Nothing is more lonely than working in the lounge 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. So 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 Wi-Fi and an open attitude to you setting up a portable office.
Keep in mind that cafes will always 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. On the other hand, 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.
Code Black Coffee
Code Black Coffee was one of the first coffee spots I visited after moving to Melbourne, and wow, did it set the bar high. Located in an industrial-cool warehouse in Brunswick, North Melbourne, this is one of those spots that is worth travelling for.
From the moment you enter through their sliding doors, Code Black just oozes quality coffee and Melbourne cool. With their roastery in-house, it's safe to say the coffee is more than reasonable. It's perfect.
State Library of Victoria
You might be wondering what a library is doing on a coffee shop list but bear with me. Melbourne coffee shops can have pretty short opening times, with many closing as early as 3 pm, which can leave you a bit stuck when it comes to that 4 pm slump. Happily, I've found that the stunning State Library is open as late as 9 pm, with their in-house coffee shop available for much of that.
The coffee isn't half bad, and I'm willing to grin and bear it if it means I get to call this historical piece of architecture my office for the day. So allow yourself some time to wander through the upper levels of the Dome, where there's always a local revolving exhibition to explore.
Back up in North Melbourne, you'll find Lucy Lockett, a cutesy coffee spot located in East Brunswick that brings lovely hippy vibes. Nestled down an unassuming side street, Lucy Lockett feels inherently local in a very good way.
With a veggie-focused menu and extensive caffeine options, Lucy Lockett brings that fresh boost to your day! I'm particularly a fan of their iced coffee options for those hot and sticky Melbourne summer days.
Three Bags Full
Think cosy bare bricks, top-notch baristas and, arguably, some of Melbourne's best daytime food, and you've got Three Bags Full nailed. This Abbotsford eatery is filled with warmth thanks to its artsy home in a Melbournian warehouse. Always bustling, Three Bags Full is a safe choice when it comes to finding a spot to get your work done.
If you're in need of some fresh air, there's a range of outdoor seating, so you can have a side of people watching with your flat white. Or, if you're in need of some creative stimulation, its art gallery is made to inspire.
This warehouse-turned-café and dining venue is a favourite of local residents and businesses in Abbotsford. It's cozy despite being such a big indoor space, far enough from Victoria Street to feel a world away. 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.
This Chapel Street venue has just 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. Unfortunately, there is no PowerPoint access outside, but you can plug in inside. Wi-Fi means you can stay hooked on emails and socials. The eclectic crowd includes local fashionistas, arty types, students from nearby TAFE, and local workers from salons, stores, design studios, and more.
Industry Beans Fitzroy
This industrial-chic Fitzroy café is located off Rose Street between Nicholson and the ever-buzzing Brunswick Street. With multiple communal tables and an open-plan kitchen and dining area, it's not the quietest of venues. Still, the music of other people's conversations provides nice background noise for thinking, observing and working. As you might guess from the name, Beans is serious about coffee, and staff will happily talk to you about their different blends, but they're also discreet and will let you have your own space for a few hours of reading writing or researching.
Auction Rooms Café
This popular North Melbourne café is big, open and always buzzing with breakfast, brunch, lunch visitors and freelancers seeking a funky space to position themselves for a few hours. There are power points aplenty, and the coffee and food are always dependably delicious.
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.
This Melbourne Uni campus café is a blessing for bleary-eyed students feeling the brunt of a full day of lectures. With a power outlet under each table and free Wi-Fi, freelancers are invited to power through their work while chowing down a late break.
The eponymous pots for two or four are served black with delicate little china cups. You get the length and earthiness of a filter brew but with the oily sweetness of espresso from the forced extraction. It'll give you the extra oomph you need to power through those hours of work.
The Moat Café
Beneath the glorious State Library, the Moat is located in a historic, homely bluestone building that attracts literary types, local library, arts and council workers, academics and travellers. Choose to sit on one of the outdoor seats where the street traffic of Little Lonsdale provides an interesting distraction when you need it, or sit inside and observe the happenings at the bar. As the Moat has been a partner of Melbourne Writers Festival, State Library of Victoria, the Wheeler Centre (located upstairs) and the Emerging Writers' Festival, you'll likely find someone to talk books with if you feel like a break from work. It has dependable Wi-Fi and friendly staff who are amenable to freelancers.
At Anaya Coffee, the focus is on handcrafted coffee as a gateway to an enhanced experience. We strive to source environmentally and ethically responsible beans as well as fair trade and organic ingredients. All offerings are made with care, attention to detail, and of course, love. We feature artisan-roasted beans from Counter Culture Coffee and Sweetwater Coffee Organic Coffee Roasters.
They brew a large pot at the beginning of the day and dole it out as needed. Australian coffee is espresso-based drip-style coffee, which makes it much stronger than American coffee. They make each drink individually and to order, so the coffee's not just waiting in the pot for the next customer's cup.