We’ve entered a new age where work does not always call for an office. Still, sometimes it’s better for your focus to find a café to keep the workflow going (and not collapse into a Netflix marathon). A good wifi café, though, is hard to find. There are a lot of places that have the right atmosphere but no Internet. Some have the Internet, but no atmosphere. And then there are some places with time limits based on how much money you spent on coffee and pastries. Why should tea drinkers be punished just because it’s less expensive? To find the good ones you have to know where to look. These 9 San Francisco cafes are a great place to start, where the wifi is free, the coffee flows and the atmosphere is calm.
This cozy Outer Sunset café always has a line that snakes out there door and the live edge communal table at the front is always full of new moms socializing after dropping their kids off at preschool, but if you snag a spot along the back wall, it’s easy to forget there are even other people around. Order a latte and a muffin (mmm, cornmeal and blueberry) and settle into your seat. The best part? Whenever you need a brief break, just look up and watch the staff baking more fresh pastries.
With sky-high ceilings, pure white walls and tiles and light teak chairs and benches, Saint Frank is the open space your mind needs. Add to that a great soundtrack playing from above and you don’t even need to put in your headphones. The baristas are always super friendly and willing to accommodate your many coffee questions. Saint Frank has locations in both Russian Hill and the Mission, on the cusp of the burgeoning Mid-Market District.
When you need inspiration, Matching Half in SF's Nopa neighborhood is the perfect destination. This funky corner café not only has a delicious egg sandwich that will fuel you up for the day, but it is the muted gray walls, bistro globe pendants and a beautiful stained glass peacock in the window provide the perfect atmosphere for creative concentration. Did we mention their cappuccino is the perfect combination of bitter and sweet? It makes working feel like a day at the spa.
What makes this café (with locations in both SOMA and SF's Financial District) great is that it is an actual workspace: you can reserve a seat for two or three dollars an hour. But if you’re pinching pennies, find a spot in the front lounge or patio outside where you can still access the wifi but don’t have to pay for it. They serve breakfast all day long or you can order a light Kaleocado salad for lunch. All around feels like an office environment with people meeting and networking or busily working away on their laptops. It’s an excellent location to meet for a coffee or get into the zone by yourself.
What’s better than a wifi café? A wifi café that becomes a bar as the day progresses. Welcome to Social Study, in the city's Fillmore District. This brick-lined café has the atmosphere of your impossibly hip and intellectual friend’s loft with a DJ booth in a plywood loft above. The soundtrack is always on point with some old school hip-hop and lounge beats and as the evening goes on they’ll even put a movie up on a projector. Just tell your friends to meet you there for happy hour and the office becomes the perfect hangout.
If you like to work in a quasi-industrial environment, then Flywheel in the Upper Haight is for you. Roasting equipment is on prominent display and running while you work. Pro tip: bring headphones because the drone of the machines can get a tad annoying and the spot doesn’t really have great music. But once you caffeinate with an Americano and find your spot at a high top steel table, you’ll be in the zone and ready to go for hours on end. The barista bar looks like a cross with a science lab with beakers on display and the pour-over station always at the ready.
While there are some limits to the hours of the Internet here (they turn it off from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. to accommodate the lunch rush), this downtown cafe just several blocks west of the Embarcadero is a great place to hang for the morning or afternoon. Their Moroccan Iced Tea is always refreshing, and the croissant sandwich is award-winning. Be open to sharing communal tables with likeminded workers and who knows, you might even make a new business connection.