Best cafes to work in around Australia

by Dominic Ryan
25 November 2019

Flat white in hand, vego brekkie wrap on its way and laptop perched on the wide table top: it’s how many productive days begin for freelancers around the country. That is, if you’re able to find good cafes to work in around your local area – it’s easier said than done! For me, today’s ‘coffice’ is Soul Surf Café in Mona Vale, Sydney – thanks to decent spaces, the great team and the face that it’s seldom full.

Here are our picks for tried and tested cafés around the sunburnt country, perfect for the modern freelancer.

If you’re seeking… table space

Mr Tulk (Swanston St, Melbourne)

A big central table makes for a great place to spread out any notes, and even strike up a chat with other freelancers. This café is named after the first librarian of Victoria’s State Library, which is conveniently located next door.

Rising Sun Workshop (Newtown, Sydney)

Ever craved a bowl of ramen while also needing a coffee pick-me-up and to have your motorcycle serviced? A-ha! From a freelancer’s perspective, this communal motorcycle workshop with café provides long, communal tables that bring a co-working space vibe and are excellent for when you need a bit of extra space for more than just a laptop.

Plum Tucker (Red Hill, Brisbane)

Plum Tucker is by no means short on space, so you won’t feel bad taking up a table for a bit. And as a bonus for any child-accompanied freelancer, they’ve got a play area so you can both be productive.

If you’re seeking… a meeting space

Café Café (Subiaco, Perth)

Benches and tables downstairs and big lounges upstairs, Café Café has you covered whether you want to get comfortable and pensive or to sit upright and smash something out. They also have a private meeting area that you can book out for free if you need to meet with multiple people. Wi-Fi and undercover car parking for free add to the list of pluses this sunny Perth joint has.

Armchair Collective (Mona Vale, Sydney)

Big tables, yummy food and the beach just a hop, skip and a jump away make the Armchair Collective a great place to work if you’re hoping to squeeze in an afternoon dip later. You can’t book a table, but if you get here early you should be fine. Oh, and be careful of your credit card; the cafe has an ajoining shop with some of the best and most gorgeous homewares you’ve ever seen.

If you’re seeking… reliable Wi-fi

The Fort (North Lakes, Brisbane)

The young team at Fort have great Wi-Fi on offer for their studios and hardworking clientele. Not to mention, their coffee is well sort out in northern Brissie.

Clovelly Social House (Clovelly, Sydney)

A short stroll from Clovelly beach and just off the Bondi to Coogee path, this Eastern Suburbs ‘social house’ brings you free Wi-Fi that’s reliable in a sunny café where one is encouraged to ‘be social’! Make of that what you will, they also lay claim to the area’s best eggs benny.

Bookplate / Paperplate (Canberra)

The National Library’s twin sibling cafés are great for a caffeine hit and taking advantage of the excellent Wi-Fi connection. You also have the ability to switch between the buzzier café vibe and the quietness of the library.

If you’re seeking… a friendly welcome

Coffylosophy (Adelaide)

With a killer big brekkie, this SA café will welcome you with open arms, as “we’re all friends here”. Settle in to the friendly vibes and let the writing flow.

Bookoccino (Avalon, Sydney)

Who better to run a freelancer-friendly café than a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author? This bookshop/café hybrid has plenty of desk space, both personal and communal, with people down to have a friendly, idea-inspiring, chat. Plus, as lister Meni points out, “it’s great to be surrounded by books while you’re writing”. Agreed!

Moore & Moore (Freemantle, WA)

Frequented by students, academics and all types of productive people, this cool café isn’t about getting you out the door fast. Don’t feel bad about settling in, as “if you’re looking to hang around for hours … we’ve got you covered” they say. If you’re getting restless and need a break from your screen, go for a wander in the adjoining art gallery that’s run by the same crew.

Shoebox (Hobart)

The friendly and self-described “a bit quirky” staff at Shoebox create a welcoming atmosphere in this funky little Tassie café, perfect for feeling work-ready.

Mad Hatterz Café (Darwin)

The ladies of Mad Hatterz in the Top End’s capital have no shortage of fans calling it Darwin’s best coffee. A big draw here is the friendly and relaxed service brought to you by a team who really know how to cultivate warm, amicable atmosphere. And, it’s a café on Coffey Street. Come on!

If you’re seeking… power outlets (boring but necessary!)

The Flinder’s St Project (Adelaide)

You won’t run out of charge here thanks both to the excellent coffee and the abundance of power outlets. They also put in a charging station, so these people really do get us!

Ampersand Coffee & Food (Thornbury, Melbourne)

Owners of fast-depleting laptop batteries rejoice! This Melbourne joint has a good number of power points to plug into and keep you going.

Hobba (Prahran, Melbourne)

A large warehouse-style café, Hobbo in Prahran has a line of booths to sit in if you’re looking for a bit of privacy as you whistle while you work!

If you’re seeking… a place to pull an all-nighter

And if all else fails? We got recommended going to a 24-hour McDonald’s. Wi-Fi, coffee, power points aplenty, table space and staff that aren’t going to care if you hang around. Fair point.

Cafe etiquette for freelancers

It’s always good to not overstay your welcome. Being pleasant with the staff and making friends is a good idea. Remember that it’s a not a library, and if you’re using their Wi-Fi and occupying a table but only buying one coffee, they’re going to start losing money after a while.

  • If you’re only having drinks, ordering one every 2 hours is a good rule to keep your presence profitable for the café.
  • If you’re getting food (and thus spending more than a drink), you have a bit more grace and should get away with spending a bit more time without calling the waiter over.
  • Don’t drain the Wi-Fi. Download any big files on your own connection before heading out.
  • And, of course, don’t forget to respect the ambiance of the café. If it has a quieter vibe, keep phone calls and meetings to a lower volume.

What are your favourite cafes to work in as a freelancer? Share in the comments!

Dominic Ryan

Sydney-born freelancer journalist and copywriter currently taking advantage of the freelancer’s ability to work and travel (this article coming to you from Belize). Find Dominic on LinkedIn.
Dominic Ryan

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One response on "Best cafes to work in around Australia"

  1. Thanks for the great overview. I will bear those cafes in mind if and when I visit the cities (I live in Sydney). I may be odd but I love taking a corner seat in cafes, and burrowing into my computer preferably with a background hubbub where I cannot fully eavesdrop – I often tune into the conversation which invariably touches on something close to my heart and is distracting. Taste of the coffee is important as are opening hours. I am very much the later end of the day (I like 7pm but very few cafes are still open then), 5pm rather than 4 pm. I am used to cafes cleaning up around me.

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