Digital Nomads January 7, 2020

Finding a good cafe to work out of in a new city

Anthony Castrio @AntCas

I'm not a big fan of working from home (too many distractions) or co-working spaces (too much commitment, not enough variety), so cafes are usually where I sit down to work every day. I like that my commitment is just the price of a cup of coffee and that I can mix things up a bit every day with a new working space.

But when I get to a new city I'm always starting from scratch figuring out which cafes have fast wifi, power outlets, and an overall work-friendly environment.

Back when I was living in San Francisco, my friends and I made it a point to try and visit every cafe in the city. We kept track of them all in a big shared spreadsheet we called "Cafe Grind".

Once I went nomad, I kept adding cafes to the spreadsheet wherever I went. Eventually the sheet was too big and covered too many cafes to make choices with quickly.

That was the impetus for

Please let me know if you hit any bugs. You can add cafes by clicking the "add cafe" button in the bottom right corner and adding a row to the original spreadsheet which still serves as the backend of the web app.

The website is still in beta, but I hope other nomads here will find it useful too.

  1. 2

    Awesome idea!

    This has been said before, but yeah, please make the switch to a 5-star system which is not a massive spreadsheet :) It takes more than 10 seconds to load and sift through it.

  2. 2

    Very interesting idea and execution @AntCas - it looks like a Nomad List for cafes!

    I've 2 suggestions, no sure if it's relevant:

    1. Would you consider making the 20-point scale more universal? Like the 5-star scale?
    2. What does "?" mean? No data, no input or unable to capture the number?
    1. 1

      Thanks Felix!

      re the 20ish-point scale. Others have also suggested we switch to a 5 star system. On the plus side it's got more nuance than a score out of 5, but also means new users don't understand what the numbers mean automatically. TBD

      re the '?', it means no data or not enough data to provide a score. On the TODO list to figure out how to communicate that more clearly.

  3. 2

    Love this idea - something that I could really use when on my travels. I think the spreadsheet is all you need with the ability to search by Country and City field.

  4. 2

    Loved this, thanks! The spreadsheet that reveals when clicking Add Café is a great piece of value.

  5. 2

    you have something here just need a fluid design for mobile and PC and you would be good to go .

  6. 2

    I feel this frustration so hard @AntCas! I've been traveling throughout central and south america for the past few months, and every time I try a new cafe (every day) I just have to cross my fingers and hope that they have functioning wifi. I end up tethering about half the time because it's just SUCH a crapshoot. And if I have a video call? I end up going to the dreaded starbucks because it's the only place I'm confident will have wifi (that works).

    Do you want international cafes on your site? Maybe I'll add a few in Chile for you! Because amazing ones definitely do exist... it's just not possible to know until after I've paid for my Americano!

    1. 1

      That would be amazing Patrick, the more cafes the better. There's an "add café" button in the bottom right of the site that takes you to a google sheet where you can add them.

      And if you're ever in Mexico City or Medellín we have a lot of cafes listed in those two places.

  7. 1

    I really like the idea. I imagine some people will like the spreadsheet and some people won't.
    Personally I think you should:

    1. Use a simple, mobile-friendly web form to submit rather than spreadsheet.
    2. Offer a download PDF, or csv file etc. of filtered results, i.e. if I am in London I just want to see cafés in London, not wade through a huge spreadsheet.
      Keep iterating, you will get there. How will you monetize it? Advertising I assume?
    1. 2

      Probably would be advertising. Not in active development anymore though.

      1. 1

        Thanks for letting me know, good luck with your other ventures. I love the nomad mindset.

  8. 1

    Please encourage people to buy more than 1 coffee in a working day. I also like to work in a cafe from time to time, but my spend is appropriate to the time (and never really above 3 hours). I think that due to people misusing cafes they are implementing boundaries as 30-minut internet codes or not having wifi at all*.

    • I had to leave several cafes immediately last month because of this. I even cancelled my orders (which I am not proud about). While I blame the cafe, it's possible that they just had a bad experience with some guests.
    1. 1

      Yea definitely. I'd say one coffee every 3 hours is bare minimum. Also helps a lot to tip well, they'll always want you back if you do.

      On the patron side, also had to walk out of a few cafes that didn't have wifi. Better to check first if you don't know.

      Even $5 for a coffee is a really cheap price to pay when it includes a work space for 2 to 3 hours.

  9. 1

    Nice, I'd default to map view as that's how I'd want to search for places

  10. 1

    Good idea. It's really unclear where these cafes are located though

    1. 1

      Good feedback, what would make it more clear?

  11. 1

    I once built but ended up not really liking the concept, I don't think it is till online but you can check it out on Netlify here:

    1. 1

      damn we found really similar domain names!

  12. 1

    I like the idea and could see myself using. I'd start adding some cafes if you could make it a little faster and easier with a simple web form (which could submit to the spreadsheet). One little bug I noticed is the main content window is generating two extra vertical (y-axis) scrollbars. So, in addition to the browser scrollbar, I see 3 scrollbars on the home page!

    1. 1

      Agree that a web form would be much better and it's on the do soon list. Thanks for the heads up about the scrollbars too, will fix that asap. What browser are you using?

      1. 2

        Brave desktop. Same on Chrome and Firefox. Wish I could help more, but I'm not familiar with flex-box.

  13. 1

    IDK, I find working from home the best, in case you know how to focus. Anything else is subpar. Slow, laggy Internet, no power plug around, no 2 big screens, crappy connections for calls, crappy acoustics for calls, when going to the toilet I've to be afraid that somebody steals my 4k Macbook, or I take the Macbook to the toilet, coffee is overpriced and crappy, distracted by women next to me and so on. I'll do 10x more in the same time from home.

    1. 1

      Workfrom I like but I get frustrated by how many clicks it takes to get results.

  14. 1

    I see what you're trying for but I would just recommend a little work on the UI. Emojis, Colors and Numbers oh my.
    Have you checked your results against forums like nomadlist?
    or other sites like @petrnagy is a fellow indiehacker.

    1. 1

      Yea still needs a lot of work.

      And thanks for the link, hadn't heard of them before.

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