As some of you know, I was in NYC last week. It was a combination of a work and hang-out trip. During the week I needed a place to camp out and get some blogging work done and so the hunt for awesome coffee shops in the city began. I certainly didn't coin the term coffice but I remember somebody mentioning it to me in a conversation I had:
Friend: “So…where do you work?”
Me: “Uh…in various coffee shops”
Friend: “Ah so you mean a coffice!”
So there we have the story of how the hashtag #coffice was born.
What makes a coffice a coffice?
There are a certain key elements that make or break a coffice. You can tell me if you agree or not.
- The wifi needs to be good ya hear? There's nothing more offensive than a coffee shop without wifi.
- Need the juice a.k.a. power. We're power hoards and need to keep our laptops and phones supplied. The best ones have plug in points all over. If not then at least every few tables.
- Table and chairs. Sounds simple right? I'm not even that picky about this but there needs to be enough space to at least put a laptop, drink and phone on. Giant sharable tables are fine. Bar stools and tall tables are fine. Even circular tables are fine. There just needs to be ample space to work and doesn't require you to show up right at opening to get a spot.
- Coffee has to be good. This is a coffee place after all and if you're going to be there all day, it might as well be for damn good coffee. Oh and don't forget about the food.
- Ambiance has to be work conducive. At the end of the day, it has to be a place where you can get “in the zone”.
It sounds simple enough right? But as I've learned from many trips to New York City that it's a lot harder than it seems. I'm not sure if some coffee shops are set up to deter guys like me or if they just want to prevent homeless people from coming in. Wait does that mean I'm a bum? I guess in a way I am because I could easily have just worked out of the apartment. There's just something about the vibe of a coffee shop, the energy and the absorption of caffeine directly through beverage and through osmosis.
My top picks for coffices in New York
These are all the spots that I went to this week. The good and the bad.
 Caffé Bene Times Square
- 1611 Broadway at W 49th St, New York, NY
- Mon – Wed 6:30AM – 1:00AM, Thurs-Sat 6:30AM – 2:00AM
I worked out of here on a previous trip and love this spot because of it's rustic look juxtaposed with industrial steel decor, exposed brick and hanging bulbs. What really makes it an awesome coffice is that it has an enormous amount of table space. It's almost as if they designed this place with coffice in mind. On the main level there's several bench areas and a nice little library nook in the back. Walk up the stairs to the second level and you have an enormous space with table after table of space to work with. It's just north of the heart of Times Square so for some it's quite convenient as well.
Wifi (7/10) – I was able to connect with wifi password “benetisq” with ease but I did find there were some moments when the speed would slow down to a crawl before picking back up again. It became kind of annoying that day I was there.
Power (9/10) – I worked from the benches and I was impressed that they had outlet access right from the top of the bench. I didn't venture to the second level or the back library but from before I remember them having outlet access as well.
Workspace (10/10) – I mentioned ENORMOUS right?
Coffee & food (8/10) – There are tons of selections here with their focus being on coffee, waffles and various Asian style desserts but I would say it's on the more expensive side of things. Coffee itself was of average quality – not too strong and not too watered down. I ordered a wrap there as well and the total came out to just over $10.
Ambiance (9/10) – Despite being right by Times Square, it never got too crazy in here. I was able to work here distraction free in this relatively low key environment. You got a mix of people just grabbing a coffee for a chat and others trying to work.
 Stumptown Coffee Roasters
- 30 W 8th St. (at MacDougal St.), New York, NY 10011, United States
- 7AM – 8AM
On my second day, I found myself at Stumptown for an early morning meeting. I didn't quite get to work here all day but I got a good feel for the place from hanging out there for a couple hours. From my time there, I really enjoyed the old-time kind of feel it gave off. The well used laquered wood of the coffee bar and mellow hipster music set the tone.
Wifi (N/A) – I didn't get to use it but from all the laptops that I saw there, I'm pretty sure it was working just fine.
Power (N/A) – Again, I didn't get a chance to look unfortunately
Workspace (7/10) – The only gripe I had about this place was the lack of space. It's not a big coffee shop and really just has one row of small circular tables and a bigger rectangular table in the back. That's about it. By the time I finished the meeting at 12PM, there was already no space left. The circular tables are kind of a problem if you want to work with someone else. There's literally only space for one computer, a drink and maybe your phone. That's it. Everything else has to go on the ground or on the bench.
Coffee & food (9/10) – These guys are known for their coffee and it showed. Coffee snobs come here so it better be good right?
Ambiance (8/10) – It's a small place so you notice everything happening here so you might get distracted. There are a lot of people going in and out and you'll hear ever single hiss of the espresso machine. Despite all that, you did feel a level of energy here. The place is very upbeat, brightly lit and caffeinated for lack of a better word.
 The Marlton Hotel
- 5 W 8th St (5th Ave), New York, NY 10011, United States
- 24 hours
So with no place to work at Stumptown, I asked where else I could go in the area, and then they let me in on a secret that the hotel across the street was a fantastic place to work in. And oh boy was it amazing. It's one of those places that I probably shouldn't even be telling you about because of how hidden it is but well here I am spilling my best kept secrets.
The lobby is completely open for anyone to use as is any hotel but has a bunch of tables to pick from. There are smaller square tables, larger rectangle tables, couches and even small booths near the bar. I ended up grabbing a seat in the booth and it has to be one of the best spots I've worked out of. It was just the right amount of noise level, ambiance, music and didn't have that overpowering coffee smell everywhere. There isn't a lot of traffic through here as you can imagine so it was a lot more low key than a coffee shop.
Wifi (10/10) – Just brilliant! Super easy to connect and had good speeds all throughout the day.
Power (10/10) – In the booths, there were dedicated power outlets in each one.
Workspace (10/10) – I got my own booth. What more do you need??
Coffee & food (8/10) – I only had their coffee here which cost $3. For lunch, they had a water main problem and closed down their kitchen so I ended up buying food somewhere else and bringing it in. Coffee was average. The standard drip stuff probably.
Ambiance (10/10) – Low traffic, mellow kind of place if that's your thing. It was a nice change of pace from the busy-ness of coffee shops.
 Paris Baguette
- 567 7th Ave, New York, NY 10018, United States
- Mon-Fri : 7AM-10PM, Sat : 8AM-11PM, Sun : 8AM-10PM
I love Paris Baguette. I've been to the ones in South Korea and the early Paris Baguette's in NYC's K-town. Having heard that this particular store had multiple levels of tables so I thought I'd try it out. That ended up being a big mistake. The food of course was delicious. The coffee fabulous but they made a huge cardinal sin – there was no wifi. By the time I found out, I had already ordered my lunch (their heated sandwiches are amazing btw). Not wanting to waste more time to find another place, I decided to just tether my cell phone since I had data in the US. That was less than ideal because I eventually hit my data cap at the end of the day and ruined me for the rest of the trip.
Lesson: The first thing you should ask before you put your order in is whether they have free wifi.
Wifi (0/10) – Non existent. Common guys!
Power (5/10) – There were some outlets scattered around the level but nothing convenient to access.
Workspace (8/10) – They do have a lot of tables and 3 floors to work with.
Coffee & food (10/10) – I love their stuff. Cakes are amazing, sandwiches were the bomb and they even have their own version of the Cronut!
Ambiance (7/10) – Well decorated and very well lit with options for benches,
 Birch Coffee
- 21 E 27th St (btwn Madison & 5th Ave), New York, NY 10016, United States
- Mon-Fri 7AM-9PM, Sat 8AM-9PM, Sun 8AM-8PM
You'd think I'd learn from Paris Baguette right?
So Birch was highly written about as a top notch coffice and I had high hopes. Long story short, I get duped again for the second day in a row after I order my grilled cheese sandwich and coffee. I ask the barista about the wifi and he says “Oh wifi doesn't come on until 5PM”. I had to take a double take to make sure I heard right. “What excuse me?”
This time I had no cellular data to fall back on so I had no choice but to just finish up my lunch and move onto an alternate coffee shop in the area.
Wifi (0/10) – Only after 5PM? Now that's a first.
Power (5/10) – Honestly can't say I saw any plugs near the raised table area I was sitting at nor the tables nearby. Reviews often talk about working in the library area in the back so I assume there should be some outlets out there.
Workspace (7/10) – It's not a big place at all but they manage to cram in a lot of table space which is impressive. It does get very busy in the day though so it might get a bit competitive for spots. Again, everyone raves about the library area in the back and it has a nice loungey vibe to it and is much quieter. Still, space is still tight over there. I really see this place as more of a socializing spot than anything. That or grab your coffee and head somewhere else.
Coffee & food (10/10) – Coffee and food were solid albeit a little on the pricier side. Coffee and grilled sandwich came out to $12. I guess you just have to get used to these type of prices in NYC. I hear their cold brew is really awesome.
Ambiance (8/10) – Buzzes with energy. The library decor is certainly a nice touch.
 Gregory's Coffee
- 327 Park Ave S (btwn E 24th & E 25th St), New York, NY 10010, United States
So after a desperate last minute search on FourSquare, I found out that there was another place called Gregory's Coffee around the corner. I packed up from Birch Coffee and made my way over. The outside of this store is going through renovations and is surrounded by scaffolding but the inside was fully operational. Wifi here is fully open here and after ordering my iced tea, I easily found a table to work from. I loved how this place had an emphasis on table space, chairs. You had the option of sitting around a big rectangular table, on a bench with circular tables or standalone tables in the back corner.
Wifi (10/10) – Brilliant! High speed and consistent throughout.
Power (7/10) – I originally sat at a table in the back corner that didn't have access to plugs but later moved to one near the left wall that had outlet access. There's not a ton of plugs but I think you can easily figure something out.
Workspace (9/10) – The back part of the coffee is pretty much dedicated for coffice go-ers so it was great to be surrounded by others wanting to get shit done.
Coffee & food (10/10) – Didn't have their coffee here but it definitely seemed like a popular spot for locals.
Ambiance (8/10) – Reminds me a lot of Starbucks but a lot bigger, a little loud but less crazy which is a good thing. The one thing that did annoy me abit was that the ground seemed to be always rumbling. My theory is that it's from the subway underneath but maybe it was something else.
 Cocoa Bar
- 21 Clinton St (btwn Houston and Stanton), New York, NY 10002, United States
- Mon-Thurs 7:30AM – 11PM, Fri 7:30AM – 1AM, Sat 8:30AM – 1AM, Sun 8:30AM – 11PM
I've worked out of this Lower East Side location for a few times before and I've always loved the coziness of Cocoa Bar, the inventiveness of their chocolate infused coffees and teas and their open layout in the summer when all the doors slide open. A great place to work if you're in this part of town.
Wifi (10/10) – Wifi speeds are good. Ask the barista for the password as they rotate them often.
Power (5/10) – The biggest problem with Cocoa Bar is power is only available at the bar where everyone shares a big power bar. There are no outlets at the tables.
Workspace (9/10) – There's a decent amount of tables here considering its size. It's never too busy too so you're almost guaranteed to grab a table.
Coffee & food (8/10) – Their coffee flavors are quite unique and with a focus towards chocolates. I always find something interesting to try there. Food wise I've never had anything there. Prices are slightly above average.
Ambiance (8/10) – It's a nice laid back place that only locals of Lower East Side know about. Therefore it's quiet and never full.
 Capital One 360 Café
- 968 3rd Ave (at E 58th St), New York, NY 10022, United States
- Mon-Fri 7AM – 6PM, Sat 9AM-5PM
And last but not least there's the Capital One Café. I totally forgot about this one when I passed by and remembered how this place used to be the main ING Café in NYC. I used to go to the Toronto ING Café quite frequently so I thought I'd give this a try. Recently the ING bank in the US was purchased by Capital One so it had to be rebranded when the change happened. Similarily, ING in Canada is now called Tangerine after it was bought by Scotiabank. In any case, the idea around this café is that it's really a huge store to promote Capital One 360 so all the employees are knowledgable about the bank and people can easily pop by to ask questions, sign up or get issues resolved. One of the main reasons this is necessary is that Capital One 360 is a virtual bank and doesn't have a branch so cafés like this create that physical link that some want. The great thing though is that they don't try to hard sell you on anything here and is honestly run like any old café except the prices seem to be subsidized and if you have Capital One 360 debit card you get 50% off. For the coffice goer, this is amazing because not only do you get access to a huge 2 floor open concept workspace, you can do it on the cheap at the same time.
Wifi (10/10) – Wifi speeds are great. You join their wifi network, a pop up shows up where you just hit an “Agree” button and you're good to go. Never reset on me the whole time I was there.
Power (10/10) – Outlets galore here! I worked at the bar table by the window on the first floor and just underneath the table there are outlets at almost every seat.
Workspace (10/10) – Tons of spaces to work out of here if you look at the photos above. Upstairs, you have all the lounge chairs various seats to do some individual work or with a larger group. Both floors have bar-style tables. And if you want regular tables, the ground floor has those too.
Coffee & food (8/10) – Had way too much brewed coffee throughout the week so I thought I'd have iced coffee the two times I worked out of here. It only cost $1.50 (albeit more than McDonalds) but still better than any other coffice spot. The food looked average but everything was reasonably priced. Oh and they also serve Peet's coffee for anyone that is from the west coast.
Ambiance (8/10) – It doesn't quite have that cozy home brew coffee shop kind of feel as it's very modern and business lounge-like. I'm okay with that though, it's a nice change of environment from all the other spots I went to.
I have to give a huge shout out to David at Capital One 360 who was super friendly to me and before closing on one of the days I was there even offered to give me a bunch of pastries and snacks for free. Now that's never happened before.
I'll order these NYC coffices from my very favorite at the top
- Marlton Hotel
- Capital One 360 Cafe
- Gregory's Coffee
- Cocoa Bar
- Caffe Bene
No wifi is a killer and sadly I gotta give you guys the thumbs down.
- Paris Baguette
- Birch Coffee