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.
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.
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.
There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank screen and needing to be creative under pressure. You aren’t going to get heaps of inspiration from your local cafe, but we always find that posting up at The Hoxton Hotel helps. For a lobby, it’s busy but civilised, and you’ll always see interesting people passing through during the day. There are desks, sofas, and proper tables if you’re with others, and there’s a full restaurant adjacent if you’re having a working lunch. The central location five minutes from Holborn tube is also incredibly convenient.
Spacious sharing tables, laidback staff, great coffee, fast wifi, and the kind of light that doesn’t make you feel like you’re working in a steamy bunker. These are not exactly the attributes of most coffee shops in Bloomsbury, but Fleet Kitchen on Tavistock Square is all of these things. They also do some great baked on the premises things like flapjacks and s’mores slices, as well as decent and inexpensive lunches of the quiche and salad variety.
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.
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.
If you’re local, you’ll know that Coffeeworks gets slammed at the weekend. But during the week, it’s much quieter. The deal here is excellent coffee, reliable wifi, and a distraction-free environment for getting shit done. The setup’s simple - counter at the front, lounge at the back, and a garden for when you’re taking your twentieth break of the day.
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.
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.
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.
There’s really only one word to describe The Pigeon Hole and that’s, ‘really bloody cute’. Okay, we hear you, technically that’s three words, but the point is this Camberwell cafe is full of books, mismatched chairs, and kooky nick-nacks. It’s a small, chilled spot that’s perfect for when you really need to concentrate over coffee, or want somewhere calm enough that powering through your deadlines doesn’t end up in migraine territory. This place serves your classic cafe fare, like baked eggs, toasties, and sandwiches, but what you really want to get involved in is their freshly baked cakes. They’re excellent.
From the arty vibe around Tate Modern, you might think there would be plenty of places to sit and do some work. In reality it’s slim pickings, but The Coffeeworks Project around the corner is perfectly suited to this purpose. There’s plenty of table and counter space to sit with a laptop, and as well as fast internet and lots of powerpoints, the coffee here is pretty good. Staff are friendly, and though the industrial vibe might not be the cosiest, it’ll definitely stop you from getting too comfy and drifting off.
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.
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.
If the name of this Bermondsey spot offends you then clearly you’ve never felt the rage of chasing up an unpaid invoice for the sixth time. Actually, feel free to use their name as the subject line of your next follow-up email. As you can probably guess from the name, this isn’t the most quiet or understated spot. There’s always music playing and you’ll find big colourful paintings on the walls, doodles everywhere, and an entirely terrifying doll’s head next to the till. Basically, you come here when you need a comfy sofa to work on and an atmosphere that’s upbeat enough to stop you nodding off mid email-sesh. Heads up, they’re open 7am to 7pm.
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.
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.