Cuenca is a beautiful city, with many expats, a respectable amount of tourism, a super-charming UNESCO World Heritage Site city center, A+ mountain rivers running through it, awesome huge stairways leading to the center, many good restaurants, local healing hot springs, and even a broken bridge. Cost of living is also very reasonable, and I scored a sweet brand new place, with a 20×20 balcony, for $300, with everything included. Unsurprisingly, it is also fairly well-supplied with some nice cafes, as you will see.
The first cafe is Cafe Austria. When I first went here, I thought it wasn’t suitable because it is a bit fancier, and is more of a full service restaurant. However, I ended up coming back because it is one of the only places open into the evening on Sunday, and also on holidays. Actually, you will often see people on laptops or iPads, and the staff are cool with you being there for a few hours, as long as it is not during the busy lunch period. It is a big place, with lots of tables, and a fair number of them have outlets available. I believe the hours are 8-10:30 every day. I see that Google is now saying they are closed Sundays. Maybe they have changed their schedule, but they were open on Sundays when I was there.
Palier Cafe LibroPalier is really alright. It’s a combination cafe and bookstore, and has some outdoor seating as well (which is not so common in Cuenca, because of the unpredicatable showers). It’s pretty limited for food, but you should be fine with the coffee beverages. You will quite frequently see people doing stuff on computers there, and there is an outlet or two kicking around as well. The hours are from 9am to 7pm Monday thru Friday, and 11am to 6pm on the weekend.
Cafe Lojano is included here because they have the best cup of Loja coffee I’ve had, and one of the most distinctive cups of coffee I’ve tasted in all my travels. I tried both an Americano with cold milk and the cappuchino, and they were both a real flavor experience. They are doing something special with the roasting here, and producing I think the best cup in Cuenca. If you like trying the different varietals as you go along, do not miss Cafe Lojano. They have two branches, one a few blocks to the west of the main plaza, and one four blocks to the east. The one to the west is larger, but didn’t have wifi last time I checked. The one to the east is much smaller, but does have wifi, and outlets too. That is the one I frequented. The hours are 9am to 7pm every day, except Saturdays when they go till noon, and Sundays when they are closed.
San Sebas Cafe
San Sebas Cafe is on a pleasant side plaza (San Sebas Plaza, surprise surprise), where there are a number of cafes, and also the Modern Art Museum. This is probably the best cafe on the plaza to work in because they have a nice loft area and outlets as well. It is really more of a breakfast and lunch place, and they are strong with the food, but close a bit early. Their hours are 8:30 to 3:30 every day, except Monday and Tuesday, when they are closed.
Goza Espresso Bar
So Goza here is really the “it” cafe in town, ruling over its own little side plaza. The outside area is pretty much always rolling, just like in the picture. There is also an inside area, and people are sometimes working on computers there, and I think I remember a few outlets too. Being such a “happening” cafe, it is not really so ideal for working. But you might get away with it after lunch and before 5pm. On the other hand, if have you want to have some cappuchinos (or vino) with friends and chill on the plaza, this is the spot, no question. The hours are from 12 noon to 10:30pm every day, except Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, when they are open till midnight. It is worth noting that there is another, larger branch of Goza in the Huayna-Capac area, across the Tomebamba river. It’s about a 15 minute walk from downtown, and probably a better place to work, since it’s larger and not so quite so busy.
Piedra de Agua
This last place is on the outskirts of Cuenca, in Baños, where the famous healing hotsprings are. There are a number of places where you can go in the springs, and Piedra de Agua is probably the nicest of them. This is the place that includes red and blue volcanic mud pools, steamboxes, etc. I figured they might have an alright cafe, and I was right. It’s a big place, with tons of seating, wifi that doesn’t even need a password, outlets, and a gourmet menu that is actually pretty reasonable. I think they are really in the hot pools business, but they are happy to add on some refreshments as well. Coffees were just 2 bucks, and cappuchinos 3 bucks. I wasn’t too sure how they would react to me getting out my computer and working, but they were totally cool. The cafe was empty when I arrived, but as people finished the pools, they were lounging around in their robes, and ordering cappuchinos as well. When you arrive and they ask how they can help, just tell them you are going to the cafe, and they will give you a wood thing with a number that keeps your tab. The hours are from 6am to 10pm every day, and you can get here with the 12 bus or 100 bus. When you are done working, you can even take a dip in the hot pools, or [smile] order some Ecuadorian chocolate mouse ice cream with walnuts and orange slices!
Have a great stay in Cuenca folks!