Remote work can be the most satisfying and freeing choices for your career, but it can also be lonely. I have a lovely home office/library space. The furniture is comfy, there are plants and lots of sunlight- very inspiring. Sometimes though, I need some human interaction.
Enter coffee shops.
They have been the offices of many remote workers as our jobs move more online. There is enough noise, some people you can talk to or not, fresh coffee and usually some baked goods. The catch though is the space needs to be remote work friendly- solid tables, light, wifi and most importantly, lots of outlets! Remoters published an article that gives a great overview of all the pluses and minuses or remote work, as well as a glimpse into what the future of remote work could be. If you are currently freelancing or even working remote for a company, Remoters has some exceptional resources.
Over the past two weeks I visited all the possibilities between Panama City proper and Grayton Beach, Fl. (my new home turf). Below is my roundup best to last, but let me say I did not go anywhere that did not offer food in some way- got to have a snack when you are working for hours staring at the screen. There may be more out there…drop me a message if you think I missed one of your faves.
This one is the furthest from my home, but so worth it. There are many comfy seating options from the cushioned banquettes in the bakery are to the bar and couches in the bar room. It is busy. Always. Find your table first and then get in line to order. They give you a number and bring everything to you. The people who work there seem very happy- always smiling, chatting and refilling your coffee. The baked goods are really, really tasty. Did I say really tasty? They are! Everything is baked fresh and when they run out, they are out.
I usually order a large cup of Stumptown Coffee– the richest brew I have sampled from any of the shops. I am kind of hooked on their french toast, but I have tried croissants, pop tarts and grain bowls as well. There are outlets everywhere! Literally, every seat has an outlet right near it including the bar seats- it is a remote worker’s mecca! I stay usually 2-3 hours and nobody interrupts me except to fill coffee or pass a kind word of greeting. I never feel pressure to get out and the buzzy, hip vibe is perfect for writing. I frequent here 1-2 times a week even though it is 35 minutes from my house.
#2 The Pour
I passed this place many times before I ventured in because I was afraid it would be too faith-based. I was wrong. It is a Christian-based coffee shop, but it is so much more. They believe in their community and supporting it with transitional housing and other initiatives- they are a certified non-profit. There are some religious pieces of art on the wall, but there is also a plethora of comfy seating from couches to chairs to more traditional work tables. The decor is a mix of upcycled lighting, rugs and furniture.
I stayed for an hour my first time and it was so relaxing. It is a large space with tons of outlets. I counted eight remote workers when I first entered (always a good sign). The music is indie/folk. The staff is friendly and efficient. I had a coffee, which was nothing special just Community coffee and a pancake muffin which was really special. Baked products are house-made and pretty yummy. They also have a couple of breakfast options, but not a huge selection. This spot exudes good vibes and is a nice change from the home office.
I visited both locations, Rosemary Beach & St. Andrews, and much prefer the St. Andrews location. Rosemary Beach is a fun area, but the cafe itself is rather small and not conducive to remote work- no space to really spread out and plug in.
The location in St. Andrews is large, tons of different types of seating and outlets everywhere. The couple of times I visited, there were numerous remote workers on their laptops and conducting meetings. It is extremely remote worker friendly. There is also this independent spirit in the cafe that appeals to my own independent spirit. I love everything about this place except the food and coffee.
I worked uninterrupted for hours catching snippets of conversation about the community rebuilding after Hurricane Michael and all the new upstart businesses setting up shop. There is a fiercely proud quality to St. Andrews evident in their tagline #keepstandrewssalty and their deep support of locally-owned businesses. All of this makes me want to go here often, but the coffee was bitter both times and the two food items I tried- Spelt breakfast sandwich and muffin were dry and not very tasty. I plan to go and try ordering tea to see if that is more to my liking because I want to love this place and support it. So, in the end this places rocks for getting writing done, but the food and coffee were not as rocking.
#4 Cafe Aroma
This one is by far the closest to my house. I had really high hopes, but it was just okay. To be fair, I went thinking good coffee and a breakfast, but it was more good coffee and a donut.
They serve Lucky Goat coffee which is pretty good, a little bitter. They are really more of a lunch/deli location than breakfast. The sandwich I got was okay, but not great. The blueberry cake donut was fantastic! The space is quite large, but not many tables. This is a miss I think, at least for my purposes. There are outlets by the 7ish tables they have, but it is just not very comfortable. The space itself is a little stark and could use some cozying up. I went here twice, but did not stay for more than an hour. I think there is potential for remote work here, but it is not there yet and maybe they are catering more to the just walk in, get your coffee and donut, and leave crowd.
I lumped these together because I would not consider remote working from either one.
Sunrise Cafe is super cute inside with a very beachy vibe. Loaf has that European minimalist thing going on. Both are comfortable spots with plenty of seating. But, my major requirement of outlets are basically non-existent.
I also did not feel their breakfast and coffee options were anything to write home about. Sunrise has a limited breakfast menu, but the ingredients were just kind of mediocre (American cheese etc.) and the coffee was the run of the mill Community Coffee. I did order a latte to see how their espresso drinks were and it was weak.
Loaf has an extremely limited menu, but their baklava is outstanding. I also love their community bookshelf where you can drop a book off or pick one up. Both have their good points (European menu options for lunch etc.), but they just were not sufficient for telework.