Lattes and laptops

Jerusalemites are increasingly logging on to a new work environment - coffee shops.

internet cafe computers  (photo credit: )
internet cafe computers
(photo credit: )
While Jerusalem is often lauded for its preservation of the past, the city's numerous coffee shops and Internet cafes are experiencing a wave of the future. People from all walks of life are beginning to seize the opportunities made available by high-speed Internet connections offered throughout the city and are setting up their workspace outside of business headquarters. Workers just sit down with their laptops or a computer made available by the cafe and keep up with their daily routine from a more inviting environment. A growing number of Jerusalemites are heading out of the office for a cup of coffee and an Internet connection. Inside Rehavia's Coffee Shop on Rehov Aza - a local coffee chain and eatery - Melbourne native Dalit Kaplan insists that working in the office is a thing of the past and that using the capital's plethora of coffee shops and Internet cafes is gaining in popularity. "It's the new office!" she says. "And the benefit is that you don't have to deal with colleagues you don't like, and you don't have management breathing down your neck. Even if I had Internet at home, I would still work from a coffee shop because I know I procrastinate less if I have people around me." In Nahlaot, YCafe sees dozens of people show up for their day at the office, amid the hiss of the espresso machine and light jazz strains in the background. "I like to come and set up my stuff in here. There are too many distractions at home," says Daphna, a freelance writer who admits to spending most of her day in front of her computer screen. "This way, I can sit here and do my work, and at least feel like I'm getting out of the house." In that vein, In Jerusalem went into the field and brought back a short list of great places to work from. Coffee Net Rehov Agrippas 10 Coffee Net owner Royi Mizrachi openly admits his commitment to customer satisfaction. "We believe in helping the client," Mizrachi says, "whether they need help navigating the Internet or just want a quiet place to chat with friends overseas. I like to look at this place as one big family." In fact, Mizrachi's Internet cafe, situated between King George Avenue and the Mahaneh Yehuda market, is thriving. "Every night, we're full," he says. Mizrachi opened Coffee Net four months ago, pouring half a million shekels into the place. The 14 private computer rooms are all equipped with LCD screens, eight mega high-speed Internet connections, personal air conditioning and an array of chat windows, cameras and Internet browsers. However, Mizrachi is quick to admit, the Internet service is only the beginning. Tapping into the burgeoning population of Americans in Jerusalem, Coffee Net is also part sports bar. Mizrachi shows NFL football and NBA basketball games at the customers' request, not to mention soccer. All sports are shown on two large, high-definition flat screen TVs. The bar is stocked with choice whiskeys and vodkas, along with a respectable list of beer. Another special feature of Coffee Net is its coffee. "We exclusively use Coffee Time coffee from Tel Aviv," Mizrachi says. "It's the best. I tried all brands available before deciding, and Coffee Time fits our image - it's on a very high level. Everything here is on a high level: the computers, the Internet service, the sports and the food." Mizrachi also offers pastries and has combo deals with baked goods to go with your cup of joe. Internet prices are NIS 14 for one hour, NIS 9 for 30 minutes, and Playstation games, hooked up to a third TV set at the entrance, go for NIS 20 an hour for two people and NIS 15 an hour for one. There is a happy hour every day, from opening until 8 p.m., with discounts for students and regulars. Coffee Shop Derech Aza 40 While Coffee Shop offers no house computers for customers' use, the longstanding Israeli coffee chain has grown into a de-facto office for many of Jerusalem's professionals. Any given day will find the Rehavia branch filled with laptop users, working away with their latte or cappuccino at their side. The atmosphere is clean, well lit and friendly, and the WiFi service is very reliable. While some customers feel the need to purchase drinks and food as long as they are logged on, Coffee Shop management says it is happy to simply offer the service. "Sometimes people come in and don't buy much, they just sit and use the Internet," says Moshik, a manager at the Rehavia branch. "It's not ideal, but look, we're offering a service here, and I'm not going to tell one person he's okay because he had two cappuccinos but tell another customer to hurry up because he's still working on his first. It doesn't work like that. Sure, on a Friday morning when we're full and it's busy, it can be a problem; but otherwise, it's not a big deal." Coffee Shop is open Sunday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fridays from 8 a.m. until the afternoon, and Saturday night from midnight to 3 a.m. in the summertime. The dairy menu is moderately priced and kosher mehadrin. YCafe Rehov Nissim Behar 14 Sometimes you need to get out of the office and go to a place where Bohemian hipsters sip coffee with Orthodox patrons. Yes, such a place exists, but only in the old, artsy enclave of Nahlaot. YCafe is not an Internet cafe but a small, cozy coffee shop with a strong wireless connection and plenty of customers who take full advantage of the service. There is one house computer, which is free for customers to use, but bringing your own laptop is recommended. The coffee menu is basic and prices are moderate, but the friendly service and tasty drinks are more than satisfactory. Nonetheless, the main charm at YCafe is the atmosphere and its unique combination of Jerusalem residents who come in and out throughout the day. The cafe also serves as a gallery for local photographer Yoram Amir, whose work adorns the walls. YCafe is open from 8 a.m. until midnight Sunday to Thursday, on Fridays from 8 a.m. until an hour before Shabbat, and Saturday night from an hour after Shabbat ends until midnight. Coffee beverages cost between NIS 6 and NIS 14. A light selection of pastries is available, and tasty salads and sandwiches cost NIS 20 to NIS 30. Kosher, no certificate. Cafe Net Central Bus Station Located on the third floor of the bus station, Cafe Net has 30 computers in its two-story cafe space. The Internet connection speed isn't that fast, but it's manageable. However, the only available Web browser is Internet Explorer, which has trouble reading some Web sites. The atmosphere is bustling, and the bright lights and row of worldwide clocks lend a professional feel to the place. Service is decent, with two or three employees working the front counter, handing out log-in passwords and a fine selection of food. "We bake all our pastries on the premises," says Chen, one of the cashiers. "They're made fresh every day, and they're delicious." Cafe Net's menu includes muffins, croissants, danishes and other baked goods, along with a full menu of sandwiches and coffee, both hot and cold. "People come in for all kinds of reasons," continues Chen. "Some just want a cup of coffee - they don't even use the Internet. Others bring in their laptops. But you can see," she says, pointing to the row of Internet users typing away at their queues, "we have tons of people who come in and just want to get on line." The cafe is open from 5:30 a.m. until midnight. The prices are moderate, and Internet use goes for NIS 12 for one hour; NIS 9 for 30 minutes; and NIS 7 for 15 minutes. Combos include special prices for coffee and a pastry, and customers who purchase upwards of three hours of Internet service receive free drinks. Kosher. PresenTense Rehov Emek Refaim 64 If Internet cafes aren't your thing, there are other options. Offering an innovative spin on the conventional workspace, PresenTense Jerusalem - a social entrepreneurial network that has sprouted up in the capital - provides an option that's somewhat out of the ordinary. PresenTense is a global community with networks all over the world, waiting to become physical manifestations like its Jerusalem hub. Located in the heart of the German Colony, amid a slew of wireless-enabled coffee shops, the PresenTense hub is a workspace for rent that feels like your living room. The second-story apartment has been converted into a number of workrooms, including desks, a conference room, conversation clusters and a bedroom if you need to spend the night. While PresenTense isn't focused solely on Internet service, it is certainly one of the cooler and more comfortable options. "PresenTense offers an environment that is inspiring and creative," says Melissa Schwab, the PresenTense Jerusalem hub's animator. "All members enjoy full access to our printer/scanner, WiFi, coffee/espresso bar and a like-minded community." Being a member isn't a must. "You can also come in off the street if you like, but we hope that people will eventually become members," Schwab says. "Basically, if you're tired of working out of coffee shops, PresenTense offers you a different environment in which you can sit down, go on line and get your work done." Open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Prices range from NIS 30 for a day drop-in rate to NIS 250 for three days a week per month. There is also an option of reserving a desk for a higher rate. The Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall The Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall, spanning from King George Avenue to Kikar Zion, has a free, full-service wireless network that extends its entire length. Since November 2004, this service has been extended to the nearby streets of Shlomzion Hamalka and Nahalat Shiva as well. The plethora of cafes and restaurants that line the strip are all connected, allowing you to bring your work with you while you have a meal or sip on a latte. If spending money isn't your thing, you can sit at any of the street's numerous tables and surf away for as long as you like.