Looking for good coffee and a place to write in Soho and near Penn Station
Second the suggestion of Saturday's. It's right by your hotel. To be clear though, you shouldn't be given the impression it's a traditional cafe; it's a surfing boutique with coffee bar set up, and a back garden.
Ground Support and Third Rail are what you're looking for. Neither are very comfortable when crowded with students and freelancers.
Fair Folks Cafe has a communal table that seems to draw people working remotely. There's some kind of membership situation here, but I'm not sure that's required.
The Soho/Tribeca location of La Colombe is nice, and you can sit a while. Kaffe 1668 is in Tribeca, and might be farther than you want to go, otherwise it's a good one.
If you can relax the "good coffee" criteria a little, the Think Coffee locations cater towards people like yourself.
Housing Works is also close to your hotel, and while they have some okay coffee themselves, you can also bring in a cup from somewhere else nearby, like Gasoline Alley. I would do this before going to Alphabet City, or somewhere else a few neighborhoods away.
Near Penn, there's also Birch Coffee, which has a library nook level, and caters to a lot of students, as an alternative to the Ace lobby.
I always liked V Bar on Sullivan Street. It has a coffee shop vibe during the day, and is more of a wine bar at night. It's technically in the Village, but very close to SoHo.
I also like 'sNice on the SoHo side of Sullivan Street.
Lastly, when I was in grad school, I sometimes liked to go to bars during the day to write. On a weekday, it's likely quieter than a coffee shop. Not exactly what you asked for, but it's sometimes nice to have a glass of wine while writing, too.
There isn't much good coffee at all near Penn Station, much less combining it with a good place to write. By the end of October, the new branch of Cafe Grumpy on W 39th St should be open, so that's a possible option. The coffee is bound to be good but not sure what the decor will be like.
Ground Support has pretty good coffee but is kind of a madhouse. But there's hardly another place in Soho that combines the possibility of writing with the possibility of good coffee.
A favorite spot to write, with variable quality coffee, is Ost Cafe on Ave A & E 12th St. A place nearby with far better coffee and pretty decor (although nowhere near the old school charm of the former) is the new branch of Third Rail Coffee on E 10th St & 2nd Ave.
There are many other places as well. Here are some in Manhattan besides the aforementioned that meet your criteria:
- Culture Espresso
- Cafe Grumpy 20th St branch
- Joe the Art of Coffee 13th St branch
- Gasoline Alley
- Ninth Street Espresso Ave C branch
There are more - this is off the top of my head.
Manhattan coffee shops tend to be small and many of them now discourage lingering and don't have available outlets or wifi. I am not sure if wifi is a requirement and if you're writing on a laptop or not.
In Soho, try Ground Support, there are lots of people working/using laptops there most of the time.
Near Penn Station, try the lobby of the Ace Hotel. Lots of people doing work in there, most of the time. If that's full, the food stalls at the Eventi Hotel usually have some open seating, but the atmosphere is not as cool and cozy.
Yes, Clinton St Baking Co is worth going to the LES for; however, if you are going on a weekend, count on a long line. People routinely wait 2+ hours. If you are a party of 1, they may be able to seat you more quickly at a tiny counter seat. Order the pancakes with maple butter, or the breakfast sandwich with tomato jam.