Along with being the cultural and religious center of Bali, Ubud is becoming filled with more and more travelers who come to this quiet nook to find themselves, practice yoga or work. This last group, the “Digital Nomads” use wifi, smartphones and other cutting-edge tech in co-working spaces and tucked-away cafes. Ubud has responded by creating café work opportunities that offer immersive experiences unique to Bali.
1. Anomali Cafe
If you’re a serious coffee buff, maybe someone who can tell the difference between a bean sourced in Colombia and one from Costa Rica, then Anomali Cafe is the place for you. But, even if you don’t consider yourself a coffee snob, you’ll still love it. In addition to regular table seating, Anomali has an alcove with a low table and pillows to lounge on as you sip your mocha latte. The downstairs is usually quiet, but you can also head upstairs to the rooftop.
2. Habitat Cafe
I was scoping out the well-known co-working space, Hubud, and decided not to buy the prohibitively costly membership. As I left, I noticed folks, some with laptops, enjoying juice and food on a patio under a bamboo roof, while Habitat staff members armed with slingshots warded monkeys from the nearby monkey forest.
“This is the place,” I thought. Habitat Cafe has an excellent staff – you’ll be lucky if you have Agus or Noori as your servers. Habitat’s menu offers western favorites, such as eggs benedict, waffles and pancakes, as well tourist fare such as smoothie bowls, various elixirs and craft kombucha. None of this is expensive by Western standards, but pricey for Southeast Asia.
3. Seniman Coffee Studio
Seniman Coffee Studio is a haven for coffee buffs. You’ll see a variety of glass beakers and newfound contraptions that heat the coffee to a specific temperature, and make it seem like you’re in a Frankenstein movie. You can order anything from a three-coffee taster to a five-coffee taster with an alcohol shot, to single-origin chocolate drinks, as well as a variety of cold brews. The large space features communal and semi-communal seating, as well as outdoor tables. Seniman is also a studio where they create glassware using repurposed glass. Their shop lies across the street.
4. Ubud Food Court
Ubud Food Court is across the street from Saury Healing Food and contains bamboo tables and chairs and a countertop facing Jalen Sikma. If you’re used to an American “food court,” Bud Food Court isn’t that yet. But, there’s heavy construction going on in and the space will be a true food court in no time. The food is Balinese fare – nashi goring, mien goreng. Try the iced lychee juice. Bud Food Court has wifi – and ice cream.
Website: None yet
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5. Jambali Cafe
The menu had traditional Jamaican fare – escovitch fish, jerk chicken, red bean stew – but with a Balinese twist. The owner, Michele, could easily be on Top Chef or any other major cooking show, and she and her staff are a family. Michele is still working to secure all of the Jamaican fixings, such as rum and ackee. Nonetheless, you’ll feel cared for.
6. Sawobali Cake & Coffee Shop
Sawobali Cake & Coffee Shop isn’t the biggest, but you can’t miss it when you spot the red and white “Daily Vegan Buffet,” sign. They feature a daily all-you-can-eat vegan buffet for 50,000IDR ($3.75), including barbeque tempeh, other tempeh dishes and stir-fried salads. The restaurant doubles as a bakery and triples as a museum, with antique paintings and sculptures. Sawobali has regular two-chair seating, but also one large communal table in the middle of the store.
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Kismet has geometric chandeliers and carefully-constructed terrariums. The tabletops are glass boxes containing treasures. What’s coolest is that in order to get service, you have to pull the red lightbulb above your table, and someone will come over promptly. The food is delicious. Grab a seat on the second floor, a large open air space with seating that is semi-outdoor. The staff is friendly, attentive and they bring out little dried towels with small cups of water to refresh your face or hands.
Alchemy is a large room, featuring both community seating and private tables. The café has delicious-looking salads and baked goods; bamboo / glass straws, musical instruments, soaps, etc. There are two beautiful bathrooms with hundreds of rocks inlaid on the floors and mirrors that take up entire walls. If you’re looking to do work, head there 8-1pm before it starts to get crowded and noisy.
Juno’s is a dome with seating in every crevice. If you’re more of a traditional worker, they also have proper desks. The food is healthy and well-priced, featuring everything from egg scramble wraps to smoothie bowls. They have a library and sell other knick-knacks like glass straws and candles.
For better or worse, the time of the digital nomad in Ubud is in its heyday. So, plop down with your laptop, suck up your caffeine and get to work. The time is now.