Feb 23, 2012

Top 5 Melbourne Work-Friendly Cafes

I do business, man. I'm a businessman. Technically. I work from home, so I'll often step out of the shack with my iPad in tow and grab a bite to eat at a cafe. Melbourne is full of varied cafes, each of them carrying their own blend of food style and coffee. Whether it's meeting a prospective client for a chat or finding somewhere with wifi while you gulp and type, here's a handy guide to the best places to work and eat in Melbourne: the Top 5 work-friendly cafes in Melbourne.

Maison Ama Lurra
About a year ago, The Age ran an article using the awful word 'coffice' - coffee and office - to describe the growing trend of entrepreneurs and freelancers using cafes as offices. Maison Ama Lurra featured as one of the prime choices, so off I went. The food tends towards entree sized Italian foods and classic breakfasts, served on rustic wooden plates or small cutting boards. The quality of the ingredients are high and fresh. The staff are the best for those with a meeting in mind. They'll show you the two specially designed function rooms, replete with A/V equipment. All you have to do is order food for your group: up to about 15 can fit. The wi-fi is free, you just have to ask for the password. The clientele are usually suited or shirt-and-tied up, ranging in the late 30s and beyond.

Seven Seeds
The coffee! Oh man, the coffee! Seven Seeds are a specialty coffee shop with a very trendy vibe and no reservations. The big solid door gives way to an ancient wood appointed open space venue with brick and high ceilings. It's a little small, but the young hipster and creative crowd seem happy to huddle close by at the communal slab tables. The toasties here are divine, with fancy filling like walnut jam and spiced pumpkin heated to perfection. You'll get swiss, not cheddar. This is a great place to meet that advertising client or have a meet up with your freelance designer. No internet connection when I was there last, so there's that. It's location is tucked away in a back alley, a mainstay of the cafes and bars in Melbourne that project that sense of casual cool. Bring your outer-city or corporate compadre here to show them a gem.

The Corner Shop
Yarraville in Melbourne's west has sprung up as a competitor to Brunswick (increasingly thuggish and exploited) and St Kilda (faded remnant of what it once was) as the place for young professionals to go. The Corner Shop exemplifies the spirit of this tiny suburb: dog-friendly, open, airy, light, serving upscale versions of breakfast and lunch. This cafe is best suited to weekend lunches with co-workers or associates. You can come dressed for summer, enjoy a beer out back or sit at one the two-people inside tables surrounding the large square communal table. Again, no wi-fi, but for a Saturday catch up or Friday night strategy session, I've found The Corner Shop indispensable as a casual, chatty, atmospheric go to.

1000 £ Bend
Right smack in the middle of the city, 1000 Pound Bend is one of the newer entries, eschewing the traditional table and stiff chair set up with a couches and mismatched chairs strewn about the place instead. Free wi-fi with the password on the chalkboard, you can check your email while goldfish bubble about around you. The venue also has an art gallery and upstair room used for cinema screenings and presentations. We were there the other day for the Comedy Festival info sessions, and beer was available upstairs as well as down. The food is on the, well, hippy side, with a lot of organic and veggie based dishes. The lounge setting sets this cafes apart from the others in this list, and the clientele actually range from the aforementioned hippies to corporates both young and old, so jump in while the crowd is mixed.

The Lawson Grove Shop
I thought it only fair to include one cafe south of the river. The Lawson Grove Shop was recommended to me, and it stands as very typical of the sort of cafe one might find down south. It's pretentious, but the food is great, if a little overpriced. The atmosphere is strong, full of young folk, hipsters and South Yarra families. Its location is exciting, wedged into a corner of a hillside apartment complex, surrounded by vines and greenery. To do a bit of work might be difficult over the weekends, but a weekday can secure you a countertop or a communal wooden slab table. No WiFi, but worth a visit for some email plugging in the summer shade or spring turning.
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