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Places of Productivity

A few months ago, I started writing about local small businesses, specifically coffee shops, that would serve as alternative places to work. I’ve reflected on my own experience as a small business owner who works remotely, often by myself. I have learned that getting out of the house every so often is helpful for my creativity and productivity. It’s also a win-win to support other small businesses while working somewhere other than at home. Since my first blog post in this series from early July, I have been to eight coffee/book shops in the vicinity (within a 45 minute drive from my house). These spaces have served as places of inspiration and connection.


September is a busy month full of celebrations in our family, between my sons’ birthdays, their parties, and our anniversary. I haven’t been to a local coffee shop in about a month now, so I’m eager to find more places to discover or revisit. I live in Perry Hall, and most of what we have around here is larger coffee companies like Dunkin and Starbucks.


Now I’m also playing catchup with blog writing in general, and I have four local spots to share here that I recently visited, starting with CoffeeBar Bel Air. I’m almost certain that I found out about them on social media, due to their consistent, catchy posts and unique drink options. My mother-in-law lives in Bel Air, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to check this place out and catch up with her. Gah! Now looking back at my photos, we were there almost exactly two months ago! Time really has flown. I remember it was during the hype of the Barbie movie premier and they had a special drink for the occasion.


CoffeeBar Bel Air

Address: 5 N Main St Suite 1H, Bel Air, MD 21014

Hours: M-Sat. 7 am-5 pm, Sun. 7 am-3 pm


The Space

CoffeeBar is located on Main Street in Bel Air, Maryland. The indoor space is a decent size, and it is attached to a co-working space. We happened to go on a Friday morning when it was really busy, so I didn’t take any photos of the indoor tables since they were all full. Fortunately, they also have outdoor seating so we chose a spot right out front. After looking at some photos online, I noticed that there was also seating upstairs. I’ll have to check that out the next time I go.



Menu

CoffeeBar has a unique variety of coffee drinks, some of which are seasonal, and they offer hot/cold options. In addition to coffee drinks, they have water, blended drinks, and iced drinks. They have an assortment of baked goods including muffins, bagels, and scones. According to the menu on their Facebook page, they also serve overnight oats.



Amenities

√ Free Wi-Fi

√ Outdoor Seating

√ Metered Parking out front

√ Lot Parking out back (free up to 2 hours)


Overall

CoffeeBar was a nice spot to have a visit with my mother-in-law. We shared a blueberry scone that was really good! After she left, I found a table inside to do some work briefly. I was mindful of the 2-hour time limit since I parked in the lot out back, and I was warned that the meter maids were very particular about extended parking.


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Bird in Hand

Address: 11 E 33rd St, Baltimore, MD 21218

Hours: M-Sun. 8 am-6pm


The Space

Bird in Hand is a quaint coffee shop/bookstore located in Charles Village, Baltimore with indoor and outdoor seating. It’s a corner building, with large windows that allow natural light to come through. I didn’t manage to get photos of the indoor or outdoor seating areas since I went at lunchtime during the week, and they were all pretty full. I found a seat at a counter facing out towards the street.




Menu

Bird in Hand has a full menu of options, including coffee, tea, specialty drinks, bottled/canned drinks, and spirits. They serve breakfast items, sandwiches, and salads. I ordered the Pesto Caprese sandwich on multigrain bread. It was a little on the pricey side, but delicious nonetheless.

Amenities

√ Free Wi-Fi

√ Outdoor Seating

√ Street Parking


Overall

Bird in Hand was a productive place to work for a few hours. In addition to the food and drinks, Bird in Hand has a wide assortment of books and gifts, many of which are from other local small businesses. I found a book on kindness to add to my son’s home library. The parking situation at Bird in Hand wasn’t ideal since I had to park several streets away, but thankfully it was a nice day out so I didn’t mind the distance.


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Aveley Farms Coffee Roasters

Address: 42 W Chesapeake Ave, Towson, MD 21204

Hours: M-F 7 am-4pm, Sat. & Sun. 8 am-3pm


The Space

Aveley Farms is located off Chesapeake Avenue in downtown Towson. I met a friend there last month. There is a big coffee cup mural on the side of the building, and it has an inviting, spacious feel to it as you walk in. Indoor and outdoor seating is available.



Menu

Aveley Farms offers coffees, teas, pressed juices, an assortment of toasts, bagels, and other baked items. They also have merch and bags of their own roasted coffee, . I got a piece of coffee cake to go with my coffee, and now that I’m thinking about it, I want to go back ASAP to get one again.


Amenities

√ Free Wi-Fi

√ Outdoor Seating

√ Metered Street Parking


Overall

Although I didn’t end up doing work at the location that day, I could tell it was an ideal spot for working remotely. There were several power outlets and different seating options that didn’t feel cramped. The metered parking was one thing that prevented me from staying longer, but I do plan to go back there soon.


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Dreamers & Make-Believers

Address: 400 S Highland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224

Hours: Closed Mondays, Tu-Sat. 8 am-6 pm, Sun. 8 am-4 pm


The Space

I learned about Dreamers & Make-Believers after the owner posted about it in a Facebook group that I’m in, so I made a point to stop by when I was in the area. The business is pretty new, and I almost missed the signage when I was looking for it from across the street. The store is well-lit from its large windows along the front and side of the building. It has a roomy entrance with a few tables, and another sitting area with couches to the side of that.



Menu

Dreamers & Make-Believers serves coffee drinks, kombucha, sodas, and other cold beverages, along with assorted baked goods. What’s most impressive about this business is the extensive collection of books, magazines, and other forms of writing that they offer. They also sell toys, games, apparel, etc. which can all be found on their website.



Amenities

√ Free Wi-Fi

√ Assorted Seating Options

√ Metered Street Parking


Overall

Dreamers & Make-Believers was an inviting and inspiring space to sit and work. I spent a good amount of time perusing the shelves of books, stickers, and other merchandise. Although I didn’t get a book for myself this time, I found a great early-reader book about dinosaurs for James!


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After writing about each of these places, it occurred to me that they each had large windows to allow natural light in. I've found natural light to be helpful in my own productivity and energy levels while working. While I don't often work outside, it does help to get some fresh air and sunlight for a little energy and mood boost during the day.


Where and when do you feel most productive while working?




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