Berlin attracts freelancers, digital nomads and start-up types from all around the world. It’s easy to see why – the whole city oozes with creative energy and the acceptance of the wild, weird and wacky makes it the perfect playground for creators.
Thanks to the demands of the growing international community and cafe culture that borrows from every corner of the world, the cafe scene in Berlin is booming. And as an adopted Berliner and Kreuzkölln* native, here are some of my favourite Berlin cafes where you might find me hunched over my laptop (and eating cake).
*Kreuzkölln refers to the combined areas of Neukölln and Kreuzberg, a growing hotspot of bars, cafes, music and culture.
1The 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.
You’ll be paying hipster prices for both food and coffee, but you’ll also be getting top quality as you blend in with a dozen other caffeine-fueled freelancers. 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. When you’re done, be sure to walk around a little outside – the “Kotti” (Kottbusser Tor) area is one of the most interesting areas in Berlin.
2Isla Berlin, Neukölln
Not to be mistaken with a nail salon of the same name, Isla is one of my favourite local cafes with great coffee and fast wifi. It’s on the smaller side, which means it can get rather busy on weekends, but is a great place to hang out for a while and get some work done during the week.
These guys are serious about their coffee. Their walls are covered in Aeropress competition posters, and (so far) this is the only place in Berlin that I’ve found that serves a piccolo! I’ve never arrived at Isla early enough to try the breakfast and brunch menu, but the food photos on their Instagram page look amazing as well.
3Karls Cafe, Neukölln
Karls Cafe is located close by Karl-Marx-Straße station with a the sign above the door advises: “Karl says relax”. Any guesses on which Karl they’re talking about?
This cafe-cum-hostel is a surprisingly comfortable place to get some work done. Ask for the wifi password, take your pick of a table or the couch and get going. The coffee, cakes and paninis are also quite reasonably priced, likely because this is a little further away from the hipster hotspots near Hermannplatz. If you get hungry, there are some cheap, tasty food options nearby as well.
Once you get over the odd name, you’ll begin to notice the common theme of the stickers and posters plastered everywhere. “No place for Nazis”, “Refugees welcome” and “No border. No nation.” reflect the mentalities of many Germans in the area, who have embraced an inclusive attitude towards newcomers.
Pick a table that doesn’t have a “no laptop here!” sticker and get productive. This is a local place which means it’s relatively cheap and unpretentious, but it also means that they might not appreciate people sitting with their laptops for hours on end. There’s a indoor smoking area with plenty of tables as well, which you might want to avoid (or enjoy). You can also sit outside and enjoy the bustle of Weserstraße in the summertime.
5Nah Am Wasser, Neukölln
This is one of the first cafes I stumbled across when I arrived in Berlin the second time around and has since become one of the 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.
Coffees are great, cakes are delicious, and the wifi is fast. They also dish out some serious foodporn in the form of brunch and lunch. Highly recommend.
6Populus Coffee, Neukölln
I have a serious soft spot for the Maybachufer canal area. It turns into a Turkish market several days a week and is just a great place to hang out, especially when it’s warm. It’s also lined with great cafes, one of which is the Finnish-owned Populus Coffee.
You can see the beautiful Nordic touches everywhere you look, and the coffee is fantastic. Find a your own cosy, minimalist corner and get to work – maybe with a couple of baked goodies.
7Schankwirtschaft Laidak, Neukölln
I still haven’t figured out exactly what Laidak is – some sort of mix of cafe, pub and pro-socialist event space. It’s political but accepting, hipster but grungy, small but comfortable. Before I found more permanent working digs, I usually ended up here at least a couple of times a week. You’ll often find at least a few people working here at any given time, just don’t hog an entire table to yourself. Be considerate.
Like K-Fetisch, it’s a local place – cheap and unpretentious – with a smoking area that sometimes leaks into the main space is it gets further into the night.
If you already know about Klunkerkranich, you might be surprised by this mention. Yes, there’s no wifi. Yes, it’s not really a cafe. But it’s still one of my favourite places to get (offline) work done, not to mention an amazing place to watch the sunset with a few beers.
Klunkerkranich is somehow both well-known and hidden, located on the top floor of Neukölln Arcaden. You can get there by making your way there by taking the elevator as high as you can go and walking up the ramp – and you’ll be welcomed by a great view over the rooftops of Berlin, a huge outdoor area and leafy surroundings. Perhaps keep this for Friday afternoons, when you can afford to be offline for a few hours before winding down for the weekend. I’d recommend getting there early, as it gets very busy later in the afternoon and into the evening.
These 8 cafes are my favourite local places to get productive, but occasionally I like to venture out a little further to some other great places in the city including Betahaus Cafe, Oslo Kaffebar and Westberlin. I’ve also heard great things about Kaffee 9, ZAZZA Gourmet Rösterei, 19 grams, Leuchtstoff Kaffeebar – all of which are also the Kreuzkölln area.