To introduce our newest guest writer and new resident to Newcastle, we asked Alexandra to give us her top spots to go and get some work done and enjoy some vibe at the same time.
One Penny Black
196 Hunter Street, Newcastle, 2300
Monday to Sunday 7.00am til 4.30pm
Located on the tree-lined east end of Hunter Street, One Penny Black has all of the features a freelancer could want. For one, you have to order at the till (hello no more waiters interrupting mid...) and then there's my personal favourite feature, the help-yourself-water, which is kept in the fridge! Although readily-available bottles of water seem to be a mainstay of Newcastle's eateries, I am still floored by this. Back at home in London, more often than not you have to request tap water and you're lucky if it actually arrives at your table before you're halfway home. Constantly requesting water makes it very difficult to keep your writer's bubble intact so this is a very important factor for me as a freelancer. I digress.
One Penny Black's Newy-hip bare-brick wall, retro light fittings and marble tables make for a great writing atmosphere, however it's all about the store front's elevated bar-seating. As I write, it is 40 degrees, the windows are open in front of me and I can watch melting people go by. What is more inspiring (*distracting*) for a writer than people watching, eh? OPB also has great free Wi-Fi, outdoor seating and delish food. They serve both breakfast and lunch all day so whether you want eggs Benedict at 3.30pm or a Persian Spiced Lamb Burger at 7am, they've got you covered. Beware, though, there is only one not-so-accessible power socket so make sure your laptop/phone/tablet has enough juice.
162 Darby Street, Cooks Hill, 2300
Monday to Sunday 6.00am til 3.00pm
Located halfway down Darby Street, towards the end of the main shopping stretch if coming from the Newy East side, Core Espresso sits rather inconspicuously between Darby's Corner Shop and Darby Street Quality Meats. The ubiquitous bicycle-over-the-door — a go-to decor piece of any edgy cafe — is perhaps what will catch your eye first and encourage you to go in. And you'll be glad you did. Whether it's the cold drip coffee, the V60 pour over on single origin, or the core bullet shot, you will find plenty of trendy coffee offerings to keep you working away 'til closing time. You'll also find loads of healthy food options to absorb all of the caffeine, with my favourite being the pretentious but wonderfully-named Cornucopia Biodynamic Farm Eggs (otherwise known to us mere mortals as 'poached eggs').
On the work front, the two best features of Core are, hands down, the seating at the front and back. To your left when you enter the cafe, there is a table for two by the huge glass window which is excellent for people watching and which will be open on warm days. Out the back, past the tills and practically hidden if you don't know to look, there is a small enclosed courtyard with only a handful of tables, lovingly surrounded by succulents, yuccas, cushions and rustic Moorish fencing. The Wi-Fi is generally good, however it was down at time of writing, and it is worth noting that there is only one power socket, by the table next to the counter.
227 Hunter Street, Newcastle, 2300
Monday to Sunday 7.30am til 3.00pm
On first impression, Momo is a strange building. Housed in an old branch of ANZ Bank, the double-height ceiling remains from such a time, but is not really utilised in terms of space. When I came here for the first time, I remember thinking that they should surely build a mezzanine to make space for more customers, but now I realise the space is precisely what makes Momo so appealing. White walls, huge windows, the occasional smattering of artwork and foliage, all count towards Momo being a great destination for freelancers; space means space to think, space to sit apart from the rest. Like OPB, Momo also requires you to order at the tills and provides the thirsty punter with chilled tap water, so I'm all smiles there too.
In terms of the menu, Momo is a mainly vegan cafe, but that should not put meat-eaters (like me) off. You can enjoy large wooden bowls of the eponymous momos (Tibetan dumplings), along with other exotic offerings such as pakora, bhujia and kimchi pancakes, so there are plenty of options to tickle the taste buds of even the most avid carnivores.
There is also internet, which works a dream on my phone but which my laptop has difficulty tracking down, something which is worth noting if you need Wi-Fi in order to work. If you find the internet more of a distraction than a productive tool, Momo is the place for you! (This could also be a personal issue of my old and decrepit laptop...).
Frankies by Fibonacci Coffee
133 Darby St, Cooks Hill, 2300
Monday to Sunday 7.00am til 3.00pm and 6.00pm til 10.00pm
A new find for me, Frankies by Fibonacci Coffee had me impressed from my first visit. Located on Darby Street, next door to the more prominent and ever-popular Three Monkeys, Frankies can be easily overlooked — as it was, by me, until recently. It was after seeing a photo of the interior online that I decided to give it a try, as there is nothing particularly alluring from the outside to draw you in (no bicycle over the door, for example). How sorry I am that I didn't pop in sooner — Frankies is freelancer heaven! For one, the Wi-Fi name and password are written on a board behind the counter, so you don't even need to speak to anyone in order to elicit this information (always a plus for me). Secondly, and this is what makes Frankies so different, there are power sockets, plural — not only ordinary ones but USB plugs too.
Now, I understand the whole 'No we don't have Wi-Fi, talk to people!' mantra, adopted by some cafes (*cough* Bolton Street Pantry *cough*) but sometimes it's not a desire to be antisocial that drives us to ask for 'The Password', but indeed the desire to earn a living. In my humble opinion, all cafes should have power sockets, especially if they offer Wi-Fi; we all know that there is nothing more annoying than your laptop dying mid...
Joking, I'm still here. Do you know why? Because I am in Frankies, plugged in — and anyway, I've already made that joke.
137 Darby Street, Cooks Hill, 2300
Monday to Sunday 7.00am til midnight
When I first arrived in Newcastle I was told on numerous occasions that I must visit Goldbergs', and it has become increasingly clear why. Before I even talk about the cafe itself, let me bring your attention to its opening hours: 7am to midnight. There's nothing so special about opening at 7am, especially in Newcastle where people seem to be up and about much earlier than this (something unheard of in London unless you're commuting to work or going on holiday). No, the notable time here is the late-for-Newy hour of midnight. In a city where most cafes close between 3pm-4pm, Goldbergs' is the answer to the fervent cry of 'But where can I get a coffee on my way back from work/on my way to a night shift!?' This is another thing I have found incredibly bizarre about my move across the world — some restaurants close at 8pm, cafes at 2pm and bars at 10pm; aren't those the exact hours when people are wanting to frequent those respective establishments? Again, I digress.
Goldbergs' is certainly a Newcastle institution, as it claims to be. Having been around for generations, this cafe feels loved — the pictures on the walls, the well-used chairs and worn down floor, all add to the welcoming, homey feel. As a result, this place isn't 'trendy' like most other cafes in Newy and, honestly, I may have never ventured in if it hadn't have been for the recommendations. Looking in from the street it looks dark and maybe even a little stuffy but give it a chance and you won't be disappointed as the atmosphere it what helps to get the creative juices flowing. If you want a bit more of a summery vibe, head out the back to be surrounded by palms and twittering birds in the sheltered courtyard. Good food, check. Good coffee, check. Good vibes, check. Long live Goldbergs' and happy writing!