Coffeehouses for Working

Mar 22, 2009

In those first couple months after college, there’s a lot of sitting around wondering what a bachelor of arts will get you. So at first you sit at home – then you get bored. So then you sit around coffeehouses with your similarly degreed friends looking for jobs and reworking resumes. This is a lot of your time, so you have to change venues on occasion. My friends and I are experts on this post-college sitting in coffeeshops. Pasadena has the most delightful places for caffeine, with great environments beneficial to working – or procrastinating. That depends on you. Here are some great places with table space and wireless, for all of your laptop needs.  To enjoy these you don’t need to be in this awkward phase. They are good for any stage of coffee-loving life.

Mural at Cafe de Leche.

Mural at Cafe de Leche.

Cafe de Leche
Cafe de Leche just opened up in December. I know this because there’s a prominently displayed certificate signed by Mayor Villaraigosa congratulating them on opening in December. It is now my favorite place to be. A little one-room place on the corner of York and Avenue 50 in Highland Park, it is filled with small wooden tables that are always cluttered with laptops. For better or worse, they are always the same white MacBooks, which is both creepy and comforting — if you have a white MacBook. Each table has two or three plugs, so there is no chance you’ll run out of power while searching for jobs on Craigslist for the third time that day. The back corner is carpeted and full of toys and books for kids, which draws dozens of hipster parents with their stylish children. There aren’t many items on the menu, but everything is delicious. A great new spot, highly recommended. 5000 York Blvd., Highland Park,

One of the two South Pas hot spots, Buster’s has a second floor, more table space than its rival Kaldi, and just as many indie kids. I would particularly recommend the upstairs bar overlooking Mission Street. If you’re not sure what to write about, something will appear on the street to inspire you. The second floor is typically the quietest, if that is beneficial to your work habits. But beware of Fosselman’s. Many times I have come to Buster’s intending to work and sip some tea, only to find myself full of peppermint ice cream. I don’t really have a problem with this, but in case you might, I thought I would warn you. All around, a good cafe environment for work. 1006 Mission St., South Pasadena.

Kaldi being cool.

Kaldi being cool.

The other side of the South Pasadena debate, Kaldi is definitely a scene. It’s great for working if you are a twentysomething indie kid, or if you don’t mind being looked at strangely by twentysomething indie kids. Needless to say, before I became one of those twentysomethings, I found it an odd place. Now it’s great, with table space and great coffee. Most of the time it is wonderfully quiet and appropriately toasty. If it’s a nice day, consider taking up residency at one of the many sidewalk tables. Definitely check out the excellent Mexican hot chocolate. Note: The workers who will benefit the most from this environment will be those working on their next self-reflexive novel. Just a thought. 1019 El Centro St., South Pasadena.

Bean Town
Sometimes I forget how adorable Sierra Madre is. If you feel you might be forgetting, too, head on over to Bean Town the next time you have a book to read or an assignment to finish. It’s fantastic — plenty of chairs and tables, some couches, and free wireless. You’ll find Fosselman’s and all sorts of pastries, as well as a great selection of coffee and tea — although the last time I was there the barista had no idea how much loose leaf to put in a tea bag. I like my tea dark, but this incident nearly killed me with tannic acid. This doesn’t stop me from loving this friendly place, a perfect setting for a calm task. 45 N. Baldwin Ave., Sierra Madre,

Zona Rosa
Although I find Zona Rosa a better spot for a quick chat than a long work day, people I know insist it’s one of the best places to write in Pasadena. I’ll often convince friends to grab a coffee there as an excuse to hop over to Vroman’s, so maybe the feelings are similar. The small second floor has the most laptop-friendly tables and a pleasantly quiet atmosphere. As all Pasadenans know, the coffees, teas and hot chocolates are excellent. My favorite is always the Mexican hot chocolate. Parking is sometimes tight, but once you find a spot for your car it’s easy to find a spot for yourself to happily spend a couple of hours. 15 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena,

The Coffee Gallery
A staple of northern Pasadena and Altadena life, the Coffee Gallery is a well-known work and meeting space. Located conveniently on Lake Avenue, the cafe is funky but practical. For instance, it has a conference room that can be rented for your next big meeting — as long as it does not interfere with the regularly scheduled massage therapist or the watercolor workshop. Service can be slow, but if you’re sitting around working, will you really be counting the minutes? It also has concerts almost every night, some quite good, so even if you don’t want to work, you should keep up with the lineup. A friendly local spot. 2029 Lake Ave., Altadena,

11 Responses for “Coffeehouses for Working”

  1. My fav post of yours. I certainly like this more than your “songs” posting. Since when has ZonaRose gone WiFi??

  2. How about The Novel Cafe in Pasadena….1713 E. Colorado Blvd……!! Organic, fair trade coffees and teas! Free Wi-Fi, and we recycle our used kitchen oil into Biofuel.

  3. colleen says:

    Melynda, thanks for letting us know! I love the Novel Cafe in Ocean Park and didn’t even know you had one in Pasadena. We’ll get over there ASAP.

  4. Yes, I’ve known about the newest Novel in Pasadena for a while now. But, just haven’t put the time in to ck it out. At least it looks good from the outside looking in! Hope PCC students find this.

  5. Skylar says:

    Awesome, I’ll definitely have to head over there. Thanks for the suggestion!

  6. B Moision says:

    I would add Central Grounds, the little coffee cart outside the Central Library. It’s where I head when I want to work caffeinated. They have good coffee and snacks, good service, and a great location–you can slip inside the library, post-jolt, to work. I only wish they would extend their hours to the weekends.

  7. D Brandvik says:

    What about Café Zephyr? Great place to work during the day – with free wifi and with a great garden patio.

  8. colleen says:

    Yes, good call. I love that place– it’s pretty and peaceful. We were just trying to keep the list short and sweet. But that’s a very worthy spot.

  9. Akatz says:

    There is a new (maybe about 6 months old) little coffee stop in the William’s Sonoma Courtyard. I happened upon it when waiting for breakfast at Green Street. Quaint little place with great coffee and the famed Clover brewer. I think they feature roasters as I’ve had coffee from two prominent specialty coffee roasters. (Intelligentsia Coffee and Klatch Roasting)

    Cool little place to hang out and study and drink some good brew.

  10. John G says:

    I love hitting up Jones Coffee Roasters for working on my laptop ( The seating area is pretty small, but the coffee is great and I love the atmosphere of sitting in a working roastery…with free wi-fi. The baristas are pretty cool, too.

  11. Skylar says:

    I love their coffee, I’ve had it a million times, but I have yet to go to Jones and find a parking spot. I guess it’s just my bad luck, because I’ve heard it’s a great little place. Someday I’ll find a way to get in there…



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