For Alamedans who sometimes (or always) work around town on your laptops and need to be well-connected, here’s a list of local cafes that provide wireless access. Please chime in with other places that my research assistant (pictured left working at Java Rama) and I may have missed. Advice and observations about the quality of the wireless and the coffee are much appreciated.
Julie’s: On Park Street across from the Alameda Athletic Club, Julie’s wireless signal has always been solid on all our visits. Drinks are first rate (I’m partial to the Mexican hot chocolate).
Dewey’s Friends (the Alameda library cafe): You just need an email address to log on, but the signal is strong and stays on whenever the library is open (not just when cafe is doing business). My trusty assistant reports, though, that he has been unable to log onto his work “VPN” system here, which library tech guru Dave Boxton confirms has been a problem for other users as well. Both the Bay Farm and the West End branch libraries have WIFI, too.
Java Rama: A favorite of many, including College of Alameda students. Evenings can find this cafe buzzing with intellectual action. But, sad to say, the signal’s sometimes spotty, which can be a heart-breaker, especially if you find out that the connection is down after you’ve already bought your latte and settled in for a long evening’s work. (But you can’t beat the hours: Java Rama is open 6 a.m.-10:30 p.m. during the week and from 6:30 to 10:30 on the weekends.)
The Beanery (in the Marketplace): It closes at 7 p.m. every day but Sunday (opening at 5:45 a.m. during the week) and the signal is reliable and strong and the ambiance is quite fine. But their security system—they use Surf and Sip—requires you to login and enter a credit card number to access their signal. There’s no charge, they just want to know who you are.
Starbucks: All four Starbucks in town have wireless, but it’s T-Mobile run and you’ve got pay to play, $6 bucks an hour. The good news is that Steve, manager at the Park and Central Starbucks, says the company is launching, come April or May, a free WIFI program through AT&T. “We’re not sure the exact date, but they’ll be rolling it sometime this spring starting in the Bay Area,” reports Steve. “Any customer who has a Starbucks card—which they can register online for free—will be able to access WIFI for two hours for free.”
Spritzer’s: Open 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Spritzer’s is a cozy, friendly cafe near Washington Park on Central Ave. The wireless is free and I’ve never, in my dozen or so visits, had any trouble getting on and staying on.
Crosstown Coffeehouse: Kitty-corner from the Encinal Market shopping center, Crosstown’s wireless has never let me down. Only problem, they’re closed Sundays and you might want to check their event schedule (Cowboy Jared sings to toddlers on Friday mornings, for example) if you’re looking for a subdued work environment.
Just when I thought I had completed my survey, my excellent source, GM, reminds me that the recently-opened Little House Cafe on Blanding also has free WIFI. They close at 4 p.m. on weekdays and are closed on weekends.