I often go to cafés and install my little mobile office for long hours. I’m known to arrive with my laptop early in the morning and type the hell out of that thing all day long until I realize it’s late and I’d rather have dinner elsewhere. I bring the equipment too: headphones, notebook, colored pencils, chargers, chapstick, clips, stress ball.
So you may say I have some experience in the field and I’m very aware of the challenges faced by the so-called “digital nomad” when looking to work outside the house. Unfortunatly, not all coffee shops are suitable for working, no matter how much we love them. Hell, they might be the prettiest café you’ve ever been to; or have the best flat white in town; but they’re just not made for us, the annoying freelancers.
A few factors to consider:
- The location. Trendy neighborhoods are usually loud, crowded and you’re likely to end up with a crying child or a chatty teenager next table.
- The table. I like wide tables with enough space for my computer, my notebook and of course, my coffee and food. Small tables may promote unfortunate accidents like coffee spilling on the keyboard.
- The music. I choose coffee shops with music that I like, but, at the same time, not too loud so I can alternate between headphones and ambience. It’s nice to listen to your own music, but once in a while try to breathe and take in a little of your surroudings. It can be soothing.
- The chair. The height should be appropriate to the table level so that you can type and read in a comfortable position. Personally I LOVE booths.
- The plugs. Sometimes the coffee shop has different types of tables and the one that you like is really far away from the closest plug. I’ve been to coffee shops with only one plug. In my case, because I stay for a long while, my computer or cellphone will eventually need charging. If this is not your case then maybe plugs are not at all that important.
- The Wi-Fi. Just around the corner I have the almost-perfect café: quiet, spacious, comfotable, cheap. But the WiFi sucks. And yes, WiFi is pretty much essential here, so make sure it works well even if the place gets filled with customers streaming soccer matches.
- The menu. Now, my problem with co-working spaces is that I don’t enjoy their “culinary” offer that much. And yes, you can bring your own food or even have something delivered to you; but that adds up to the price you’re already paying for your right to BE there… so it’s too expensive for me. I NEED TO HAVE: decent coffee, several options for breakfast / merienda, and easy fixed lunch menus. I prefer healthy food because I don’t want to spend the whole day just sitting there and eating junk food.
- The prices. Eating out can be expensive. Especially when you do it often and for whole days at a time. So if you end up spending more than you’re actually making per day, well, that’s just not good.
- The service. I have given up on nice cafés because their staff just had the worst vibes. Don’t be that café. Also, beware of self-service coffee shops: while they’re usually cheaper and chill; if you need to leave your devices unattended every time you want to get something, they can become inconvenient. For the same reason, try to sit close to the bathroom.
- The hours: I’m productive in the morning. I wake up early and I’m on fire. So I need a place that opens early so I don’t miss my chance to use my fresh energy. Some coffee shops open at 10 am – a bit too late for me. Some of the best cafés in BA open only on weekdays (Negro, for example) so I can’t be there on a Sunday. I often work on Sundays.
A few places I have tried in Buenos Aires (including my absolute favorite)
- All Saints Belgrano: Their “secret” top floor is perfect on Sunday Mornings: open at 8am, no one is there apart from the staff playing their favorite music, amazing coffee (biggest flat white in town). Downside: Limited menu. (my review in Spanish here)
- Crisol Mansilla: Their second floor has become one of my faves: comfortable tables and booths, plugs, wi-fi, white and peaceful decoration, their “Colegiales” Breakfast comes with big latte, 4 types of XL toasts, juice and water, at a fair price. Open early on weekends.
- Le Blé: Not exactly the cheapest, but boy is their coffee big and their croissants tasty. They’re open on weekends very early, the staff is nice, the tables are well equipped and comfortable. For “special working occasions”.
- Varela Varelita: Very cheap and adorable staff. Downside: Small tables and not very healthy food.
- Full City Coffee House: The best coffee in the city – which also means is a bit pricy AND you drink it in a heartbeat. Hard to find a seat since every freelancer in town is fighting for a spot there (my review in Spanish here)
- Whoopies Palermo Viejo: Comfy, reasonable prices, good service, healthy options.
- Green Eat: All kinds of tables, including those long communal bars with many plugs, self-service, long menu with something for everyone, not cheap but not exorbitant either. (my review in Spanish here)
- Café Martínez: it’s quite ok. Comfy, good service, prices are not crazy, they have a huge coffee bowl and good home-made yogurt.
- Balcarce-Ghandhi: Working surrounded by books, affordable, they let you stay as long as you need to. The cheaper alternative to Bar del Pasaje.
- La Panera Rosa: YES for booths, attention and breakfast combos.
- Café Haus : Super comfortable booths, tables, plugs and WiFi. Spacious and quiet. Downside: I run out of coffee too fast (my review in Spanish here)
- Café Flor: Go there if you’re a coffee-nazi and you absolutely must have specialty coffee. You pay for time, not food, as if you were in a co-working space; but you get quality coffee. For me it would be expensive to become a regular customer (if I compare it to other coffee shops where I pay for food and they let me stay however long I want) but I have to admit is one of the most confortable places to work.
- Starbucks: Usually my last choice. It’s a bit pricey and food options are limited. The good thing is that you can stay for as long as you want, no one will even notice you.
My chosen one:
Tostado Café Club (specifically their place at Córdoba y Callao) has covered all my demands regarding coffices. You might not see it at first if you go there on a busy afternoon and might freak out with the crowd and the noise; but they have a hidden basement that might be your next office.
✓ Mostly quiet (no kids, although there is the eventual “talkative” girl)
✓ You have booths and also long tables with plugs on top (including USB)
✓ Alternative contemporary music (I often find myself singing along)
✓ Wi-Fi works fine (Only had a problem once, didn’t seem to be their fault)
✓ They have a wide range of breakfast combos, sandwiches, salads, wraps, hot bowls, yogurts, pastries, breads, desserts, juices and lemonades, etc. From the vegan and healthy, to the sugary and calory-loaded; you name it.
✓ Prices are OK. You can get a (giant) cortado and medialunas for less than you pay at a Bodegón; and their fixed formulas are affordable too. If you buy a coffee, you get 50% discount on the next one.
✓ Only place in town that doesn’t charge extra for using almond milk. And we love almond milk.
✓ No table service, BUT – the basement has its own coffee-bar and some snacks so that reduces the times you have to go upstairs for supplies AND the bathroom is right there.
✓ Ok, they’re closed on Sundays. But that’s ok because I prefer All Saints on Sundays. They’re open Mon-Fri 7am-10pm and Saturdays 8am-10pm.
You can read my review of Tostado in Spanish here.
EXTRA: Coffee shops I absolutley ADORE but do not meet my working-needs:
In my Instagram you can find pictures of all places mentioned.
What’s your favorite coffice? Did I miss something? Share your tips 🙂