Melbourne is home to a large student population, as there are nine universities with multiple campuses located across the city. There are also many freelancers and entrepreneurs calling the culture capital home. Fortunately, Melbourne is also Australia’s coffee capital, so there are plenty of cafes set up for people who want to study and work away from home. Here are Melbourne’s best cafes, equipped with free Wi-Fi, power outlets, and good food.
Named after the State Library’s first Chief Librarian, Mr Tulk is a contemporary dining hall located at the State Library of Victoria. There’s a large communal table at the cafe’s centre, which is perfect for studying or working on your laptop, as well as a domed reading room. It also has an outside area, with wooden benches and umbrellas. Mr Tulk has a breakfast, lunch, and sweets menu, as well as a popular happy hour from 4–6pm every Friday afternoon.
Opening in 2013, Two Lost Boys is located down a no-through-road overlooking Windsor Station. Their all day menu has an extensive list of breakfast dishes, including pumpkin benedict and the all-important avo smash. They also have a very creative toasties menu, and a cabinet filled with fresh sandwiches and wraps. Two Lost Boys describe their bright interior as ‘sophisticated grunge’. As a licensed cafe, it’s the perfect place to work and wind down in the afternoon.
Located in North Melbourne, Auction Rooms is part of the St Ali family, a pioneer in Melbourne’s speciality coffee industry. They serve St Ali coffee, and their all-day menu includes brunch dishes with Asian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern flavours. Auction Rooms is also known for its industrial interior – from concrete floors to distressed brick walls. There’s plenty of seating, power outlets, and Wi-Fi for workers and students.
Located on Lygon Street – on the cusp of Carlton North and Princes Hill – Naughty Boy Cafe is famous for its freakshakes (and free Wi-Fi). If a freakshake sugar high doesn’t take your fancy, Naughty Boy Cafe also serves Allpress coffee, smoothies, and has an extensive all-day food menu. Krispy chicken bao bun, or pulled lamb grain salad anyone?
Seven Seeds is a popular spot for Melbourne coffee lovers, but it is also a great cafe for freelancers. Inside the wood-panelled converted warehouse, there’s plenty of seating, including a large communal table. Their Carlton location is also close to Melbourne University, so it is often buzzing with students studying, or killing time between classes. Their menu includes standout dishes such as pork neck roti, espresso-infused French toast, and a chicken Cubano.
A Minor Place is where location-independent Brunswick locals and students hang out, thanks to its plethora of powerpoints and Wi-Fi. But this isn’t the only reason people are drawn to the converted cottage. A Minor Place’s all-day menu includes bagels, bubble ‘n’ squeak, and a Brazilian breakfast. Relax at a communal table with your laptop, and let the relaxing playlist of jazz and indie tunes inspire you for an afternoon.
All you need to know about The Queensberry Pour House is that it’s modelled after an American diner, which means endless coffee refills. You’ll instantly feel at home in the cosy cafe, which also has Wi-Fi and a hand-written menu filled with dishes including coffee-soaked pie and an American-inspired meatball sub. The cabinet is always stocked with cakes, pastries, vegan delights, and sandwiches, too.
TimeOut calls Penny Farthing Espresso a freelancer favourite, because there are ‘two power outlets on communal tables, free Wi-Fi, and an eclectic mix of creative customers’. Located in Northcote, the coffee at Penny Farthing Espresso is supplied by renowned local roasters, Industry Beans. Some of the delectable dishes waiting for you at Penny Farthing Espresso include sweet potato rosti, a halloumi burger, and kasundi, bacon and fennel baked eggs.
Small Block prides itself on being a neighbourhood cafe, so you will instantly feel welcome at this Lygon Street cafe in Brunswick East. Although small is in the title, the cafe has two good-sized rooms and a courtyard, so there’s plenty of seating for students and freelancers. The well-priced all-day menu includes ricotta pancakes, a lamb burger, and a big breakfast – the perfect fuel for a day of working away from home.
Located in Carlton near several Melbourne University buildings, Stovetop is another excellent choice. There’s plenty of seating in the modern space, which has white and pale timber accents, but the most important ingredient is the free Wi-Fi. Named after the stovetop burners the cafe use, Stovetop also serves alcohol and has a signature cocktails list. Food-wise, the large menu has offerings such as New Zealand king salmon, chocolate and espresso waffles, and kimchi pancake.