I’ve said it once, I’ve said it again: Durham needs more places to work remotely.
Though I have my issues with Raleigh, I like their coffee shops better. Cafe de los Muertos is colorful and cozy, Joule is peaceful (during the week) and the food is incredible. Durham, however, lacks little pockets to hole up and get shit done.
I was thinking about this the other day, so I took an entire week to explore the areas I haven’t visited to see what their WFH situation was. Here’s what I found.
When you’re working at Beyu, expect to have a time limit. While there’s no rule set in place, their new location is gorgeous and always really busy. Outlet space is a bit limited, their friendly staff will come to you and ask if you want another coffee or some food, and after awhile, you’ll just feel guilty and leave.
At night, they frequently have live music which is great…. just not when you’re at your computer. I went there once with the intention of getting some stuff done, but left with a $20 tab and barely any work to show for it. For a first date, sure, head over to Beyu. If you’re looking to buckle down, don’t expect to spend more than an hour here.
Cocoa Cinnamon (Geer Street)
Cocoa Cinnamon was one of the first coffee shops I visited in Durham. It looks really, really cool, reminding me a lot of the upstairs at Morning Times in downtown Raleigh. But that includes the downsides of MT, too. This place is small. Though it definite succeeds at feeling intimate and cozy, you’re brushing elbows when it’s busy.
I’ve tried to go here multiple times to plug in and work. I have never found seating with ease, many times, just ending up crunched up between two people. Plugs are competitive, it can be loud, and though you can always go outside – make sure your laptop is charged. No plugs out there.
Also, and I know this might be an unpopular opinion – I don’t really dig what they have there. Don’t get me wrong, the coffee and tea selection is ridiculous, but expensive. I bought a rose-petal cocoa there once, not knowing what it was but thinking it sounded cool, and literally got a cold cup of hot chocolate with leaves dumped in it. It was $7.
Cocoa Cinnamon (Hillsborough Road)
I recently went to their Hillsborough location, which seems to have resolved a lot of working remotely problems from their first location. This space is a lot bigger, with the seating areas more spread out. There’s still the plug struggle (which to be fair, is an issue anywhere but your house), but I feel like I can breathe here.
I got a kick-ass Sisterlove tea and felt like I could actually enjoy it. They don’t have wine, which is a bummer, but I bumped this place to the top of my list of places to work.
Joe Van Gogh
Joe Van Gogh is one of the best coffee shops in Durham. Period. It’s not on a main street, which is awesome. It’s busy in the morning, but at certain times, almost empty. There’s a loft area with ample seating and outlets. It’s quiet and while their selection isn’t extensive, it’s solid.
I wouldn’t go there to eat, though they do have some small snacks. I used to live two blocks away and came here a lot. I was never disappointed in the service, always found a seat, and I’ll continue to go back there.
George’s Java, which is on 9th Street, is in a great location. It’s a quiet coffee shop that not a lot of people have on their radar, which can work to your benefit. They play classical music there a lot, it’s really relaxing and the whole vibe is pleasant.
Their coffee drinks are more dessert-y, and there’s a lack of breakfast snacks (the best I could find was a cold bagel and cream cheese), but I’d give this place another go. There wasn’t a ton of seating, but that’s fine when the place isn’t packed.
Bull MacCabes is a great place to work, especially during the afternoon. I like to go there when I’m feeling particularly rich, aka, as soon as I get paid. I can get a burger and a Bloody Mary, sit in one of the booths, and work for awhile without being bothered.
However, during it’s peak, Bull’s is pretty busy. I don’t like being the person who takes up an entire booth when it’s a rush time, so you have to be strategic when you decide to pop in. I have to give my former boss, Jake, credit for this find – it’s one of his favorite places in Durham, and he gave me the idea of working from there. Outlets are limited and remember, it’s a bar.
9th Street Bakery
I’ll be the first to admit it – I don’t like working from 9th Street. It’s not a good place to sit with your laptop. It’s an awesome place to get food and hang out, but you’re going to feel uncomfortable there a half hour or so in.
You can sit inside, which I haven’t tried, but there just isn’t a ton of seating. I personally don’t really like working with my laptop outside, because of the glare. But if you’re okay with that, this can be a good choice for you. I would just feel awkward being there for awhile.
West End Wine Bar
I feel terribly romantic when I sit at West End Wine Bar, probably because it’s so close to the Amtrak station. The wine by glass can rack up a pretty hefty tab, but some nights, it’s so quiet, it’s worth it. I really like their space, and feel like I can focus there.
I like sitting at the bar and reading a book or writing a post. There’s outlets across the bar as well, so it’s a good place to recharge, especially if you’re coming to/from the train station. Sometimes they have events there, and it’s probably wise to avoid it during those.