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Heine Brothers’ Coffee

Heine Brothers’ Coffee, St. Matthews, Louisville, KY

Image Source: HelloLouisville.com

I grew up in Louisville, but the last time I lived here, Wi-Fi was as foreign a concept as going green. So this is a first-impression traveler’s review of the Heine Brothers’ St. Matthews location. I’m sure the trek to Bardstown Road would’ve yielded better results, but my parents live in the east end, so this one was closer. I’ve had friends who still live here tell me that Heine Brothers is by no means the best laptop locale, but if you lived here in the 90s, when you think “coffee shop”, you think Heine Brothers. So when I had to delay my trip back to North Carolina due to icky weather, that’s where I went to get some work done.

COFFEE: Good, but pricey. Although fair trade, organic, locally brewed coffee always comes at a price, right? A 10-oz cup cost $1.80 and refills were $1.00 each. On tap today: Ronda’s Blend (a house blend created in honor of  a former employee). Points for a flavorful brew, demerits for not having more than one regular blend to choose from (always nice to have options).

FOOD: The focus here is definitely on the coffee, and that’s okay. Their sweets selection looked quite tempting and they had some cold sandwiches in the front cooler from a local gourmet grocery, but I didn’t have a sweet tooth and didn’t want to pay $6 for an okay-looking sandwich, so I paid $2 for an okay-looking bagel instead. It tasted how it looked, but that’s also because it was noon and had most likely been sitting there since 6am when they opened.

INTERNET: I don’t know if it was their connection or if it was because I was working on an iPad, but I found it to be rather slow. Outlets were easily accessible and plentiful in the smaller green room (I didn’t check the front room for places to plug in.)

VIBE: Jazzy background music pumps through the main room, where there’s a “store” along the back wall with organic t-shirts, coffee, tea, and even coffee soap for purchase. There’s plenty of seating in both the main room and a smaller back room for those who prefer a little more peace and quiet. Both rooms have colorful murals on the walls. If it hadn’t been pouring down rain, I imagine the deck off the front to be a stong point on sunnier days.

$13.50, hbconlinestore.com

GREENERY:

They recycle but don’t have very visible signs or bins next to the trash cans. A staff member informed me that they usually just sift through the trash for recyclables. Points for dedication! I was, however, disappointed that I was given a disposable cup for my in-house coffee. I saw others with mugs so perhaps it was just an oversight. They also have a house blend called KFTC Mountain Dream from which they donate $5 from every bag purchased to help end mountain top removal mining in the Appalachian region.

Heine Brothers’ St. Matthews is the “perfect on paper” coffee house. The date you should want to take home to meet your parents, and yet there’s just something missing that you can’t put your finger on. Other than a slow Internet connection (which I like to think was an iPad issue—not an iPad fan, but that’s another post) there was nothing wrong with the place. The coffee was tasty, the staff was friendly, they keep it local, they care about the planet. Maybe I’m spoiled by the wonderful cafes in Asheville. Maybe I went to the wrong Heine Brothers. Maybe I was just in a pissy mood because I was stuck using my husband’s iPad instead of my MacBook.

Any Louisvillians out there in love with Heine Brothers? Give us the skinny!

Heine Brothers’ Coffee, 119 Chenoweth Lane, Louisville, KY 40207

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Coworking or Cafe Working?

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Asheville is getting a new coworking space—the only one in town as far as I know, since the fall of Locomotivity, and then, The Tink Tank. These cafe alternatives aren’t news to larger cities. There’s Citizen Space in San Francisco, and in Brooklyn they’ve taken it one niche further with the eco-friendly co-working space, Green Desk. But for smaller towns, coworking spaces have yet to pop up, or in Asheville’s case have opened and already closed their doors. I don’t see the allure of paying money to confine myself to a cubicle, but I do appreciate other aspects of coworking: professional meeting rooms, a dependable wireless connection, and most intriguing—the opportunity to connect and collaborate with other creative minds. When you’re a one-woman department, it’s nice to have someone as a sounding board who doesn’t have ulterior motives or isn’t your mother (or both).

 

Sustainable coworking space at Green Desk in Brooklyn.

 

I like that Mojo Coworking offers daily and hourly rates in addition to full memberships. And yes, there’s coffee. I think I’m a Cafe Worker at heart, but look forward to checking out this whole coworking thing when Mojo opens. Whether it’s right for me or not, it’s definitely a much needed service in Asheville, so I hope Mojo succeeds. Now if we can only get a good Jewish deli:)

Cafe working or coworking? Which do you prefer and why?

Eco-friendly laptop bags we love.

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Choosing a laptop bag for your portable office is a personal choice that runs the spectrum between fashion and function. Here at CafeWorking, we want the whole mindfully designed package, which is why all of our picks also have that “something green”.

We heart these planet-friendly laptop bags:

1. Keen Cornell II Courier Bag

Made with repurposed materials, no two are alike. It has a sleeve for a 17″ laptop, plus plenty of zippers and pockets for your pens, phone and flash drive. $90, keenfootwear.com

2. Matt & Nat Vegan Ritual Laptop Bag

For the stylish CafeWorking woman, this faux leather bag is made for Apple addicts. In addition to the padded pocket for your 13″ MacBook, you’ll find compartments designed to fit your iPhone, iPod and iPod shuffle. Lined with 100% recycled faux suede. $180, zappos.com

3. Patagonia Critical Mass Messenger Bag

From your house to the cafe, to the climbing wall. A reflective strip keeps you safe on your commute while a waterproof zipper, padded removable laptop sleeve (for 17″ notebooks or smaller) and overlapping cover flap protect your gadgets and gear. We love the fleece-lined electronics pocket on the shoulder strap. Made from recycled fabric. $119, patagonia.com

What laptop bag are you coveting?


Twisted Crepe

Twisted Crepe, Asheville, NC

This restaurant might not stand out as an obvious cafe working locale, but even though they don’t advertise it, they have free Wi-Fi. If I’m downtown and know I want to eat something light and healthy while I work, I go to Twisted Crepe.

credit: Dustin Pulliam

FOOD: I’m starting off with the highlights and moving backward. I strictly come here for the food. I dream about their crepes. They are a crisp, refreshing handheld alternative to bagels and biscuits. I always get The Shorty. Until recently, it was also the best breakfast deal in town: 3 veggies, egg, cheese and choice of sauce for $2.99! You cannot get a decent breakfast in downtown Asheville for less than five dollars (someone please prove me wrong). I even saw a breakfast sandwich on one menu for $7.95…and slowly, quietly backed my way out the door. Unfortunately, this was a gateway price (now $4.99), but it worked. I’m hooked. My budget won’t allow me to visit as often as I did, but Twisted Crepe has quickly made it to the top of my “Treat Yourself” list.

INTERNET: Again, it’s free and I’ve never had connection issues. It’s been awhile since I first logged on there, but either there’s no password or if there is, they’ll give it to you at the counter. You may ask yourself “Isn’t the Internet free everywhere now?” Alas, it is not. I stayed in a really nice hotel in Atlanta (cough) InterContinental Buckhead (cough) for a wedding and had to bring some work along with me. $20 per day to use their Internet, I kid you not. At least it gave me an excuse to not work!

VIBE: This place is too clean and well-lit to have a “vibe”. I’m not saying the atmosphere is bad… it’s just not brimming with personality—kind of like the Gwyneth Paltrow of crepe places. So it’s not the place I go to hunker down and hide out, but they do have a few booths and don’t seem to mind when I take up one just for me. And the owner and staff are all very friendly (and very patient with indecisive orderers like myself).

COFFEE: Now we come to the low point. The coffee is not that great. They serve it from thermoses on a station at the front where you can help yourself. The first time I was there, I thought it might’ve just been a mishap—bad brews happen to good people. But I’ve been there several times and it’s consistently “eh”. Again, I come for the food. I’m willing to swallow a mediocre cup of coffee in exchange for a top notch breakfast.

Twisted Crepe, 62 Haywood St., Asheville, NC, 28801

Photos were taken by owner Dustin Pulliam and “borrowed” from Urbanspoon.

Izzy’s Coffee Den

Izzy’s Coffee Den in Asheville, NC

“Den” is the perfect word to describe this Lexington Avenue coffee spot. It’s dark, cozy, and inviting if you’re not intimidated by the cool, hipster clientele (which I always was… until now).

COFFEE: They brew Counter Culture, one of my favorite brands. And if you drink your coffee there, you get it in a large mug for only $1.25, and 50 cent refills (It’s $1.50 for a 12-oz cup if you grab it to-go). I’ve had their French Roast, which is amazing. But today, I felt adventurous and tried the Ethiopian blend. Not bad, but I’m sticking to what they describe on their menu as “the dark stuff”.

VIBE: Punk music blares from the speakers… everything from Weezer and Lou Reed to other bands that I’m not hip enough to know (as evidenced by my use of the word “hip”). I actually like listening to punk music while I work. I can somehow tune it out and at the same time absorb its energy to help me focus. The local artwork adorning the walls is chaotic with a hint of psychotic. I’m personally drawn to this piece that I can only describe as some sort of deranged rabbit on a bicycle, lovingly titled “Snuggles”:

And I’m always a fan of places that use creative ways to distinguish between the men’s and women’s restrooms:

They advertise live music, but I’m guessing that’s something that goes on later in the evening and I’m  a morning person when it comes to cafe working. You have to appreciate local businesses that support local art and music!

FOOD: The food section on their menu could just as easily be called BAGELS. They keep it simple, selling Brueggers bagels, priced according to shmear: butter, cream cheese or hummus. I prefer my bagels made in-house, but this isn’t a bakery. I’m here for the coffee and computer time and Izzy’s accomplishes those two things quite well.

BEER & WINE: If you prefer more than a caffeine buzz while you work (and really, who doesn’t?) they have a small albeit decent selection of beers, and I believe I saw one wine option.

INTERNET: They post their password on the counter. It’s fast, free and I didn’t have any connection problems.

A couple of years ago, they opened a second location in West Asheville, which I’ve yet to check out, but it’s on my list.

Izzy’s Coffee Den, 74 N Lexington Ave, Asheville NC 28801

CafeWorking Moms and Dads

In addition to working from home part-time, I’m a full-time mother to a precious albeit very busy 16-month-old boy. Okay, I hate acronyms, but I’ll say it. I’m a WAHM. And the older my son gets, the more impossible it becomes to get any work done in his waking hours. SO

In addition to regular reviews, I plan to include a special section on the blog for other work-at-home moms (and dads!) with suggestions for places to work outside the house that offer kid-friendly amenities: play areas, changing stations in bathrooms, etc.

I’ve already found a couple of amazing cafes that were made specifically with moms in mind. If you live in San Diego or Chicago, check these out and let us know what you think!

Java Mama, San Diego, CA

Family Grounds Cafe, Chicago, IL

Help other moms and dads save a shred of sanity. Share your favorite kid-friendly spots with us! cafeworkingblog@gmail.com.

Kneaded Pleasures Café & Bakery

Contributed by Kelly Love Johnson, a freelance writer, editor and media consultant in Austin, TX.

Kneaded Pleasures Café & Bakery in Austin, TX.

Even though this isn’t my absolute favorite place for café working, I spend more time here than the other places in Austin because it’s about five minutes (walking distance) away from my house.  Kneaded Pleasures is in a strip mall sandwiched between a CVS and a post office.

When I start to get a little stir-crazy working from home, this is a great place to go and have breakfast (amazing breakfast tacos and they also have good bagels) and get some work done. It opens at 7am and is large, so there’s always an open table. They have a lot of regulars, mostly neighborhood folks, and people are friendly, but polite if it’s clear you’re working face-in-laptop.

The staff is also friendly, even when I’ve complained about the one negative thing…

1.     Rules! They have a strict rule about no computer use at their tables Monday-Friday, 11am-2pm. They turn off their wi-fi and will inform you of their policy if you still have your computer out during these hours, even if they’re not busy. It’s irritating, because sometimes I work there from 8am for breakfast and hate having to stop at 11am if I’m on a roll.

2.     The food. I eat healthy and stick to egg-white omelets or wheat bagels, every now and then indulging in an egg and cheese breakfast taco. I also love their bagel & lox (with red onion, cream cheese, and capers). However, they bake on site and the whole place smells like a bakery—and you have to stand two feet away from a case full of goodies to order. Hard to resist!

3.     Art. They have a huge mural of Town Lake in Austin on one wall, which is nice to look at when I’m trying to come up with the right words.

4.     Caffeine. The coffee is good about 80% of the time, so it’s a little hit or miss. Sometimes it tastes like it was left over from yesterday. If you ask the person taking your order if the coffee is fresh, they always say “yes,” but I’ve brought my cup back more than once and begged to differ.

5.     The staff. Since they’re rarely crowded, there’s always a table with an outlet nearby, the staff is always apologetic about their “no computer use from 11-2” policy, and they never seem bothered that I camp out with my laptop at a table that is supposed to seat four.

There’s always a strong wi-fi connection (except when they turn it off for their “lunch rush”) and I’ve never had connection problems. I also like that, unlike chains like Starbucks, I’m usually one of 2 or 3 people sitting with my laptop (instead of every single table occupied by a café-working writer). Which makes me feel less like a cliché (“Hello, I am clearly writing/a writer and wish that you would watch me do so”).

Definitely recommend for food and service; just not from 11-2 M-F!

Kneaded Pleasures, 3573 Far West Blvd., Austin, TX  78731