North, south, east, west: which freelancer café does it best?

So, now that I’m supposed to be a freelancer (I say “supposed to” because in fact I seem to do most of my work for just one client: Eating Amsterdam), I’m free to do midday yoga lessons, buy all my food from the local market, and spend hours sipping flat whites in hipster cafes… Of course, in reality I have never taken a yoga lesson in my life (at any time of day), I am still too lazy to traipse around a dozen market stalls, and my laptop is so old and clunky that it doesn’t like to move from its permanent position at my desk (or maybe that’s just its owner).

Still, when I can tear myself away from the convenience of a big screen, separate keyboard, ancient non-wireless mouse and piles of notebooks (yes, I’ve essentially just set up a MegaCorp desk in my own home – pathetic), I do occasionally enjoy a change of scenery and a cappuccino at a local café. Plus, when you’re a freelancer, you have no such thing as a meeting room – so the café becomes the boardroom, and the barrister the office manager. So here’s my roundup of the best coffee in Amsterdam – wherever you’re freelancing in the city.

best coffee amsterdam

North: Espressofabriek

I’ve categorized Espressofabriek as north, but since I clearly never go to Amsterdam Noord (as you can see by the shameful paucity of pins on my map!), this place is actually in Westerpark. It’s about as far north as you can get in central Amsterdam, ok? Espressofabriek really does serve as my boardroom: I’ve had meetings with dozens of prospective business contacts here, and they do a fine flat white every time. (I didn’t hear great reports about the Americano, however.) If you’re feeling peckish, they also serve muffins and pastries, although the muffin I tried was small, dry and crumbly.

There’s a big table in the middle that’s good for perching your laptop on while you read the news. But it’s nowhere near any power sockets, so any actual work is short-lived. There’s free wi-fi, and if you vacate to one of the small tables round the edge of the room, there are a few plug sockets too. But try balancing a laptop as big and crusty as mine alongside a coffee and a muffin on a table size of a pita bread and it’s an accident waiting to happen. Plus, the high ceilings and huge glass door means it’s a rather chilly working environment 90% of the time.

  • Coffee rating: 4/5
  • Freelancer rating: 2/5

South: Concerto Koffie

One for the musos, Concerto Koffie is in fact a huge music store and coffee shop in one. So big is it that Concerto spans the ground floor of three buildings (or was it four?) side by side, one of which is devoted to the sale of coffee, breakfast, lunch and cakes. The coffee claims to be single estate, and was tasty enough to this non-expert. I sadly didn’t get the chance to try the food.

Concerto’s wi-fi comes without a password (always handy, I find), and there are heaps of huge vintage tables and sofas dotted around that make work feel almost fun. At any rate, there’s plenty of room to spread out your notebooks… And if you’re feeling bored, there’s about a gazillion records to browse through till you get past that creative block.

  • Coffee rating: 4/5
  • Freelancer rating: 5/5

East: Filter

Over near Amsterdam’s botanical gardens, Filter is actually the front half of an eco-hostel/hotel complex called Ecomama that opened earlier in 2014. It’s uncharacteristically spacious for Amsterdam, with light flooding through its street-side double doors and filtering through to the accommodation at the back of the building. The café itself serves up organic treats, including smoothies and sarnies, and the coffee beans that go into Filter’s caffeinated drinks (including – obviously – filter coffee) come from Headfirst Roasters (see below), I’m reliably informed by The Coffeevine.

Filter Amsterdam coffee

I don’t remember my cappuccino being quite up to Headfirst’s, but Filter’s large wooden tables, free wi-fi and bright airy space make for a relaxed working environment that isn’t too distracting from the task at hand.

  • Coffee rating: 4/5
  • Freelancer rating: 5/5

West: Headfirst Coffee Roasters

Arguably the king of coffee shops, Headfirst Coffee Roasters has the added bonus of being staffed by several extremely cute hipster barristas. Would you like a trilby hat and a killer beard with your flat white, madam? Don’t mind if I do.

However, while the coffee is legendary and the décor inviting, Headfirst comes with one major drawback for freelancers: there’s no wi-fi! Now, I’m sure they do this to promote actual conversation between real people, etc, etc, and that’s all very well and good. Just don’t bother carting your laptop all the way there expecting it to serve as anything other than a mild bicep workout.

  • Coffee rating: 5/5
  • Freelancer rating: 1/5

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