Freelancers are dramatically altering the U.S. workforce market. In 2017, no less than 57.3 million Americans had done freelance work, accounting for 36% of the total number of workers, according to a study conducted by Freelancers Union and Upwork. Moreover, the freelancer “army” grew by almost 30% since 2016, and is expected to overtake the regular labor market in a decade.
Together with coworking spaces, public libraries and even gyms, coffee spots are a highly popular choice among those of you who got bored of working from your home offices. Beside their obvious advantage—unlimited supply of caffeinated drinks, though at a price, of course—coffee shops present many benefits that make them appealing to fellow independent workers. You get a chance to change the scenery, you can get in touch and exchange ideas with other freelancers, you can easily set up brainstorming sessions, and you might even encounter fewer distractions. It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s true.
A series of experiments considering the effects of noise on creative thinking conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign revealed that the ambient noise from a typical coffeehouse (roughly 70 decibels) can increase productivity. This noise is so effective that some people are looking to recreate it by creating apps designed to mimic the ambient sounds of a café. Clearly, coffee spots can be a more than adequate workplace.
Starting from all these insights, we did the research to see which are the most freelancer-friendly coffee shops in some of U.S.’s major cities, both on the West and on the East Coast, and compiled a list of the best locations for each city. The first one to reveal its best caffeine-filled workplaces is San Francisco. Read on to see why the City by the Bay was our first choice.
San Francisco is a Freelancer’s Haven
San Francisco is at the forefront of the freelancing movement and has an active role in encouraging it. A study conducted by the Controller’s Office in 2016 revealed that approximately 27% of the city’s workers are either self-employed or work less than 35 hours per week. The city’s local authorities realized just how much of an impact the freelance sector has on the economy, so they adopted a freelance-friendly policy. Last September, Bay City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development launched The Gig Economy Strategy, an initiative that aims to offer support to freelancers and contract workers by providing workforce resources and helping you build financial security.
So, it seems only logical for San Franciscan freelancers to search high and low for the best workplaces they can find. When it comes to the city’s coffee shops, the options are endless, spreading across 17 Google Search pages. However, not all of these places are suitable for you: some are too small, some don’t have power outlets or Wi-Fi, some are not welcoming to freelancers at all. Keep reading to discover which are the most freelancer-friendly coffeehouses in San Francisco
As its name suggests, Workshop Café is a cross between a coffee shop and a coworking space. The main venue is located at 180 Montgomery St., and another one can be found at 25 Spear St. The front lounge is reserved for regular coffee drinkers and provides free Wi-Fi, while those who want to get work done can take full advantage of the vast workspace area.
The place has a modern look, as well as a vibrant and lively atmosphere that powers productivity. In terms of seating options, it has everything: single and double tables, communal tables, lounges, private rooms, all of them equipped with power outlets. The only trick is that if you want to do your tasks there you must pay an hourly fee. On the other hand, you get drinks and food served at the table, so you don’t have to interrupt your work.
With three coffeehouses in San Francisco, one of which seems to be specifically designed to accommodate freelancers, the Coffee Bar chain offers some of the most suitable places to work in. If you’re wanting only a coffee to-go you can always visit the 101 Montgomery St. or the 433 Kearny St. locations, otherwise you can always spend your day at the 1890 Bryant St. branch.
The last-named shop is a true working coffeehouse, its layout actively encouraging freelancers to work there. The place provides ample seating in a well-lighted and spacious environment that resembles to a certain degree a coworking space. Apart from the ground floor, there is an elevated area, as well as a patio, all filled with plenty of seating options. This Coffee Bar has big communal tables, small two-person tables, standing desks, and seats at the bar. On the downside, their Wi-Fi signal is not very reliable—at least that’s what the reviews show.
More than a mere coffee shop, The Interval at Long Now is an intriguing mix of a bar, a café, a library, and a museum, that has the ideal ambiance for a quiet and highly productive work session. Featuring a floor-to-ceiling library and a clock prototype designed to ring for 10,000 years, the place boasts an intimate, cozy, and inviting atmosphere that makes you prone to spend the whole day there.
Located at 2 Marina Blvd., inside Fort Mason, The Interval at Long Now stands out on account of its unique design, a combination between futuristic and rustic aesthetics. The hybrid coffee shop has everything you need to successfully complete your tasks: free Wi-Fi, some hidden outlets, and decent seating: a small shared room in the back, a long communal steampunk table, a few sofa chairs, and a booth. As a bonus, it serves everything from coffee to alcohol, so after finishing your work, you can enjoy some drinks without having to move to another location.
One of the major players in third-wave coffee (a movement that believes coffee is an artisanal foodstuff), Philz Coffee is a San Francisco-based coffeehouse chain that also spread its wings outside the city borders. Originally located on 24th Street in the Mission District, it now has 44 locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington, D.C., and Sacramento. Out of all the locations, 33 coffee spots are in the Bay Area, so you can take your pick when it comes to choosing the perfect workplace.
The coffee chain is renowned for its drip coffee, its friendly, but knowledgeable staff, its relaxed atmosphere, and its star beverage, the Mint Mojito. Depending on the location, Philz’s coffeehouses may have a modern, minimalistic look, or, on the contrary, may have a more bohemian, artsy design. Therefore, there’s a perfect Philz ‘coffice’ (coffee shop office) for every freelancer, regardless of whether you’re a tech guy or a designer. Even the smaller spots pride themselves on ample seating, so every location can welcome at least a few remote-working professionals.
A rustic, yet modern place located on the ground floor of the historic building at 1019 Market Street, Chai Bar by David Ryo welcomes its guests with a wide selection of chai products, good food, and a relaxed atmosphere. This coffee shop is great for reading, working or holding a meeting, as it is a quiet and spacious place that has Wi-Fi and plenty of outlets—they’re almost everywhere.
Its main attraction, at least from a freelancer’s point of view, is a long booth-style bench that curves its way from the back to the front of the chai bar and has outlets at every table. The whole place has a productivity-inducing vibe, as many seats are occupied by busy laptop users. As an added benefit, its chill ambiance makes the Chai Bar ideal for hosting business meetings—both online or face to face.
Another coffeehouse chain with a strong presence in San Francisco is Blue Bottle Coffee, a major player in third-wave coffee. Headquartered in Oakland, Calif., the company has 44 locations all over the U.S., as well as seven in Tokyo, Japan. In San Francisco, the chain operates no less than nine coffee spots. Not all locations are adequate for freelancers, but most of them have at least a few tables at which you can sit down and work.
Probably one of the best-known coffeehouse chains in the world, Starbucks is also a freelancer-friendly franchise. In San Francisco, the company has no less than 50 coffee shops which you can visit. Regardless of the location, there’s free Wi-Fi and a few booths you can use to work at. The main trick is to find a free spot, as the place can get really crowded. Additionally, some Starbucks stores open as early as 4:00 am, which is a plus if you’re an early bird.
Another great spot for those of you who want to squeeze in some work while grabbing a cup of coffee is Farley’s, considered by some the original third-wave coffeehouse. Located at 1315 18th St., the place is quite spacious and has a certain rustic charm that might be appealing if you’re looking to have a laid-back workday.
The coffee shop has large windows that allow plenty of natural light to get in and is filled with tables and chairs. There’s also an outdoor patio for those of you who don’t mind working outside, while those looking to sit more comfortably can grab a seat on the couches placed in the front. However, the number of outlets is limited and there is a two-hour Wi-Fi limit, so it might not be suitable for everyone. On the other hand, it is a dog-friendly place, a fact that might be appreciated if you’re a pet-owning freelancer.
Opened in 1995 in Mill Valley, in Marin County, Calif., Equator Coffees and Teas is a coffeehouse chain that has expanded its reach to other Californian locations, including San Francisco, where it has three coffee shops. Not all of them are suitable for freelancers, however—the shop inside Fort Mason doesn’t have much space to accommodate remote workers, unless you are willing to work outside.
The other two spots, however, are better equipped to serve laptop-bearing customers, although each has its particularities. The coffee spot located in Downtown San Francisco at 986 Market St. has an urban-industrial look and is suitable for those with a more creative mindset who don’t mind working in a noisier environment. The indoor seating is limited, but there are outdoor tables at which you can work on your laptop. In contrast, the Equator coffee shop at 222 2nd St., inside LinkedIn’s building, is a cozy and spacious place, ideal for meetings or brainstorming sessions. Boasting a high ceiling, lots of timber on the walls and polished concrete floors, it’s a stunning place to work in. This spot provides a few power outlets, free Wi-Fi, and ample seating in an open space environment. Besides, if all the seats are taken, there’s always room on the stadium-style steps!
Located at 384 Hayes St., Arlequin Café & Food to Go is almost always full of laptop-using customers who take advantage of the relaxing ambiance. This coffee shop has ample seating inside, as well as a cute garden outside, free Wi-Fi, and decent food and beverages, so you can easily spend all your day there.
Located on one of the city’s major arteries, at 2101 Market St., Verve Coffee Roasters is a relatively new addition to the San Franciscan coffee shop market. Opened in February 2017, the place is bursting with hard-working freelancers, who take full advantage of the work-friendly environment. The coffeehouse has a bright, clean, sleek, and modern-looking design, and boasts cozy seating areas around the windows, perfect for socializing, as well as a table area just right for working. The main highlight is a communal desk that accommodates six to eight people, and is almost always occupied by busy freelancers.
As a bonus, the Wi-Fi signal is decent, the staff are friendly, the avocado toast and the coffee are delicious—if you are to believe the reviews—and the music is cool. The downside: sometimes it’s hard to find an empty seat due to the abundance of laptop-bearing customers.
A modern, slightly industrial-looking café, Mazarine Coffee, located at 720 Market St., is a place that attracts mainly Millennials. It’s got plenty of tables at which they can open their laptops and start working on their projects while enjoying a caffeinated drink and the café’s signature avocado toast.
An airy and unpretentious place, Mercury Café is the perfect spot for those of you who want to work in a laid-back environment. Located at 201 Octavia Blvd., it boasts a friendly, warm atmosphere, created in part by the large windows that allow the place to bask in natural light. It has a decent Wi-Fi signal, but, most-importantly, has plenty of tables paired with comfortable chairs; plus, there are outlets almost everywhere.
A small place, busy during rush hours, but relatively chill in the evening, Ma’velous is an edgy coffee shop, fit for those of you who appreciate working in an artsy ambiance. Located at 1408 Market St., it features an eco-chic, slightly industrial design complete with a 50’ painting by the infamous street artist Eddie Colla.
For those who want to work while enjoying a hot cup of coffee that can be brewed six ways, the shop has a few semi-private booths. It’s not a big place, but if you are working in the creative industries you might appreciate its unique aesthetic, the hipsterish vibe and the small library filled with art-related magazines and books.
Founded by a first-generation Ethiopian, Sextant Coffee Roasters is a modern, yet simple, industrial-chic coffeehouse located at 1415 Folsom St. The building boasts an exposed brick wall lined up with small two-person tables that have just enough space to hold a laptop.
It can be a good spot for hosting video conferences, as sometimes it is very quiet, but that’s not always the case, according to Yelp reviewers. The coffee shop has lots of natural light coming in, as well as a patio, for those of you who like to work in well-lit environments. Reviewers say that the Wi-Fi signal is pretty good, especially in the back, but that there aren’t that many outlets, so you should always make sure your laptop is fully charged.