17 Laptop-Friendly Cafes for Getting Work Done in Brooklyn
I left my office in New York to pursue a remote work and travel lifestyle and traveled the world for nearly 10 months as a digital nomad. When I came back, what had changed about my lifestyle was that I still had work, but no physical office.
Working from home is relaxing, but I like to be around people and coffee as much as possible. When I started having my daylight hours free to work from cafes and find out my favorite places to work, I started exploring Brooklyn through a new lens.
TIP: Most of the cafes in Manhattan are wildly overcrowded, which is why the cafes of Brooklyn present so much of a better environment to get work done.
Cafes used to have a bad reputation of needing a VPN to keep your logins safe. This isn’t always the case as long as you are connecting to websites that have HTTPS in the address bar. If you wanted to block the ISP from viewing your domain or traffic, then a VPN is perfect for you!
Here’s where I’ve been hunkered down with my laptop and some strong caffeinated drinks. Please note that all opinions here are my own regarding coffee, working environment and more. Don’t forget to take a few photos of your coffee and laptop in these attractive spaces.
Devocion (Downtown Brooklyn)
Would you believe it - Devocion has locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan (new), and Bogota, Colombia. During my most recent visit, I mentioned to the barista that I had spent a month in Bogota during the last year and that what had excited me most was Devocion’s strong connection to Colombia itself.
She said Devocion is so serious about their Colombian beans that they overnight them by FedEx from Colombia to New York so that they’re as fresh as possible. Is that devotion… or is it ‘devoción?’
During the day on weekdays, Devocion is filled with 80-90% remote workers on laptops. On the Monday when I visited, there were still seats available and the place was surprisingly not entirely packed. There’s a cool soundtrack playing in the background, and due to the fact that most people here are working, no chatter and not too many loud conversations.
NOTE: The WiFi is on a passworded network and is free. Note, however, that they shut the WiFi on weekends (to keep the place laptop-free, I presume), so come here Monday through Friday with your laptop, and not on Saturday nor Sunday.
Decor is clean and new, with high industrial-style ceilings, walls reminiscent of cinder blocks, tiled floor, a cool cement central “patio” surrounded by real (!) jungle plant life. Working here is like working in a garden. The closest subway is Hoyt-Schermerhorn C/G.
To drink: the fresh Colombian coffee.
Absolute Coffee (Atlantic Ave. / Boerum Hill)
This is some good coffee, and they have a loyalty card! On a given weekday, Absolute Coffee turns into a laptop-friendly work-from-home hangout where three tables put together form a communal remote work desk and the tables that line the wall are occupied by peeps on laptops. WiFi is fast, and there’s hardly any distracting side conversation.
Highlights: great music, friendly baristas and a wide array of teas. They also have some yogurt parfaits, croissants, gluten-free or vegan baked goods and donut holes. They sell their coffee for taking home in a bag.
Vibe: indie, few frills, simple deco like black & white photos framed on the walls and some hand-drawn doodles of cats.
Tip: get ahold of that loyalty card because you’ll be back!
Vineapple (Brooklyn Heights)
Vineapple feels like a big living room on the floor of a brownstone. Nearly hidden from the street and tucked behind a small door and small sign on Pineapple Street, Vineapple is super chill.
I went at 4 pm on a weekday to find a few seats still available, and the long tables occupied 100% by professionals working on laptops. There are couches and chairs as well, and some smaller tables near the front window. The place even emptied out by 6 pm, and I stayed til 7, enjoying the space.
Vineapple’s staff are friendly and down to earth, and they have a bar where you can have a (alcoholic) drink later into the evening.
To drink: tea, or coffee. They also have juice and cold drinks in a fridge.
Hungry Ghost (Prospect Heights)
Hungry Ghost. Memorable name, right?
My biggest discovery when visiting Hungry Ghost’s Prospect Heights Flatbush Ave. location recently to do work was also that the key to getting some space and a comfy seat was coming at 4 pm and staying til past 6. Due to this location’s optimal location between Park Slope, Fort Green and Prospect Heights, it’s always busy (with people on laptops on weekdays).
Decor at the location I go to is chic and has a touch of vintage. If you look up at at the ceiling, you’ll remember that most old buildings in Prospect Heights are turn-of-the-century and pre-war and have details in the ceilings. Big windows at the front of the store let in lots of beautiful light toward the end of the day, and you can get cozy in the window booth.
Note: Hungry Ghost designates several tables as non-laptop tables, so look for the signs if you’re with your laptop and don’t want to be told to move.
To drink: in all transparency, I tried the seltzer on tap and I was one happy gal.
The Center For Fiction Bookstore & Cafe (Fort Greene) [updated Dec. 2019]
Newly opened and now known to the neighborhood as a good study, writing and working space, the Center for Fiction is located across from BAM and conveniently near Downtown Brooklyn. If the sale books on the carts outside on the street don’t draw you in first (like they did for me), maybe the cool interior with beautiful rows of books will.
Off to the left when you enter is the cafe, with tables and seating reaching far back. As you go even further, there’s a ‘quiet room’ with tables and nice natural light that seeps in from the street.
Hours are Monday 10:30AM - 6PM, Tuesday - Saturday 10:30AM - 10PM and Sunday 10:30AM - 9PM. Yelp reviews report customers being asked to purchase an item in order to stay longer if they’ve been there for a bit of time, so keep that in mind. (Personally, I have yet to experience it.)
12/2019 update: WiFi is now limited to 3 hours. Ask the barista for a voucher code on one of the little pieces of paper.
Green Grape Annex (Fort Greene)
You’ll hear lots of locals say that Green Grape Annex in Fort Green is a great place to work. This is not untrue. Green Grape is a solid place to work, if you need a quick work stop between meetings or errands or if you’re okay with buying a product every 60 minutes.
Here’s the catch - while Green Grape presents a nice work environment and is laptop-friendly, their WiFi has a one-hour max. You’ll receive a slip with your individual code when you pay for your order, and it’s good for the next hour once you input it into your browser. If you want to stay connected past the hour limit, be prepared to buy another drink or food item before then.
For people stopping through or who have a quick work item to finish, this is not a problem. It’s important to know for anyone looking for a two-hour sit-down experience.
To drink: I had the coffee, buy I kept eyeing all the food plates (some smelled fantastic). The food menu is here.
Freehold is one heck of a name in the Williamsburg parts, where this locale is known for being a cafe, coworking environment, event space, brunch spot and bar. Freehold has a whole variety of personas.
What you can find here if you want to come and work is a great coffee menu and lots of places to sit, whether inside, outside, on a deck or at a booth.
If you stay into the night, you might find that your office environment has transformed into a hopping bar scene-slash-club.
Brooklyn Roasting Company (DUMBO, and other locations)
Secret’s out. Brooklyn Roasting Company has lots of locations and is practically a NYC household cafe name, but the DUMBO location is big, massive and feels a bit like a coworking space. You’ll see lots of people here with laptops, and there’s WiFi and a whole bit of couch space.
The cafe has good features like two restrooms, free WiFi (with password), no order minimum, no non-laptop-designated areas. Noise level is average to loud, as they play music and it reverberates off all the cement. It was hard to have a call there, so I likely won’t try again.
What you certainly can count on at BRC is a large variety of coffees from all over the world, an array of non-coffee drinks
To note: they have oat milk. Coffee’s good. Ask for a “to-stay cup” to choose an envi-friendly method of consumption. Due to the large space and high turnover of customers, not every table is sparkling clean, so watch out for crumbs and spills if you’re cautious with your laptop and tech.
Sit & Wonder (Prospect Heights)
Aw, Sit & Wonder is so cute! I first came here with a friend while exploring her neighborhood two years ago and based our preference for cafe features on ‘outdoor seating’ and ‘backyard garden.’
Sit & Wonder is hip, neighborhood-y and cozy. On the menu is Stumptown coffee, sandwiches and pastries. There are specialty drinks like kombucha, cold brew, maple lattes and matcha.
Fun fact: Sit & Wonder was voted one of the best cafes for doing work outside by Brokelyn. Sounds exciting to me!
Lincoln Station (Prospect Heights)
Lincoln Station is a cool spot in Prospect Heights and not too far from Prospect Park. It doubles (triples?) as a coffeeshop, brunch spot and place to have a beer. In spring and summer, their outdoor seating is super nice!
Inside, the environment can be described as ‘busy.’ Seating consists of tables around the perimeter and at the windows and a bigger communal table in the center. Most people using laptops sit in the big center table.
Note: Lincoln Station is open til 9 pm. Rotisserie chicken is available after 4 pm, and this seems to be an important thing to mention, according to the online buzz about the place.
Relationships (Clinton Hill)
I spoke with the owners of Relationships and my heart was warmed when they said that the aim of Relationships, a space for “art, design & coffee,” is to meet people and form relationships. Can you think of any other place in New York that’s practically telling you to make a new friend and network as a remote worker?
They have a loyalty card, and your tenth coffee is free when the holes are punched - awesome! The interior is pastel-colored with several round or long communal tables, where most patrons are working on laptops, but others are working on their relationships. On the menu are “basic” drinks, “advanced” drinks (think cortados and macchiatos), teas (hot and iced) and “special” drinks like kombucha.
All I can say is I’ll definitely be back, to chill for a few hours with my work and to meet some new neighborhood buddies.
Update: coffee is awesome and the patio/backyard is perfect for working outside and getting some sun, even into fall. To note, though, is that none of their seats have backs.
Brooklyn Perk (Prospect Lefferts Gardens / PLG)
Not huge, but quiet with remote workers on the average weekday, this cafe has a great set of drinks. WiFi is free, strong and fast for some laptop time.
They have some specialty drinks like a lavender latte, rose latte and a bunch of fancy tea like French lemon ginger and white coconut creme.
Tip: Order a drip coffee and receive an actual four choices of ‘which drip’ you want! Choose from Kenyan, Ethiopian or whichever are being brewed that day.
Outpost (Clinton Hill) - CLOSED (Nov. 2019 update)
Reports in November 2019 list that Outpost has closed. In case they reopen, our original description is still ‘living’ here, below.
Outpost is cool because it’s a cafe and a bar, meaning it’s open on the later end (til 9 pm) and also opens early (7:30 am during the week). There’s free WiFi, and it even reaches the… wait for it… backyard!
There’s breakfast all day, with fruits, pastries, bagels and yogurts, and light fare such as sandwiches, salads and soups. Oh, and in addition to coffee and tea, there’s fresh juice.
61 Local (Boerum Hill)
61 Local is a bar and cafe that even brands itself for the coworking types of people. With communal tables and fast WiFi, it’s a hub for the neighborhood and a community type of scene.
You can treat yourself to specialty coffee, tea, breakfast items and pastries, and for when 5:00 strikes, they have 30 taps for beer and wine. If that was not enough, there’s also weekend brunch (although you could probably leave your laptop at home and enjoy your weekend).
Note: On weekdays, people in the neighborhoods stop in with small kids, so if you need a silent or quieter environment, choose elsewhere.
Swallow Cafe (Cobble Hill, also Williamsburg & Bushwick)
Popular for working at, it’s smart to get to Swallow Cafe early, as tables fill up with laptop workers in the morning.
WiFi is fast, there are some power outlets and everyone’s happy with the quality of the coffee, which comes from Counter Culture. What’s unique about the place are the high ceilings, which are a welcomed feature in a city of tight spaces.
AVA Brew (Downtown Brooklyn)
Relatively new to the downtown BK hood, AVA Brew is a modern space with a clean and cool atmosphere, described best by its Foursquare rating. The noise level is not too high, and you can usually get some space to yourself.
Note: There’s a high-top table with eight stools, and two tables each with two seats near the window. Aside from these, the seating is couches and big comfy chairs. If you’re someone who requires a surface at which to work, keep this in mind.
AVA serves Pushcart Coffee, a selection of teas and for eating, they have pastries. The cafe’s location is such that it’s right near the A/C/F/R at Jay St. Metrotech, City Point shopping center and Borough Hall.
Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea (Park Slope)
Finally, a cafe with ample space and tons of tables for sitting at with a laptop! Sweetwaters Park Slope is located conveniently on Fifth Ave. near St. Marks and is bright, with a low noise level on weekdays. When I went on a Thursday afternoon, only a third of the tables were occupied.
WiFi is free and fast and there are various outlets for you to plug in your charger. What’s more is the walls are decorated with painted scenes of Park Slope and other areas of Brooklyn from local artists.
The menu is pretty big, with choices of espresso, teas, coffees and creamy shakes. For food, there’s a selection of baked goods, cake, cupcakes, macarons and bagel sandwiches.
My note: It kind of has more of a ‘cafe’ (think long counter for ordering food) than ‘coffeeshop’ vibe, but that’s an opinion.
Bonus: FREE Coworking in Brooklyn (for Freelancers)
The best-kept secret I learned from someone in the Remote Year network was that the NY Media Center, located at 30 John St. in DUMBO, hosts a section of their space as a freelancer hot desk area. For what used to be four days per month and has now been increased to eight, you can get a free coworking seat by signing up as a member (for free) and choosing your free coworking days. The center is open from 9 to 5 on weekdays.
There are some cafes I haven’t been to! Here are the cafes in Brooklyn where I want to go:
- Devocion, Williamsburg
- Coffee Project NY, Downtown Brooklyn
- Stonefruit Espresso + Kitchen, Bed Stuy
- Manhattanville Coffee, Crown Heights
- Breukelen Coffee House, Crown Heights