I am still using an ancient (by techie standards) laptop, but I have officially become a part of the locally ubiquitous “freelancer working in a pseudo-public space so I don’t hide in my home-cave and never see sunlight” generation. Starbucks and Panera seem to pop up on people’s radar as options, but I’ve never been a big Starbucks fan, and Panera has some great corners in which to hide, but it also gets busy. While I know busy surroundings are attractive to some people, I prefer being ignored and alone – to a degree. Which goes against the whole idea of leaving the house at all, but there you go. I’ve found some lovely places to hide-out in plain sight lately. And happily, most have amazing coffee or other beverages to keep me focused. Please add other comfortable and coffee/WiFi friendly places in comments. Thanks!
My favorite place is Terra Cafe at the Isabel Rose, located in the Montclair Library at 50 South Fullerton Avenue. With more tables and chairs and lots of window space, its WiFi is fast, and the Chai Latte is amazing. There is a wide variety of snacking treats, and they also offer the elevenses and lunch menu have plenty to keep you from having to search for sustenance elsewhere. The one drawback is that the Terra’s hours are tied to the library. They open at 10 a.m. on weekdays – a late start for some of us. Still, that Chai Latte…
Trend Coffee and Tea House at 411 Bloomfield Avenue is a Baristanet favorite – and for good reason. Newly expanded, it’s comfortable, eclectic, open, and has great nooks for either being seen (window seat) or hiding (new back room). The tea selection and coffees are very good. The only disappointment I’ve had is the chai latte which always seems to lack enough steeping. However, the selection of salads, sandwiches, quiche (gluten-free or lotsa gluten), and dangerously gorgeous baked goods will draw anyone with taste-buds into the the place again and again. They’ve also recently started having open mic nights to add to their hip factor. Trend has a municipal parking lot just behind its space, which makes it easy to get there even if you don’t live nearby.
Plum on Park at 14 Park Street is much smaller, but also comfortable and delicious. They serve a fantastic cappuccino, and the small plates are perfect for a late breakfast. The soups are fantastic, and the owner even bakes her own gluten-free bread in a dedicated kitchen. I can personally vouch for the ricotta, strawberries, and honey on toasted grain bread (not GF). So good!
Gina’s Bakery at 110 Walnut Street only has three tiny tables, but they will share their WiFi if you’re staying for a while. I had dropped off my car around the corner, and found this out by accident and necessity. The cappuccino is excellent, and the treats are, well, the best kind of deliciousness. If you can snag the back corner table, it’s comfy enough and out of the way. The spinach croissants are amazing, as is just about everything else at Gina’s.
The IHOP at 1129 Broad Street (just north of Watchung Avenue) in Bloomfield advertises free WiFi along with their steak under $10! I have long admired their bottomless pot of coffee (was I the only child who wondered how they did that?), and of course their pancakes with various accoutrements are famous. This is the place to go if you truly want to hide away and be left alone. If you wear dark glasses and an old baseball cap you can leave ’em wondering how famous you actually are. (Very!)
There are many other user-friendly locations around Montclair. The Office, Whole Foods, and Sunrise Bagels all welcome laptops, as far as I know. And basically, the one rule is golden: Be a good guest. That means, buy more than just a coffee, and don’t hog space you don’t need. Happy working!