Given that it started out as a gold mining town, it should hardly be surprising that Johannesburg has always had a pioneering spirit. Most of South Africa’s biggest companies were started, and are headquartered, there too. Those companies in turn support an ecosystem of small businesses, entrepreneurs, and, of course, freelancers.
Thing is, your average freelancer is a lot less likely to have office space than an entrepreneur or small business owner. Working from home is the default option, but that can start to wear on your sanity. So where do the freelancers of Johannesburg turn when they need to be around people, but also don’t want to be disturbed?
To get an idea, we asked a wide pool of Joburg natives for their input. Here are some of their top suggestions:
IT Corner (Melville)
Some coffee shops only begrudgingly accept the presence of freelancers and remote workers, feeling that they take up space that could be used by more profitable customers. IT Corner is not one of those coffee shops.
It bills itself as “the perfect base for creative, innovative, vibrant, young businesses and professionals like freelancers, creatives, consultants and mobile workers to plug in, work, network and have a unique cup of coffee at the same time”.
As well as a welcoming atmosphere and free WiFi, it offers tech support, meeting rooms, web design and development, and fax and printing facilities.
Bean There (Milpark)
Situated in the oh-so-cool 44 Stanley complex, Bean There offers FairTrade, single origin African coffee. It is, in other words, one of those places you go to if you care as much about the coffee as having somewhere to work.
As well as the comfortable seating and warm décor that you’d hope for in this kind of coffee shop, Bean There offers workshops where you can learn everything about African coffee, from bean to cup.
Doppio Zero (Various)
When it comes to finding places to work, you don’t always want somewhere unique and character-filled.
Sometimes you just want to know that you can get a consistently good experience, no matter where you are in the city.
With several locations across Johannesburg, that’s exactly what Doppio Zero offers (although the Sunninghill and Greenside locations come highly recommended).
Patrons of the chain can expect a menu that runs from breakfast to dinner and includes Mediterranean-style café food and thin-crust pizzas.
Bread and Roses (Melville)
According to our sources, Bread and Roses offers the two thing most crucial to any decent freelancing spot: free WiFi and good coffee.
But this Melville hangout is so much more than that, playing host to quirky décor, friendly wait-staff, and a fireplace (a lifesaver on freezing winter mornings).
It also stays open until 6PM, meaning you can sit in comfort while the work-day traffic dissipates a little.
Another one for the coffee snobs, Naked sells Small-batch, hand roasted coffee beans and blends produced using artisan methods.
And while you sit with that very special coffee, you’ll be able to plough through your emails, or that super-important document thanks to the free WiFi.
Service Station (Melville)
You know a café is onto something when it’s still going 18 years after opening. Founded in 1999, Service Station combines a food store with a restaurant, meaning you don’t even have to go anywhere else to pick up dinner after a hard day’s work.
With clean and visually appealing décor, it really isn’t a bad place to park your laptop. Oh, and if you want something a little quieter, you can sit at the Chef’s Table, hidden at the back of the space.
Wolves isn’t your average coffee spot. While you’ll find plenty of people working or having meetings there during the day, it turns into a live music and comedy venue at night and on weekends.
That’s not really relevant to this article. The café’s delicious cake, on the other hand, is and will make it that much easier for you to get through that inevitable mid-afternoon slump.
Motherland helped pioneer the coffee renaissance South Africa’s experienced in the past few years, serving quality African Origin brews.
According to our sources, all three of its Johannesburg locations are good for sitting down and getting some work done (although Rosebank and Dunkeld topped the recommendations list).
The Whippet (Linden)
The Whippet is a coffee shop on a mission. It wants to “re-introduce South Africans to the story of their neighbourhoods through coffee, awesome food, art, design and architecture”.
For a glimpse at how it’s doing that, just take a quick scroll through its website. The food pics alone will have you reaching for your wallet.
The Whippet is also Engage Me’s kind of coffee shop, giving its staff funeral, disability, and life cover.
Cnr Cafe (Craighall)
Be warned, this little bistro is incredibly popular. That means you’ll have to get there at the right times if you want a table where you can work in peace.
Once you do though, you can indulge in Cnr Café’s house blend and treat yourself to one of its delicious home-made desserts.
Do you have a favourite Joburg freelance hangout? Let us know about it in the comments section below.
Bambanini is a great spot for working parents. You can sit down at a table and shoot off a few emails while the kids are kept busy in one of several play areas.
Among the entertainment options available for kids are a four storey covered jungle gym, dress-up area and sand art, a media room complete with Playstation, Wii, Xbox and a continuous reel of kids’ movies being screened.
Adults meanwhile can enjoy stylish decor and array of food options.