I’ve spent a pretty substantial amount of time over the last 6 years doing work in coffeeshops, whether reading, writing, or programming. Here are the best places I’ve found for working.
Top Pot (Downtown)
Top Pot has a very special place in my heart. I worked a few blocks away in Belltown for a few years, so I first started going to Top Pot to read my Bible in the mornings. I was tryixng to go 2 or 3 times a week and eventually was going every morning. This then became my default place to meet up with people or get some work done where I needed wifi. I made friends with the baristas and a guy named Ian gave me free coffee every now and then. I went through many of those coffee loyalty cards. There’s ample upstairs seating in the loft, or you could stay downstairs and get a window table; two opposite walls are entirely bookshelves, which makes for a nice atmosphere. I’ve spent so much time here that there’s a very real nostalgia whenever I’m in the area.
Ada’s (Cap Hill)
I also love Ada’s so much that I used to drive 30–40 minutes one way from Redmond just to get two hours of study time. Ada’s is both a technical bookstore and a cafe, with large windows and high ceilings for a lot of light and plenty of programming/computer science books for when I got bored and just wanted to pick up a random book. They run book clubs here as well and used to have monthly puzzles that would win you a free drink if you could solve them. It can be a little hard to grab a table depending on when you go. There’ve been a few times that Suzi and I have gone and, seeing there weren’t any open tables, had to go to the Victrola shop just down the block (which, although great, does not make the list).
Zeitgeist (Pioneer Square)
I go here when I want to sit at a counter facing outwards into the street and feel like I’m the main character in a movie. There’s enough space to lay your stuff out. There a lot of tables, the ceilings are high, and the buzz of people coming through is more helpful than distracting.
Caffe Vita (Seward Park)
This Vita is open until 8pm every day including Sunday and has plenty of seating and parking. It’s not usually busy and you can count on being surrounded by other people who are just trying to get work done over a couple of hours. A nice atmosphere. There are blinds you can pull down in case the sun’s in your face.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery (Cap Hill)
The Reserve is open until 11pm every night and also has plenty of seating options. It can be noisy and packed with tourists, but there’s usually high turnover (like if you wait for a few minutes, something will probably open up within that amount of time). Where you want to be is at a large wooden table in the back that looks like it would be reserved, but almost certainly isn’t. There’s not a lot of foot traffic here, you’ll be able to put out all of your stuff, and you still have a window to the Starbucks employees doing their coffee thing. Chillstep plays in the background, which sets a good mood to focus.
This Zoka in particular is usually pretty busy, but it’s busy with people who are sitting down and getting work done. Tall ceilings and windows for the outer walls mean a lot of light. I’ve also heard some good chillstep here, though music selection gets pretty eclectic. This is probably the only place where I’ve actually opted in to the giant table in the middle where I’ll be sitting next to strangers, because it feels like there’s this weird collective motivation to be productive. It’s like working in an open office where everyone just works instead of collaborating. This was the one shop where I could go and work for 2 hours reliably and feel like I could work another hour easily. Park at the nearby library for free 4 hour parking instead of street parking (though it’s not uncommon to be able to find street parking directly in front of Zoka). The Wallingford location is too dark for my liking.
Cafe Solstice (U District)
Solstice is on the Ave and also has a ton of seating, but is also usually pretty busy with people who are heads-down in books or computers. You should be able to find a good table without much trouble. Certain areas can be a little dark, and the music can be a little loud sometimes, but I’ve settled here after spending some considerable time at Cafe on the Ave, which is just a block over, which is much more socially oriented. The Harry Potter-esque Suzzelo library is a few minute walk away, which is a great view, but be prepared for the silence.
Thanks for reading. Let me know if there’s a coffee shop that you’re particularly fond of working out of!