What are the best coffee shops in Asheville to work out of? In this post, we dig deeper to uncover our favorite cafe-offices.
Asheville likes to say, “Bring a job with you.” And, well, most jobs that you can bring with you entail sitting behind a computer for the better part of the day. We’ve learned this first-hand as we currently work from home to build this podcast and website, as well as our marketing business.
When you work from home, you have to find creative ways to get yourself out of the house every now and again. Otherwise, before you know it, the day has gone before you realize you’re still wearing your pajamas from the night before. Not a good sign. Sometimes getting out of the house is as simple as taking a walk or running an errand to clear your head. But other times, you need something more — a place where you feel productive, see other human beings, and can enjoy a steady drip of caffeine.
And that, dear readers, brings us to today’s topic: our favorite cafes and coffee shops to work out of in Asheville.
We’ll preface this post by saying we didn’t take this topic lightly. In fact, it was quite difficult for us to decide which were our favorites. So, rather than make an arbitrary ranking based on our gut feeling, we decided to create a unique scorecard system to help us identify what we liked about each coffee shop.
Our Scorecard System
So how did we decide which Asheville coffee shops and cafes were the best for getting work done?
We began by making a list of our favorite coffee shops to work out of. (Note: this is not an extensive list of all of the cafes in town, it’s just the ones we’ve gone to enough to honestly recommend.)
After we got our list of cafes, we created a list of qualities that we think are very important when trying to get work done: WiFi, outlets, seating, coffee, food, and vibes. Then, we scored each cafe on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the worst and 5 being the best) for each of these qualities.
Before we dive in, let’s take a closer look at each of those factors:
Does it have good high-speed connection? Is the internet secure? Is the password readily available and easy to use? Is there a time limit?
Are there ample outlets for recharging your computer and phone? Are they easily accessible or do you need to crawl under your neighbor’s chair?
Is there ample seating and table space? Are the seats comfortable?
Just how good is the coffee? Does it taste good? Does it come out fast? Is there a good selection of coffee and tea and free water to keep you hydrated?
What’s going on with the nibbles? Is there a full-blown food selection or just pastries? How does the food taste?
How about the atmosphere? What’s it like? Is there good music? Is there airflow? Is it definingly loud, awkwardly quiet? Do we feel distracted in the space or can we get in the zone?
We each got our own scorecard. Our empty Cafe Workability Scorecard looked something like this (S is for Sarah and T is for Tony).
After filling it out, we tallied up the points for each cafe. (Note: since there were six factors and we were ranking on a scale of 1 to 5, a total score of 30 would be perfect.) Then, we combined scores and took the averages.
It was fun to see what we each marked down and to score each cafe in a way that was comprehensive!
Now, for the full rundown
If you just want the scores, you can skip ahead. Otherwise, for the full details and reasoning behind our judgment, read on!
Workability Score: 23.5
What we love most: The food! The Rhu is the baby of John Fleer’s Rhubarb, so it goes without saying that their food is simply delicious. The selection is just what you’d want out of a true cafe: breakfast sandwiches, amazing pastries, salads, grain bowls and more. And we think overall, it’s priced right for a cafe.
Why it’s not a perfect 30: It closes at around 4 pm, so if you’re planning a late afternoon work block it’s not ideal. Also, the coffee is good, but Sarah docked them a few points because their Cortado is always slightly disappointing. (As Sarah says, “It’s layered so you end up sipping all the frothy milk on top, then the espresso on the bottom rather than enjoying it all melded together.”)
Our tips for visiting: Sit upstairs where there’s plenty of booth seating and natural light. Order something savory AND sweet because you really can’t go here and not get a pastry (or two). Our favorite combo: breakfast biscuit (we suggest sausage, egg, and cheese) and a grown-up fig newton.
Summit Coffee Co.
Workability Score: 23.25
What we love most: The long work tables and their smooth, cold nitro latte. This is 100% the kind of place that cares about its coffee so you can expect it to be gosh darn near perfect. After all, they are a coffee roaster. We also love that so many other people come here to work. It helps us get in the zone and feel productive.
Why it’s not a perfect 30: They don’t have much by the way of food — just a few cookies and protein balls. Fortunately, it is right next to 12 Bones so if you’re there around lunchtime you could pop-over for midday barbecue break (just go early cause when they sell out, they close).
Our tips for visiting: Checkout their workspace upstairs and be sure to ask about their daily espresso offerings which change often!
Workability Score: 23
What we love most: Maybe it’s because this place is only a stone’s throw away from where we live (a key workability factor if you’re too lazy to drive or hate wasting time getting places), but we love love love The Waterbird.
We both gave this place 5 perfect stars for its vibes. We love their Cubano coffee and the fact that you can literally stay here all day because they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and they have a full cocktail bar). The first thing we said when we walked into The Waterbird was “Dang…this place is gorgeous.” And it really, truly is. Its Modern-Mid-Century-flair-meets-tropical-haven look has us ooohing and aahing every time.
Why it’s not a perfect 30: Their coffee selection is slightly limited. They won’t have your iced nitro latte but they do have espresso, cappuccino, cold brew coffee, and Cubanos. Tony loves their classic Cubano. Also, their WiFi password has changed a couple of times (which isn’t a bad thing necessarily) and it’s not readily visible or easy to remember, so you have to flag a server down (which we suppose is secure but it’s also a bit of a hassle).
Our tips for visiting: We recommend getting one of their Cubano coffees on your first time in. Their classic Cubano comes with a salt rim and lemon twist, while there Ginger Cardamom Cubano is like a chai latte met and fell in love with espresso. Or —what the heck — just treat yourself to a cocktail. They’re worth it.
Liberty House Coffee & Cafe
Workability Score: 22
What we love most: The neighborhood feel (it’s nestled in a residential area just off of Chestnut Street) and their outdoor garden. It’s a perfect place for a casual business meeting.
Why it’s not a perfect 30: The food we’ve had so far has just been okay and, despite its size, it can get crowded. It also closes around 4 pm on weekdays and 2 pm on weekends. So again, it’s not a great place for an afternoon work block.
Our tips for visiting: Go early and snag a good seat! They open at 7 am during the week. And while we haven’t had them yet, we’ve been told to order the pancakes.
Trade & Lore
Workability Score: 21.5
What we love most: Its twinkly star lights and whimsical atmosphere. Their staff is always SO nice, too!
Why it’s not a perfect 30: While they have a good amount of pastries, it’s not a great spot for savory food. There is ample seating, but it’s not the comfiest.
Tip for visiting: Go on a Monday and stay for a glass of wine or beer after work. They serve alcohol and they’re open until 10 pm Fridays through Mondays, and until 7 pm Tuesdays through Thursdays.
High Five Coffee
Workability Score: 21.25
What we love most: The quality of the coffee and their convenient locations (they have one cafe on Rankin Street in downtown Asheville and another behind the Whole Foods on Broadway). Also, we geek out every time they send a coffee order down their zip line system to the barista.
Why it’s not a perfect 30: The food is okay and limited to small bites like pastries, sweets, and bagels. There’s a limit of two hours on the free WiFi connection (after that you have to pay). And in their downtown location, it can take up to 15 minutes to get your coffee.
Our tips for visiting: To avoid waiting, order something that’s easy to make like their cold brew or regular drip coffee.
BattleCat Coffee Bar
Workability Score: 20
What we love most: Its unashamed quirkiness. Also, you can get a well-priced breakfast and lunch from the Tiger Bay Cafe which is connected in the back.
Why it’s not a perfect 30: It’s a pretty small spot that at times feels cramped. The seating isn’t the comfiest and it sometimes feels really loud with all the people walking in and out. The quality of the food is exactly what you’d expect from any ole average coffee shop.
Tip for visiting: Get the iced Thai coffee!
Our final scorecard looking something like this:
While we love all of these cafes, it was really fun to see how we scored each of them! Our biggest takeaway was that we love working at different coffee shops for different reasons. Summit, High Five, and Trade & Lore are great if you’re looking for a good solid caffeine fix and a place to work for a couple of hours, while The Rhu, The Waterbird, and Liberty House are better suited if you plan on having breakfast or lunch and longer work blocks. And BattleCat? It’s the only place that we know of that sells Thai coffee and t-shirts with fighter cats on them.
And you? What are your favorite coffee shops in Asheville to work out of?
View, Save, and Share the Making It In Asheville Map
We also created a custom Google map to keep track of all of our favorite restaurants, bars, cafes, hikes, and activities in Asheville. Some of the places on this map come highly recommended by our podcast guests, while others are our personal favorites. Check it out below!