Traipsing along Casco Viejo, the old town of Panama City, you’ll notice that there is an abundance of cute cafes to while away the days beautifully. The colonial balconies and string lights watch over you as you take in what is Panama City’s most popular tourist spot for good reason. In “Downtown Panama”, there are similarly lots of cosy places to get your coffee (or tea) fix and lose track of time. Being a remote worker myself without an office per se, I find renewed inspiration in the bustle and grind of a coffee shop, and the inviting aroma of the coffee grounds. Locating myself in a warm coffee shop brings out the inner poet in me, and is one of my favoured places to people watch. They similarly provide sweet shelter on any of Panama’s notorious rainy days (there are many, many rainy days in Panama). Curl up with a warm brew at any of these ten fine establishments.
1. Papaya Planet
Everything about Papaya Planet is optimistically upbeat. There’s even a smiley face stuck onto the mirrors in the restrooms to remind you to smile- in case you forgot. Papaya is a bookstore and café and is an utterly pleasant place to spend the day. The food is also sublime.
Papaya Planet, Avenida B, Casco Viejo, Panamá, Panama
2. Mentiritas Blancas
Mentiritas Blancas is a great place to try Geisha coffee, which Panama is fast becoming renowned for. The shop describes itself as an “Artisan bakery and coffee lab”. It’s anyone’s guess however, why it’s called Mentiritas Blancas, which is Spanish for “little white lies”, but oh well.
Mentiritas Blancas, Local 2B, Edificio de Mar, Calle Gaspar O. Hernandez, Panamá, Panama
When last did you visit a coffee shop with its own souvenir and clothing store next door? The choice is yours at Lumaca in Casco Viejo. Head over to their Instagram account immediately to see the variety of highly tantalising cakes on offer.
Lumaca, Calle 9A Oeste y Avenida A. Casco Viejo, Panamá, Panama
4. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
California import The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf keeps remote workers afloat in Punta Pacifica, Balboa Avenue, Costa del Este and a small branch in Multiplaza. Flying out of Panama City? There’s a branch at Tocumen International airport too.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Locations in Punta Pacifica, Balboa Avenue, Costa del Este, Tocumen Airport and Multiplaza Mall
Benissimo’s enchanting building just beckons you to enter when walking through Casco Viejo’s fabled cobbled streets. Once inside, you are greeted by a plethora of tantalising gelato flavours and the scent of warm waffles and fresh coffee. I dare you to resist.
Benissimo Gelato & Café, Avenida A, Casco Viejo, Panamá, Panama
6. Casa Sucre
Casa Sucre opened up in Casco Viejo over four years ago, and has established itself as one of the best (and cosiest) coffee shops in the area. It also happens to be attached to a Boutique Hotel, so checking in upstairs is a promising possibility if you find yourself taking to its home comforts. There aren’t too many plug sockets and you are given a wifi voucher that’s valid for just 1.5 hours, so this might not be the place to spend the afternoon working.
Casa Sucre Coffee, Calle 8 y Ave B, Casco Viejo, Panamá, Panama
7. Bajareque Coffee House
Coffee lovers will be pleased to try Bajareque’s Panamanian coffee blends, worthy of winning the Panama Brewers Cup for 2017.
Bajareque Coffee House, Calle 1era, Casco Viejo, Panamá, Panama
8. Super Gourmet
Imagine if Subway was Panamanian and made sandwiches right before your eyes that were healthier, heartier and certainly larger? Well, that’s Super Gourmet for you. This Casco Viejo establishment is as good a place as any to lose track of time. The manager Marc seems to know everyone that comes in, and if he doesn’t already, he makes it his business to do so. If you find yourself in Bocas del Toro, there is a small branch there too.
Super Gourmet, Calle 6a Oeste, Casco Viejo, Panamá, Panama
9. Nomada Eatery
It’s clear that many eat at Nomada purely to work, particularly in the early afternoons. You may find yourself sandwiched between graphic designers, and architects working on their blueprints, as well as their burgers. It’s right next door to Casco institution Luna’s Castle, one of the most famous hostels in the area, and therefore a hub for tourists and travellers alike. Nomada feels very hip, largely due to the funky art dazzlingly on display. From literature books glued to the bathroom walls, to a painting of a sequin hat-wearing skull, Nomada’s décor will inspire you. There’s also outside seating available for those scorching days. The menu includes a fantastic breakfast and the lunch of the day is always sizeable, varied and good value at $7. A cup of tea on the other hand, isn’t the most inexpensive at around $3.21 per cup, including suggested tip.
Nomada Eatery, Calle 9na 3-28, Casco Viejo, Panamá, Panama
10. Café Unido
Unido is a delightful coffee shop chain with five branches dotted all over Panama City. The fine brews attract people to bring their work here, whatever the nature. It is not uncommon to see people conducting job interviews and transatlantic video calls at The American Trade Hotel branch in Casco Viejo. Unido at Multiplaza is nestled in the rather opulent Luxury Avenue of the Mall, neighboured by Dolce & Gabbana, Polo, Hermes and Michael Kors. It is known for its chic, clean décor, and effervescently friendly staff and baristas. Panama isn’t generally known for its customer service, making this fact particularly noteworthy. Also worth mentioning, is the impeccable Wi-Fi here.
Café Unido, locations in Casco Viejo, Multiplaza Mall, San Francisco, Costa del Este and Marbella
Rosie Bell is an international travel writer, author of the book “Escape To Self”, and Content Editor for Club Elsewhere. Follow her on Instagram @TheBeachBell.