Nothing is more lonely than working in the living room with the distant sound of building construction, the hungover neighbour shouting at his dog and the lurking laundry basket reminding you of all the other things you could be distracted by.
Fortunately, living in Melbourne gives you access to some of the best coffee and street scenery in the world. Whether it’s a hidden alleyway café or a vegetarian café the hipsters have loved and lauded for decades, there’s a place for you to set up your laptop and devices for hours of freelance productivity.
These are the trialled and recommended venues to get a consistently kick-ass coffee, delicious and fresh food and be in excellent company. The necessary requisites we have are WiFi and an open attitude to you setting up a portable office.
Keep in mind cafes are always going to be under the pump on weekends, so setting up for a few hours – especially in smaller venues – won’t endear you to the owners and staff. The best time to set up a workstation is during weekdays, and if you’re going to be there for a few hours, be a good guest and consider having a meal or at least a few coffees to pay your way.
9 Melbourne cafés for freelancers
Need to get out of the office? Retreat to one of these wi-fi friendly spaces.
This Chapel Street venue has undergone a major revamp to accommodate jazz evenings and more dining space. The café is located on a corner where the tables and chairs weave around trees and provide ample outdoor seating options. There is no PowerPoint access outside, but you can plug in inside.
The Wi-Fi means you can stay hooked into emails and socials, and the eclectic crowd include local fashionistas, arty types, students from nearby TAFE and local workers from salons, stores, design studios and more.
Time Out tip: Find an outdoor seat and soak up the sounds and sights of the Chapel St scenery.
The Moat Café
For Melbourne's bookish types, there are few better places for showing off one's literary prowess while downing a glass of wine and a baguette than at State Library hotspot Mr Tulk. Or there weren't, but then the Wheeler Centre flung open the doors to a new café/bar yesterday, so now it's on for young and old.
The multi-spaced venue has an AstroTurf courtyard for discussing philosophy/drinking a boutique beer. At the same time, inside, there's a restaurant area and bar for hitting up the not-too-shabby wine list and the Middle Eastern/European small and share plate menu. We've got our eyes on the slow-cooked lamb neck with roasted garlic labne, flatbread and quinoa salad.
We're also champing at the bit to get our hands on the Moondarra Wagyu salami and a goat's cheese crème brûlée-style custard. This is some next-level snacking, ladies and gents. But that's to be expected because the lady behind the pans here is Emma Jeffrey, who has done her time at Reserve, Fenix and Matteo's.
It's an exciting menu in a block that needs a bit of a shakeup, so throw a Penguin classic in your knapsack and get to the Moat as fast as your bike will carry you, comrades.
Industry Beans Fitzroy
A Fitzroy staple since 2013, the beloved Industry Beans has officially moved into a new building just around the corner from its original location.
The new space is a light-filled warehouse that features a larger cafe, a dedicated retail store, a coffee quality and training room and a roaster. After you've ordered your coffee, you can take a peek through the large glass windows from within the cafe to catch a glimpse of the roasting process.
Those familiar with Industry Beans' other stores in Syndey, Brisbane and Melbourne should feel right at home in the new location. The venue is the brand's fourth project with Melbourne architects March Studio, who have also designed spaces like the Jackalope Pavilion.
The interior is meant to reflect the brand's journey over the past ten years and celebrate its triumphant return to Fitzroy. Think industrial features, steel mesh, recycled timber table tops paired with sleek white booths and many plants.
The menu includes Industry Bean staples like smashed avocado on toast and new additions like Instagrammable porcini Nests. Perhaps most importantly, you can also grab a cup of Industry Beans' signature coffee with options like espresso, filter or even cold-brew.
Feast of Merit
This popular Richmond café attracts a diverse crowd – from locals to nearby workers, mums taking their kids for breakfast and personal trainers from the local gyms and Pilates studios to fellow freelancers seeking a spot to check their emails and go over the newspaper between meetings.
Set up at the communal table or find a window spot to set up your laptop and then fuel your optimal performance and potentially improve your typing speed with a double espresso. The menu is hard to overlook, so don’t.
Time Out tip: The windows open to the street when weather permits, so grab a pillow and sit facing the street if you can find a spot.
Auction Rooms Café
Going to North Melbourne is like getting out of town without having to get up early, argue with bogans, or risk bad coffee. Errol street looks like it could easily feature in an ABC period drama given a scattering of gravel and the addition of a pony or two, and yet at the Auction Rooms, you’ll find one of the most definitively modern menus in the city.
Aesthetically intriguing with stalactite-like poly pipe chandeliers, vintage soup cans as sugar bowls, and a large, central, dramatic coffee bar decorating the old WB Ellis auction rooms. This is the place to take your mum, boss or ex-partner for a look-how-classy-I-am brunch, lunch or brew.
Keen to educate their public, they offer a Saturday morning cupping session at their syphon bar, and these guys boast their roast- under the name of Small Batch. We liked the sweet ‘Candyman’ blend they were serving when we went, but since they like to keep it fresh, the blends and single origins on offer will be in constant rotation.
Thanks to their roaster reputation, the coffee for most is the draw, but cop an eyeful of the menu, and you’ll stay for longer than you anticipated, and most likely keep coming back till you’ve worked your way through the brunch, lunch and dinner lists.
Designed by owner Adam del Mastro, the offerings are original. We weren’t sure about “the counter bid” breakfast that saw poached eggs mingling with an unlikely plate of grilled asparagus, verjus-poached peach, coconut tapioca, and pomegranate dressing ($16) but were intrigued enough to give it a whirl.
Balance wise, it wasn’t perfect, but being an interesting departure from baked-sodding eggs, we’re willing to walk a little on the wild side for the sake of something new. Back on the more conventional ground, the banana bread ($8) is a hot door wedge of moist brown sugar-infused goodness. With a slowly melting dollop of contrasting espresso butter, you are left with no doubt that this is not a healthy option.
For launching, get involved in a “knuckle sandwich” ($14.5) partly because the name is awesome. Still, mostly because the braised pork knuckle, piccalilli, rocket and aged cheddar roll is something the Earl of Sandwich would be proud to know was part of his doughy legacy to the modern world.
Three Bags Full
This warehouse-turned-café and dining venue is a favourite of residents and businesses in Abbotsford. Far enough from Victoria Street to feel a world away, it’s cosy despite being such a big indoor space. There are a few rooms to choose from, so if one is particularly crowded, take a wander to find your spot.
The coffee is always brilliant, and the wait staff go above and beyond to look after you. Dependable Wi-Fi and communal tables so you don’t feel like a hermit add to the portable office feel, though there are tables to the side where you can set up solo if you feel so inclined.
Time Out tip: The white chocolate, cranberry and apple muffins are manna from heaven. Don’t think twice.
Brunswick has no shortage of hipster-friendly haunts, and Small Block has consistently won over residents and interlopers from around Melbourne. Though it is, indeed, small, it is delightfully welcoming and embraces freelancers arriving for coffee, food and a few hours of nailing their workload.
Time Out tip: Be prepared to wait for a seat and keep your visit to non-peak hours if you intend to do a few hours of work.
We’re pretty stoked to see someone pushing stovetop coffee. If you’re not familiar, that’s a brew made in those angular coffee pots Italians are mad for.
At Stovetop – the fancy campus café occupying the University of Melbourne learning annex on Leicester Street – pots for two or four are served black with delicate little china cups. We love it. You get the length and earthiness of a filter brew but with the oily sweetness of espresso from the forced extraction.
Here you can request your 'Zuppa' style. You'll get a toffee-crusted, cakey bread cube over which you pour the coffee and icy cold milk for a squidgy caffeinated sugar hit that puts the ‘Tim Tam slam’ to shame.
It’s a schmick space – a blonde wood and pastel homage to geometric patterns with zig zag-etched walls, a central communal table built from diamond inset concrete blocks with a sculpture of a scalene prism dangling above it. It's a Swedish mathematician’s dream.
Eats-wise, pies in flaky pastry jackets and fudgy chocolate fig brownies are flying out the door, or they do a hell of toasted Gruyere cheese and chutney sandwich and offer a few local wines if you're skipping school (or don't even go here – most customers don't).
Breakfast gets a shakeup. Two big cinnamon waffles sandwiching marmalade and sweet vanilla crème are showered with a crunchy almond and cinnamon dukkah and tangy pomegranate syrup. The waffles are a little chewy, and for us, the dish goes overboard with competing flavours. We're waffle purists.
Bacon and eggs here look like curled slices of crisped up kaiserfleisch with poached eggs and a great meaty biscuit of black pudding. Under-seasoned braised cabbage doesn’t add much to the dish,
but apple chutney cuts the richness of the blood sausage like a sweet vinegary dagger.
We have to nudge the waiter a few times for water and the bill. We'd like to see fewer ingredients on plates and more attention given to those there, but the crew are friendly (they’ll let you pay for a single coffee by card), the coffee is ace, and the Victoria Markets are right nearby. That's a win, Carlton.
North Fitzroy Library
This one isn't a café, but it's an ideal haunt for freelancers.
Once the little sister to bigger Yarra Libraries, North Fitzroy Library has expanded massively since the recent renovation and contains high ceilinged, light-filled space with ample seating and desk space for working.
The parking isn’t ideal for working for hours, with most street parking in the surrounding area two hours maximum. But the tram stops directly outside on St Georges Road. If you need the plugin, there’s PowerPoint access and no need for a library membership to access the Wi-Fi, though you might need to ask for a temporary password.
There are two small study rooms for a maximum of four people – both with whiteboards, power points and USB charging. These are on level one and free to use, so first in, best dressed. There are spaces where people can hold meetings and chat within the library, too.
Time Out tip: Take public transport unless you want to be moving your car a whole lot. Nab a study room straight away if that’s what you came for – there’s no way to book them.
FAQs About Melbourne Cafes
The 5 Best Work Spots in Melbourne for Digital Nomads – A Local Freelancer Shares Her Secrets
- Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre, Carlton. Photo via Facebook.
- Creative Cubes, Hawthorne.
- Stovetop, Carlton.
- Bargoonga Nganjin North Fitzroy Library, Fitzroy.
- Birrarung Marr and Alexandra Avenue, CBD.
8 Places Freelancers Can Work at Away From Home
- Local Library. The peace that libraries provide makes them a favourite location for freelancers.
- Coffee Shops.
- Neighborhood Bar.
- Grocery Stores.
- Local Park.
Where to work when you need to get out of the house
- Coffee Shops. This is typically what freelancers and remote employees try first, likely because it is convenient and affordable.
- Libraries. One alternative to working from a coffee shop is the local public library.
- Coworking Spaces.
A freelancer is an independent labourer who earns wages on a per-job or per-task basis, typically for short-term work. Benefits of freelancing include the freedom to work from home or a non-traditional workspace, a flexible work schedule, and a better work-life balance.
Working remotely from a coffee shop offers you the power to complete tasks from anywhere in the world. Before you get too comfortable, keep in mind that a coffee shop isn't your office. While you use the cafe as a workspace, you must be mindful of everyone around you — customers and employees alike.
Melbourne 6 Best Cafes For Working Solo
It’s constantly named one of the most livable places on earth, and this isn’t just because of the killer food scene and quirky laneways. It also has a thriving community of creatives who give the city its cool persona.
Perhaps they result from the government’s generosity when it comes to arts grants. Perhaps it’s that old saying that birds of a feather flock together… Either way, on every street corner, you’ll find a hip cafe filled with designers, writers, DJs, and entrepreneurs, sipping slow drip coffee and tapping away on Mac computers.
Been kicked out of busy cafes, battled terrible wifi, and paid over the odds for co-working spaces, so you don’t have to. The best place to work is Melbourne… because when you work hard, it leaves you with more time to play hard.
402 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Renowned for its cronuts and pastries, bakery Rustica Sourdough sits on Fitzroy’s bustling Brunswick Street. With large glass-panel windows, this timber-filled space is a cosy spot to people-watch, work and enjoy your morning macaron and coffee.
If you want something a little more substantial, try the roasted wild mushrooms with thyme, kale, white truffle, poached eggs and sourdough.
Long Street Coffee
45 Little Hoddle Street, Richmond
Long Street Coffee is in a converted chocolate factory down a small laneway off Victoria Street, Richmond. The space not only provides great coffee, food and a quiet area to work, it’s also a training ground for refugees and asylum seekers.
The menu is focused on local, organic, seasonal produce with Proud Mary coffee. If you want a quick break from your laptop screen, head outside and practice your skills on the basketball hoop.
Two Lost Boys
2/20 Maddock Street, Windsor
Overlooking Windsor Station, this bright space offers convenience for freelancers in the south. Down a dead-end street, this unlikely light and airy location have reclaimed timber benches along a wall of windows overlooking the station – a great spot for a laptop and Monk Bodhi Dharma coffee.
Two Lost Boys offers a quick menu with inventive takes on the classics, including a bacon-and-egg roll with tomato relish and eggs Benedict with spinach, dukkah, hollandaise and harissa baked pumpkin.
The Queensberry Pour House
210 Queensberry Street, Carlton
Endless coffee refills. Enough said.
This Carlton cafe is modelled on the classic American diner, with a warm atmosphere to study and bottomless cups of filter coffee for those with a tight deadline.
Ben Stronach roasts the coffee himself with a rotating selection of single origins. He also offers a two-step white coffee made by infusing filters overnight with house-made almond milk and a shot of espresso.
His menu offers hearty pies and meatball subs, inspired by a “life-changing” lunch in Queens, New York. For something sweeter, there is a range of cakes and pastries.
Penny Farthing Espresso
206 High Street, Northcote
This vintage-themed cafe is filled with musicians and writers, so if you’re looking for a great creative vibe, this is your destination.
Penny Farthing Espresso is known for its simple food and single-origin coffee from Industry Beans.
It also has a coffee cocktail list with specials like the Ginger Mini Bike, the Penny Farthing Espresso and the Step-Through.
For those in need of some vitamin D, there’s a great courtyard to soak up the rays.
Birrarung Marr and Alexandra Avenue, CBD
Aussies like to say how bad Melbourne’s weather is, but if you’re a visitor, chances are you will find the summer temperatures very acceptable indeed! If you can hotspot off your phone, working outside is a great way to feel like you’re still making the most of your trip without falling behind on work.
Birrarung Marr is a pretty park with the Yarra River running through it. You’ll find barbeque spots with plenty of picnic tables for working on the north side and excellent views of the city’s gleaming skyscrapers from the south.
As a freelance worker, you know that finding a good spot to work can be tough. But with so many great cafés in Melbourne, you're sure to find one that has everything you need.
In this post, we'll list some of our favourite cafés in the city that offer Wi-Fi and plenty of space to get your work done.
So whether you're looking for a new workspace or want somewhere to relax and take a break from your laptop, these places are worth checking out!