Square Case Study

The Workers' Cafe, Dalston

This modern coffee shop is about far more than a quick pick-me-up or even those longer lounges with a cappuccino and a cake – in the era of the internet nomad, the coffee shop is now the unofficial office of many of London’s freelancers. The Workers’ Café, located in Dalston, one of the capital’s most vibrant areas, is a welcoming haven for all those workers without a workplace. Co-owned by Ryan, Dave, Mike and Andrian, the café hasn’t been designed as just another coffee place you can work in, but a workplace where you can also get coffee.

workers' cafe, dalston

The premise is simple: rather than be forced to spend upwards of £3 for a coffee per hour in a regular coffee shop, visitors pay a tax-deductible membership fee to cover a month, week, day or just a few hours and in return they get a place to work that comes with wifi, free-flowing coffee and no judgemental looks from baristas wondering how long they plan on sitting there. The Worker’s Café is where freelancers are welcomed and where their right to a table, plug for their laptop chargers and access to Wi-Fi doesn’t require an hourly order of an over-priced coffee (but if they do want to indulge in a cake at a pocket-friendly 20% discount, all they have to do is tap their card on the Square reader.

The whole concept started with Andrian’s original café in Hampstead, where he struck up a friendship with daily visitor Ryan, who used the café as a base for his work. Deciding that the digital nomads of the city needed an office to call their 9-5 home, the pair took to the internet and successfully crowdfunded the first iteration of the Worker’s Café as a Hackney pop-up. Three weeks later, brothers Mike and Dave came into the picture, offering to help run the business, and by the time the pop-up closed, the four entrepreneurs were ready to open permanently in Dalston.

The café is now up and running with plenty of regular visitors and even a calendar of hosted pop-ups, all thanks to the vision of four small business owners who wanted to make sure that London’s freelancers could work hard without their finances having to work harder.

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