Have caffeine, will work: The best C’ville coffee shops for working remotely

Photos: Stephen Barling, Jack Looney, Eze Amos, Tom McGovern Photos: Stephen Barling, Jack Looney, Eze Amos, Tom McGovern

What could be better than getting out of your home office or work site for a few hours, sipping a macchiato, and getting sh*t done in a buzzy coffee shop? Luckily for us, options abound in Charlottesville. Here are our top five picks for the local java spots most conducive to that sweet #teleworklife. (Note: All locations listed offer free Wi-Fi plus outlets to plug in.)

Shenandoah Joe (945 Preston Ave.)

Vibe: Restoration Hardware-meets-“Friends’” Central Perk. Think industrial concrete floors, black, white and beige tones—a super-chill, meditative space to get some work done. That’s Shenandoah Joe’s on Preston Avenue. Take a seat at one of the communal tables, comfy sofas, or oversized armchairs. The cozy yet minimalist-modern space always seems to be teeming with coffee- imbibers, but you can still likely find a place to perch with your laptop. Noise levels are moderate at its busiest. Plus, you are right across the street from what is destined to be another future tele-working hotspot, Dairy Market, so when you’ve worn out your welcome here, you’ll be able to hop across the street.

Mudhouse (213 W. Main St., Downtown Mall)

Vibe: Like walking into a friend’s moody yet welcoming den. The Downtown Mall is where all the action happens, and the Mudhouse is often the center of the buzz. Walk inside and you’ll find a certain gravitas, with well-worn wooden floors and a long, tufted black leather sofa with tables and chairs buttressing one side of the wall. A pillow-strewn window banquette and solitary leather chairs offer additional seating, as does a mallside patio. While the downtown Mudhouse likely sees more of a “who’s who” of C’ville for those remote workers looking to make an impromptu connection, it can also be too crowded for comfort. The local chain’s newest location on 10th Street, just off West Main, is light and airy–ideal for those of us who need a little more space.

Belle Coffee & Wine (407 Monticello Rd.)

Vibe: European-style café meets neighborhood hang space. One of the newest coffee shops on the block, Belle, is just that—a beautiful space. The name, of course, is a play on the neighborhood where it resides, Belmont. Chill out and get some work done amidst Belle’s cool Euro vibes—white and blue tones, blonde wood tables, and a giant map of Belmont on the far wall above a cushy brown leather sofa. Music selections run to adult contempo for the millennial generation with some throwbacks for the rest of us–everything from Bread and Hall & Oates to Haley Reinhart and Lord Huron. Can’t find room inside? Stake out a picnic table on the banana tree-curtained patio or a seat in one of the bistro-style chairs under the yellow awning.

Grit Coffee (2035 Bond St., Ste. #185)

Vibe: Do work, drink coffee, then reward yourself with shopping. While you may think the Downtown Mall location of Grit Coffee would be the best tele-work option out of its multiple local cafes, its stylish outpost at The Shops at Stonefield is even better. The café is outfitted with giant white orb-shaped pendant lights, lots of tables to spread out (but don’t—share that space with your fellow itinerant workers!), a wide, sunny yellow banquette, and stools and bar tables. The buzz is low-key and contemplative—overhead music plays at a gentle decibel. And if the weather is nice, you can grab a seat at one of the purple sidewalk chairs outside. Side note: Grit is ever- expanding—a new café opened recently at the bottom of Pantops and another from the Grit Coffee team is coming to the under-construction Wool Factory.

Snowing in Space (705 W. Main St.)

Vibe: Bold, bright, and colorful West Main Street café filled with murals. Let the artfully disembodied head of Bill Murray (whose film Groundhog Day inspired the coffee shop’s name) spark some work creativity. The Murray mural and frenetic color scheme are the first things that capture your attention when you walk in. Ample seating is available (try to score one of the booths, upholstered in sparkly fuchsia fabric), while the likes of Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and Incubus play on the overhead speakers. The café’s undertone of coolness tempers the loudness of the wall graphics–and the music. Snowing in Space may be best for the kind of work that requires free-flowing idea generation and creative thinking, maybe less so for hammering out that tedious RFP proposal or white paper. Grab a can of nitro cold brew coffee on the way out for the all-nighter or early morning work sesh at home.

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