Where To Work When You Can’t Work From Home

By on March 11, 2019

The expansive interior at Blue Hippo Coffee Co.

A few weeks ago, I arrived to the Bay Street train station parking lot at 10:10 a.m., nine glorious minutes prior to the next train departure, which is plenty of time for a mom commuter like me to finish primping and gingerly make her way to the train platform in heels. However, since it was at the back end of the prime commuter hours, every single parking spot was taken. Crestfallen, I made my way out of the parking deck a lot slower than I had driven in.

The rain was coming down hard; and the sky was a somber shade of metal. Surely, it was one of those days where working from home is a hundred times more agreeable than taking on mass transit. AND had a great excuse: I made every attempt to come in to work but force majeure prevented me. I missed my train; I tried! But the thought of my chilly home office on this somber day versus the lively office interaction made me think twice about heading back home. Thus, I decided I would do the cool thing and “work from a coffee shop” like all the young kids do. After all, I love coffee.

My first thought was Starbucks (Park Avenue and Church Street, Montclair). Recently redone, dependable coffee, cool vibe… what is not to like? I had even seen people working, even interviewing, there. The thought of once again searching for a spot, possibly failing once again dissuaded me. I opted for a smaller place in Upper Montclair instead. Support local business, I thought, and triumphantly marched myself into Java Love (49 Church Street, Upper Montclair), proud of my decision. Something about the humidity in the air and the added warmth of the hot beverage equipment made the place a little stifling. But no bother! My teenage daughter and her chirpy friends love this place, often coming here on weekends to do homework. I would love it too! The Cure was blasting just a tad too loudly and I worried that the noise would distract me from getting any work done. I decided to ignore my sprouting headache; so I hung my coat on a ready hook and located a perfect perch with a wall outlet at the ready. With a large cappuccino and a box of water in hand, I cheerily connected to their wifi.

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+ The drinks are delicious; yummy pastries and healthy fare as well
+ Bustling work and social crowd
+ Good overall place to work if you don’t mind the….
– Loud music and the overly lively crowd
– Baristas could be more congenial

Two hours in and a raging headache later, I fled the cranked-up 80s tunes and was Verona-bound. It didn’t take too long!

The zen of the second floor at the Verona Public Library.

As I passed the newly-renovated Verona Public Library, I decided that maybe some peace and quiet was just what I needed. Having recently toured the space during the grand opening, I remembered that there was ample seating comfortable working space. So, I parked right in front (there are additional “Library Patron” spots on the right side of the building as well) and ventured in.

From the minute I walked in, I knew I would connect my laptop here for the rest of the day. The first floor was quiet and brimming with comfortable working areas. The second floor however, was absolute Nirvana, and I don’t mean the loud rock band type. This place was quiet and welcoming, with several nooks and crannies available to set up a productive work space. Several patrons were there already, and appeared as committed to working as I was. The large, picturesque windows overlooking Gould Street were a plus and suddenly transformed the rain on the windowpanes into a pretty vignette.

+ For $1 you can make your own coffee
+ Well-located outlets to keep all your equipment humming; excellent wifi
+ Plenty of good reads to pick up on the way out!
– When the kids get out of school it could get a little loud
– Coffee is meh, and you have to make it yourself (no fancy baristas)

The work from coffee shop bug had bitten me. The following week, I decided I would “work from home” one day and check out other local joints. I visited Blue Hippo Coffee Co. (662 Bloomfield Avenue, Verona) on a Friday afternoon and set up shop. The owner is friendly and has an enthusiastic staff. Best of all there is plenty of work-conducive seating and (almost too many) delectable snacks, lunch foods and sweets to keep the energy levels up all day. The coffee is quite good. My favorite is the cappuccino, which they can make iced or hot.

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+ Wifi is great and if you go to the back there is a comfortable seating area for a relaxed conference call
+ You have to try the mini donuts
+ Great lighting and inviting staff
– It closes at 4 p.m. so get all your work done early!
– Parking can be a bear but if you don’t mind crossing Bloomfield Avenue without the added benefit of a crossing guard, you can probably score a spot across the street

Nest stop, just past the Verona border lies Jola Coffee (15 Bloomfield Avenue, North Caldwell). The working areas, like the place itself are, in my daughter’s words, “ridiculously small”. But what the place lacks in size, it makes up in personality and character. If you’re one of those people who has a big laptop and likes to spread out, this may not be the place for you, but if your work needs are compact, head over here for delicious coffee and unique, healthy bites.

+ Recommend the little power “bites”, which come in packs of 2; healthy and satisfy the sweet tooth
+ Friendly staff, great coffee, easy parking
+ The more you go the more points you can earn
– Small work space, although I did see several people neatly typing away on their mini laptops

What is your favorite place to work from home and is the coffee good? What kind of places would you like to hear about next? Email us at [email protected]

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  1. Amelia Rice

    March 11, 2019 at 8:32 am

    Crazy Mocha, Dolce Marie, Cedar Beans –

  2. Bridget P

    March 12, 2019 at 3:11 am

    Thanks for the tips. I look forward to trying out our newly remodeled library.

  3. Liz

    March 12, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    Great article. Thanks for highlighting your experience at the newly renovated Verona Library. It truly is a wonderful space!

  4. Ra

    March 15, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    10:10 a.m. at Bay Street? Come now, any local commuter knows if you show up after 7:30 to Bay there is a good chance the lot is full much less 3 hours later.

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