Berlin attracts freelancers, digital nomads and start-up types from all around the world. It’s easy to see why – the whole city is filled with creative energy and the acceptance of the wild, weird and wacky makes it the perfect playground for creators.
Thanks to the demand from the growing international community, strong presence of freelancers and cafe culture that borrows from every corner of the world, the cafe scene in Berlin has really started to mature. And after a couple of years of being based here, below you’ll find some of my favourite cafes where you might find me hunched over my laptop, coffee in one hand and carrot cake in the other.
Note: It was tempting to keep these to myself, but the original article started getting more attention than I expected, so I’ve since updated the list with my new regular spots.
I love cafe culture, so it’s more important to me that their owners do well. Please be considerate when working from cafes – especially the smaller ones – and support them by buying a few things whenever you can. Don’t be the person who sits with one coffee for hours on end and gets laptops banned from yet another cafe!
Prachtwerk is an event space that also operates as a cafe during the day. It seems like they have no problem with freelancers coming in and working from the space – almost everybody has a laptop open in front of them, mostly solo but also small groups.
It’s very spacious and there’s often free seats, so you never feel like you’re taking up too much space – although that’s not an excuse to purchase a few things now and again to support them. They used to have some wifi issues, but this seems to have been sorted out now. Coffee is decent and not too expensive, making Prachtwerk a reliable spot to get some work done.
Refugio is a cafe and living space that supports refugees, whom they call “new Berliners”. I’ve been aware of Refugio for quite a while, but never actually went in. I’m glad I did!
The staff are mostly volunteers and refugees, and are always very welcoming. There’s usually plenty of seating around and is relatively uncrowded, although there’s the occasional family or tour group that might come in and hang around for a while. A nice bonus: if you’re learning German, this might be a good place to practice as people will be patient with you – and it’s also a great opportunity to help refugees with their conversational English.
Refugio also runs regular community events which I’d highly recommend checking out.
For a long time, Wilke was my secret spot – delicious brunch and cakes, friendly service and my favourite coffee in Berlin. Wilke is the result of a Boddinstraße local’s ambition to recreate Australian cafe culture right on the street that she grew up on. I’d say she succeeded, and more.
As an Sydneysider living with two Melburnian housemates just a couple of doors down, we became regulars at Wilke, coming in a least a few times a week. Complementing the coffee and food options, the space is also beautifully minimal and cosy. Turns out that the interior was designed and built by the owner, Carolin, and her dad. Lovely.
This is probably my favourite cafe in Berlin. I’ve since moved away and while I love my new area, knowing that I wouldn’t have Wilke nearby was a sad realisation.
Laidak used to be one of my locals, a sort of mix of cafe, bar and political event space. It’s got some proper grungy Kneipe vibes, but the regulars are quite young – although you do see the occasional group of grizzled Berliners smoking up a storm in the far back corner. It’s a local and unpretentious place, transitioning from coffee to beers as the day goes on.
Before I found more permanent working digs, I ended up here at least a couple of times a week. The wifi is decent and there’s usually at least a few people working here at any given time, but try not take over an entire table to yourself. Be considerate and be willing to share.
I’m not sure if Myxa is technically Kreuzberg or still Neukölln, but either way – it’s great. A friend recommended Myxa to me about a year ago and it quickly became one of my regular spots. It’s not too busy for the first couple of hours that it’s open, so I tend to try and get there early and leave before the rush starts – although it’s also a great spot to transition into lunch as well.
Myxa also becomes a bar later into the night, but it’s definitely not as grungy as Laidak and it attracts more of an expat crowd that spills over from Weserstraße. You’ll hear a lot more English here, but I’ve also heard the staff speak Greek, Spanish and – if I’m not mistaken – occasionally even some Dutch.
The Visit, Kreuzberg
The Visit’s entrance is tucked away on Adalbertstraße, barely visible from the street. Keep an eye out for the large white “we have coffee” neon sign, follow it down a small alleyway and you’ll find yourself in a little oasis amidst the chaos of Kottbusser Tor.
It’s a little pricey, but you’ll feel right at home as you quickly blend in with a dozen other caffeine-fueled freelancers. Coffee’s not bad either. Seat yourself on one of the many tables, a high chair in the corner, or on the amphitheatre-style seats near the door that might bring flashbacks to your university days.
Nah am Wasser, Neukölln
This is one of the first cafes I stumbled across when I arrived in Berlin the second time around and is still one of my favourites, whether it’s for getting some work done or to catch up with friends. There’s a dedicated outdoor area which is amazing in warm weather, and the decor of the indoor space is beautiful.
The coffees are great and cakes are delicious. They also dish out some serious foodporn in the form of brunch and lunch. Highly recommend.
Bonanza Coffee Roasters, Kreuzberg
I’d heard a lot about Bonanza from other cafe hoppers, so I thought I’d finally give it a try. There are several locations, but my closest one is the one on Adalbertstraße, in the middle of Kottbusser Tor, Görlitzer Bahnhof and Heinrich Heine Straße U-Bahn stations.
I’m updating this article right now from the long table (behind where the photographer would be standing in the photo above). As you’d expect, it has great coffee and good wifi in a tastefully designed space with muted colours, lots of wood and greenery. I’ll definitely be coming here more often in the coming months.
These cafes are my current favourites, but I also like:
- CAMON Coffee
- Isla Coffee
- Karl Says Relax
- Populus (for the decor and pastries)
- Klunkerkranich (during the day)
I’ve also been meaning to visit 19grams Schlesi and Leuchtstoff Kaffeebar, and occasionally I head out of my Kiez to Oslo Kaffebar and Westberlin, though it’s been a while since I’ve been. Sadly, my old favourite – Betahaus Cafe – is no longer open.
If you have any other places for me to check out, let me know in the comments! And once again, don’t be “that guy” who buys one coffee and stays for hours. Support your local cafes and buy something!