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Many travellers, myself included, need coffee to function and make good coffee a priority when overseas. Freelancers and digital nomads are often looking for more than just caffeine though. They’re after somewhere they can go to get work done. So with news that Estonia is creating a Digital Nomad Visa to attract digital nomads, I wanted to find some cafes in Tallinn that would suit them.
During my return visit to Tallinn, I spent quite a bit of time in different parts of the city. Naturally, that meant getting coffee in different neighbourhoods where remote workers might frequent. Much like I was surprised by how many cafes in Warsaw were well-suited to digital nomads, Tallinn also has some pretty good options. Because, while there are spaces for co-working in Tallinn, that scene isn’t for everybody. Here are my picks for cafes in Tallinn with good coffee where digital nomads can comfortably get work done.
Coffee in Tallinn
Before we get to the cafes on this list, first a few thoughts on the coffee scene in Tallinn. If you like coffee or kohvi as it is in Estonian, you’re in luck. There are so many cafes scattered throughout the city of Tallinn, that honestly, choosing where to go can be tough. Prices seem to be fairly even around the city, with the cost of coffee usually 2-3€.
Now, while there are some speciality roasters, cafes in Tallinn mostly come in one of three forms. One is the coffee chains that we’ll get into later. The next is the tea-house/patisserie kind of cafe that feels like a living room with big chairs and a cosy setting. Finally, there’s the grander European-style cafe, the places you go for brunch in Tallinn, that are just as much about serving meals as they are coffee.
I personally find the latter two kinds not great for working in. Luckily, there are a few more minimalist coffee shops in Tallinn which feel much better suited to the needs of digital nomads.
Another thing to be mindful is that the cafe scene in Tallinn is clearly ever-changing. Doing my own research for this, I found that many articles were full of establishments that had since closed. Something to keep in mind when relying on this article that’s written in 2020.
First up, we have the trendy, Nordic vibes of Fika Cafe in Telliskivi. This cafe is part of a rejuvenated industrial area covered in street art, with its own relaxed, industrial look going on inside. Its name comes from the Swedish tradition of fika, which involves people socialising over coffee and pastries. Perfectly appropriate, given that the pastries here are as big a selling point as the coffee.
I actually tried Fika while looking for a quick breakfast in Tallinn after just arriving and I wasn’t disappointed. The coffee came in an interesting stone cup and they have a nice selection of typical Nordic pastries. It isn’t huge inside, but there’s enough tables and benches that you should be able to find a spot. While I didn’t spot any charging points while I was there, they do have Wi-Fi, which is a necessity nowadays. The cafe was oddly quiet when I went early-ish in the morning, but I imagine it can get busier during the middle of the day.
One of the most commonly recommended coffee shops in Tallinn is RØST Bakery in the Rotermann Quarter. Most articles on Tallinn coffee spots will recommend this place and I never saw it without a line when walking past. Thankfully, I did catch it one afternoon where I got a seat, joining the other people with their books and laptops out. And yes, RØST deserves the hype.
With its pastries and sandwiches, it really is as much a bakery as a coffee shop, explaining its limited seating. It’s actually similar to Fika in some ways, with its cinnamon and cardamon buns, not to mention its cosy interior. But don’t worry, their coffee also delivers too, so there’s really nothing to complain about. For remote workers, there’s a bar with stools to work at, several outlets and good Wi-Fi too. It really all comes down to whether you can get a seat.
Sometimes you don’t want a place that’s too busy or popular when you’re trying to focus on work. For that kind of environment, I really enjoyed working at Robert’s Coffee in the Viru Keskus shopping mall. Situated across the road from both the Old Town and Rotermann Quarter, this is an extremely central cafe that’s easy to reach. Thanks to its outdoor seating space, you should find that indoors is nice and quiet, with just soft music coming through from the mall.
Coffee here is pretty good and they have a coffee menu that looks like what you’d get a big coffee chain. They also do ice-cream and some food, but I can’t say I tried any of it. Wi-Fi here is good and the big windows allow for plenty of daydreaming when you’re stuck on something. Rather than trying to be flashy or cool, Robert’s Coffee is kind of simple and I think is better for it.
Of the many cups of coffee I had in Tallinn, I’d say the best came from Epic Coffee in the Rotermann Quarter. Found down the other end of the same alley as RØST, it’s unassuming but worth it. Set inside a repurposed brick warehouse, it’s very cosy down their with quite a bohemian vibe to it. It looks like they relocated from somewhere in Old Town judging by old photos.
The big selling point of this cafe for me is the coffee, but it also meets the needs of digital nomads nicely. They have small tables and a work bench for you to work at, as well as Wi-Fi. It’s the kind of place that would feel best suited to a rainy or winters day, rather than the rare sunny weather I experienced. The cafe never seemed overly busy which is also nice if you’re easily distracted. Basically, if coffee is the most important aspect, try Epic Coffee.
Saiakangi Cafe is an outlier on this list for several reasons, but still a worthy inclusion. A few things set it apart from the rest, one being its location down a side alley in Tallinn’s Old Town. But Saiakangi also felt more like a Viennese coffeehouse in some respects and as such more of a cafe/restaurant. During my visit, there were more people eating large meals here than just getting coffee.
And yet, it was quite a pleasant place to sit for a while and work. The coffee is perfectly fine and the cafe has big windows looking out onto a minor pedestrian street just off the main square. It did seem to cater mostly to tourists, so I can imagine it gets rather busy during high season. The cafe treads the line between casual and refined, so if you decide to come here for a coffee or even a glass of wine and use the Wi-Fi, it’s not going to be a problem.
When you get into the business district of the city centre you’ll soon spot lots of chain coffee shops around the place. The one standout I was able to find was a cafe called Kohvipaus. And clearly it’s a favourite of local workers because it went from being pretty quiet to absolutely full come lunch time. At first glance, it actually looked a lot like local franchise cafes, so clearly the food here is what sets it apart from those places.
Don’t take what I’m saying those as a criticism. There’s nothing wrong with its modern and function interior. With tables, lounge chairs and a bar with power outlets, there’s plenty of choice for how you want to work. Oh and yes there’s Wi-Fi too, so you really shouldn’t need anything else.
Tallinn Coffee Chains
Up to this point, I’ve focused on independent cafes and coffee shops in Tallinn. I have nothing against coffee chains personally, but they’re usually fairly similar in terms of quality. In Tallinn the two main chains you’ll find are Reval Cafe and Caffeine. Reval Cafe is a Tallinn based franchise named after the city’s medieval name, whereas Caffeine is found throughout the Baltic. Both are easy generally easy to work in, with decent-to-good coffee and flavoured coffee drinks, not to mention guaranteed Wi-Fi. If you’re not feeling too picky or adventurous, these places are basically a safe bet.
Which of these Tallinn cafes seems like they’d best suit you? What other cafes in Tallinn would you recommend people visit? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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You know me and my obsession with a lovely cafe! I’m certainly drawn to an epic coffee, but much prefer a good pastry so I tend to learn towards the ROST Bakery for that pastry! Glad you got a seat!