As a freelance writer, technically all that I really need to do my job is a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection—but comfy furniture, a good soundtrack, readily available caffeine, good snacks, plentiful outlets I don’t have to passive-aggressively battle a stranger over, a certain decibel level of background noise, an aesthetically pleasing environment, and decent lighting help, too. (Is that too much to ask?)
While everyone’s individual definition of an ideal work spot varies wildly, there are a handful of places in Atlanta that have nailed the formula in Goldilocks-fashion: not cavernously dark, but not too bright. Not raucous and loud, but not a tomb. Good coffee (or tea) is fundamental; decent beer, wine, or even cocktails are a plus. Food? Non-negotiable.
Atlanta is blessed with many wonderful cafes, each with its own style, personality, and vibe. Below are just a few of the ones I find myself returning to over and over again. Should you choose to do the same, be sure to make a purchase roughly every hour or so that you’re camped out, and tip well on each. No one likes a squatter, so I consider that my unofficial rent and Wi-Fi contribution.
As a food-motivated individual, it’s important to me that a coffee shop’s pastries are appropriately reward-worthy (i.e., “if I complete this task, I can order a croissant”). The talented minds behind Proof, who supply bread to sister restaurants Cakes & Ale and Bread & Butterfly, have ensured this to be the case: their savory scones, almond croissants, and quiches stuffed with a dreamy combo of caramelized onion and Gruyere are tough to rival. The space has a Scandinavian-chic-meets-schoolhouse vibe—think tangerine-hued lacquer chairs, spacious wooden work tables, and vintage classroom chairs. You’ll usually find ample street parking nearby, and for MARTA-goers, this shop is next to the Inman Park station. Fuel up with Counter Culture coffee or a Rishi tea, then use the promise of that quiche as your light at the end of the productivity tunnel.
Taproom Coffee & Beer
It’s rare to find a place where you can hunker down with a good beer and a laptop: bars are usually not the most work-friendly environments, and many coffee shops that have a liquor license tend to treat beer as an afterthought at best. Taproom is the best of both worlds. The Kirkwood shop has drafts for both beer and nitro coffee, including a few non-alcoholic nitro coffee “cocktails” with ingredients like hops or hibiscus iced tea. (For more standard fare, there are also pour-overs and cappuccinos made with Atlanta-based East Pole Coffee beans.) The shop is small and can get noisy on weekends with brunch spillover traffic, but in the evenings, it’s one of my favorite places in Atlanta to buckle down with a beer (or an herbal Rishi tea) and burn through my to-do list.
East Atlanta Village
Hodgepodge is somehow both cozy and spacious at the same time, with homey, lived-in couches in one room and roomy tables in another. Outlets and seating are plentiful, as is the natural light, which floods in through floor-to-ceiling windows on the building’s west-facing wall. (Speaking of walls: Hodgepodge also acts as an art gallery, so don’t miss the works on display from local artists, or the handmade crafts, paper goods, and jewelry in the front room.) Baristas sling Batdorf & Bronson coffee and espresso creations—my favorite being the “Oh Honey,” an espresso, steamed milk, and honey concoction. The shop serves a solid array of eats, including Emerald City bagels, Ashley Sue’s homemade “pop-tarts,” and cheddar-chive biscuits. Need a reading break? Hodgepodge is also home to the Atlanta Zine Library, with over 200 volumes of zines made by Atlanta artists and writers. Half a mile up the road, MARTA services a bus station at Moreland and Glenwood, and for car commuters, Hodgepodge’s decent-sized lot makes parking generally painless.
The Café at Parish
Don’t try to fight the crowds of Saturday morning BeltLine tourists, but on a sunny weekday afternoon, the ivy-framed brick courtyard behind Parish is easily one of the most pleasant work spots in Atlanta. Below the brasserie’s dining room, a full-service cafe hums along daily, serving fancy toasts and acai bowls alongside buttery croissants and hearty sandwiches for breakfast and lunch, along with plenty of coffee from local roaster J. Martinez. The cafe’s interior has a rustic-modern feel that looks straight out of a Restoration Hardware catalogue, complete with cozy tufted leather armchairs and a large farmhouse-style table with vintage metal stools.
Chattahoochee Coffee Company
For years, this spot was one of the best-kept secrets in metro Atlanta. The cafe, reminiscent of a mountain lodge, is actually tucked inside gated community Walton on the Chattahoochee, just barely inside the perimeter. Visitors have to enter by dialing through the call box at the gate and waiting for the coffee shop to buzz them through. Why would an apartment complex coffee shop adjacent to a leasing office be so beloved? The shop is perched right on the banks of the Chattahoochee, with a wraparound porch overlooking the river. In more recent years, the secret’s gotten out, which means Chattahoochee Coffee has had to clamp down a bit—the shop is now only open to Walton residents on the weekends, and visitors have to show proof of purchase in order to park—but spending a few hours working while surrounded by lush greenery, listening to the murmur of the river, and occasionally spotting the lone kayaker makes it totally worth a weekday drive to Smyrna.
Tea House Formosa
Not a coffee drinker? No worries, Formosa doesn’t even have the stuff on their menu—they’re all tea, all the time. True tea snobs will enjoy leafing through the menu of fancy brewed options (like the $10 pot of funky pu-erh, a fermented blend beloved among tea snobs), but I love Formosa’s creative tea-based concoctions that are approached with mixology-like zeal behind the bar. These include sweet boba milk teas laced with an array of flavored syrups and “tea floats” served with a dollop of ice cream. Snug, made-for-two wooden booths are just big enough to fit both your laptop and a pal’s—or maybe just yours and big tray of pork belly buns. Bonus: While Buford Highway is decidedly not the most pedestrian-optimized stretch of pavement, Formosa is less than a mile from the Doraville MARTA station.
Chrome Yellow Trading Company
Old Fourth Ward
The sparse, modern interior of Chrome Yellow is a photogenic Instagram dream come true: strategically placed fiddle-leaf fig and monstera plants, subway tile and whitewashed brick, a vintage Ducati casually hanging out inside, and slick gunmetal backless bar stools. But this spot is so much more than an aesthetic backdrop for those #hustle posts, with a food menu courtesy of Eat Me Speak Me chef Jarrett Stieber that includes a salad with popcorn instead of croutons and one killer baked egg panino. Fill up your mug with the shop’s daily brew made with Stumptown beans: your first refill is on the house. Retail therapy is available on the shelves in the form of handsome Shinola notebooks and ATL baseball caps. (PS: The recent addition of a big patio umbrella out front makes al fresco work a lot more enjoyable—no more squinting at a glaring screen.)
Old Fourth Ward
Here you’ll find a legit coffee program, a solid selection of craft cans, a well-equipped bar, and a serene patio (complete with Adirondack chairs!) that feels slightly more peaceful and lush than the corner of Freedom Parkway and Boulevard should be. Tucked into the corner of the Tribute Lofts, Condesa isn’t as much of a bustling pedestrian destination as Octane or Taproom, but I like it that way: even after being open for several years, it still feels like a secret. The shop is perfectly positioned to take in that infamous view looking westward down Freedom Parkway at Downtown, and no matter what kind of buzz you need, their well-rounded beverage program—from Counter Culture Coffee pour-overs to negronis and Manhattans—helps get the job done. The Freedom Parkway PATH trail is just outside if you need to stretch your legs.
East Pole Coffee
Disclaimer: If you’re the type of person who requires a Sistine Chapel decibel level of silence to focus, this shop in the Armour Yards development probably isn’t the spot for you. East Pole’s industrial and, yes, noisy space is kind of the polar opposite of a cozy, quiet, library-like hideyhole. But for those who thrive off of a high-energy environment (and equally rousing playlist), East Pole might be just right. The shop’s new partnership with Happy Camper brings breakfast treats, such as pumpkin waffles, to go along with East Pole’s coffee, which is about as local as it gets—you can actually watch the beans being roasted in the adjacent space through the glass wall behind the counter.