at least one place per general Brooklyn neighborhood with a tolerable, peaceful scene, where seats and outlets were available on a regular to mostly-regular basis, and which had good coffee and food. Some of these places suit the bill more than others, and, as it turns out, the old adage is true: The early bird gets the outlet and the seat. Even the most crowded places don’t really start filling up till after 10am.

But get happy: As we found out, it really is possible to be a professional in public, meaning there are plenty of spots in the borough where you can do your work, not hate everything around you, and stay powered up too—AKA live the Brooklyn dream.

 

primrose2

Primrose Cafe
Dorly Ninio opened Primose Cafe four years ago, hidden in plain sight on an otherwise quiet and residential Green Avenue block. Her specific intention was to not make just another “Brooklyn cafe,” and instead to give it more classic cafe warmth, and less austere handsomeness. Weekends can get busier, but even then seats are available. Weekdays are a dream: Seats and outlets are aplenty, the pastries are from mouth-watering Colson Patisserie in Park Slope, and, when the weather permits, there’s a roomy and attractive backyard. The catch? Ninio decided to hand out Internet passcodes that last two hours, thereby thwarting cheapskates who pay $3 in coffee for nine hours of rent. But I think this is a boon. Everyone knows a deadline is a freelancer’s best friend, just as much as no Internet access can be—in which case you can still hang out all day long (but be nice to Ninio and get a second cup of coffee while you’re at it).
Primrose Cafe 147 Greene Avenue, Clinton Hill
Monday Through Friday 7am – 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am to 8pm

LARK Café 
While nearby Cafe Madeline is quaint and delicious, it sure gets busy and loud (though, note, the backroom usually does have space). However, locals who need to get stuff done head to Lark Café, the very attractive, smaller but more-seats-and-outlets available alternative. While traffic is consistent, noise levels remain low, outlets are placed throughout and beyond pastries, Lark also offers tasty sandwiches, salads and soups to keep you fueled up as you type away. Be sure to check out Lark’s sister cafe, Elk Cafe in Windsor Terrace, if that’s closer to your home and you want a park view to look at when you’re feeling blocked.
Lark: 1007 Church Avenue, Prospect Park South
Elk: 154 Prospect Park Southwest, Windsor Terrace
Monday – Friday, 7am – 7pm, Saturday and Sunday, 8am – 7pm

Henry’s Local
Henry’s Local is very much about serving the local crowd–which is to say, the slower-paced surrounds of Henry Street, two streets removed from the craziness of Court and Smith streets. The cafe opened in early 2014 and has retained the feel of the wine bar it took over: quiet, classic, cozy (black-painted wood, tin ceiling, and tile floors). The Internet is strong here, the staff is friendly, and outlets line the floor boards along the banquette seating.
570 Henry Street, Carroll Gardens 
Monday through Friday, 7am to 7pm, Saturday and Sunday, 7:30am to 7pm

Routine

Routine 
This is a very large—and yes—admittedly out of the way option for most, but Routine is new and really far enough out of the way that you can go ahead and be absolutely positive that you will have a place to sit, caffeinate, eat Dun-Well Doughnuts, and work. They serve-up Toby’s Estate, too, which, we’ve learned, really know its beans.
631 Wilson Avenue, Bushwick
Monday – Friday, 7am – 7pm, Saturday and Sunday, 8am – 6pm

Mocha Mocha
Options in this neighborhood are not necessarily aplenty meaning that this place has its share of attendant traffic, but it has upsides, too. There is regularly available seating (in the form of especially cushy armchairs), delicious crepes and desserts upon which to snack, with the helpful addition of all food delivered straight to where you sit. If you’ve got more on your plate than normal, this is a rare example of a work-friendly cafe that stays open late daily.
8602 4th Avenue, Bay Ridge
7am – 11pm daily

 

smooch

Smooch 
It is somewhat beyond comprehension why Smooch is the essentially empty-all-day cafe in verdant Fort Greene. Inside, seats are cushioned, the Internet is fast, the owner and staff social and pleasant, and the filling vegan salads are delicious. You just cannot go wrong with this one. There are outlets everywhere, two cozy nooks in addition to banquette and table seating, a clean bathroom and, if you order a muffin, you should definitely accept their offer to cut it in half, toast it, and plop on some butter. Wait, there is one qualification: No Internet on weekends, and it can close earlier during the fall, around 6pm. But, fine–you may be a freelancer but you should be able to leave your work behind sometimes, too.
264 Carlton Avenue, Fort Greene
Monday – Friday, 8am – 9pm, Saturday and Sunday, 8am – late

Breukelen Coffee House
This one is a hands-down winner: always plenty of seating, a particular abundance of outlets and a friendly staff. It’s a favorite place for local freelancers and, despite the popularity, a quiet place to camp out, put your head down, and work. Stay away on the weekends when things get busier, but do decide to order from the menu of locally sourced ingredients, or get yourself a slice of banana bread made by a neighborhood lady who hand delivers it to Breukelen. Breukelen serves Stumpton, but also take a chance on the popular Nutella Mocha. “Nutella is the only chocolate we use,” said the barista on staff. Sounds great to us.
764a Franklin Avenue, Crown Heights
Monday – Friday 7am – 8pm, Saturday and Sunday, 8am – 8pm

Milk + Honey
This freelancing spot is cheerful, airy, and pretty. There are individual and communal tables, and while outlets are not exactly in abundance, the scene is super-calming and not at all frenetic. That counts for a lot. It is a good example of a place to go to work for a few hours, and eat a Middle Eastern-inspired treat while you’re at it.
1119 Newkirk Avenue, Ditmas Park
7am – 9pm daily

Steeplechase Coffee
Steeplechase is named for the former Coney Islande-based horse-race, of course, but also in part, for the nearby steeple that belongs to the Immaculate Heart of Mary down the street–which is to say, the owners of the cafe are particularly interested in serving their neighborhood. When they moved from South Park Slope a few years ago, they noticed that both a coffee shop and community gathering space were missing in their new neighborhood. Enter Steeplechase, which has proven successful at bringing in local freelancers and artists (whose work is often displayed on the walls. The cafe also serves the delicious pastries of Margo Patisserie in Williamsburg, and coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Company.
3013 Fort Hamilton Parkway, Windsor Terrace
Monday – Friday, 7am – 7pm, Saturday and Sunday, 8am – 7pm

 

moutainprovince

Mountain Province
The coffee from Mountain Province comes from a farm in the Philippines by the same name, and is sold directly to the cafe in Williamsburg. Owner Ray Luna has built a really special spot, which we feel kind of bad about blowing up, but also couldn’t make a list like this without including Mountain Province. While outlets are not really the priority here, the seating is good, the staff is friendly, and you can eat mouth-watering Filipino treats based on recipes from Luna’s grandmother.
9 Meserole Street, East Williamsburg
Monday – Friday, 7am – 7pm, Saturday and Sunday, 8am – 6pm

Ninth Street Espresso
Ninth Street Espresso shares an entrance with Threes Brewing on Douglass Street and stays quiet throughout the day for two reasons: most out-of-neighborhood foot traffic goes in and out of the cafe later at night, when Threes is open for business. During the early morning and daytime hours, local business owners and neighbors stop in for coffee, but fewer hang out. Brilliant because, even when some do, Threes’ back room event space serves as spacious overflow. There is never a moment when the cafe is open that you cannot find a spot to sit and use the Internet. And the beans from Ninth Street and their knowledgeable baristas are pleasant, too.
333 Douglass Street, Gowanus
7am – 6pm daily

Photo by Alex Srp

Civil Service Cafe 
While this Nostrand Avenue cafe has a consistent freelancer presence, it’s never make-me-walk-straight-out busy; rather than camp out all day, people pop in and out a little more quickly. The front room is big-windowed and sunny, and there are a combination of individual and communal seating options. Outlets are available, it’s never loud, and, beyond standard coffee options, there are real sandwich and salad selections. It is a reliably consistent stop off the G train to get stuff done and stay sane in the process.
279 Nostrand Avenue, Bed-Stuy
8am – 8pm daily

 

Propeller Coffee
In increasingly popular Greenpoint, finding a space to stick around and work all day can be hard. (Grumpy is wonderful, but nearly always bursting at the seams with all-day computer workers.) At Propeller, there are lots of outlets and available seating, and many agree: It is the most reliable go-to for the freelancing-dense neighborhood.
984 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint
Monday – Friday, 7am – 7pm, Saturday and Sunday, 8am – 6pm

 

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Top notch list 🙂 If after working from these, you need a break from coffee shops.. Check out getcroissant.com for an easy way to get work done from coworking spaces in Brooklyn and Manhattan!

  2. If you’re going to list Steeplechase you should probably mention that most of the tables (all but 2 in the back) in there have signs saying “no laptops or tablets allowed” so it’s not the most freelancer-friendly place.

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