I'm looking for a good cafe in the East Bay to work a few hours at a stretch. My favorites in SF for atmosphere are the original Potrero Hill Farley's (wifi-workers, chatters, people with dogs, artists, a little scungy, good range of not-too-loud music) and Epicenter (some of the best coffee ever, good range of music, and a blend of friendly workaholic wifiers/workaholic startup meetups). These two places are wildly different, but between them they capture what I'm looking for: they're places where people drop in and out through the day rather than camp on their laptops for hours on end, and each is mercifully free of sneering hipsters, sneering baristas, rows and rows of sullen wifi-warriors, loud music and, well, people who are enjoying themselves by also being really loud. (Sorry, happy loud people.)
Sadly, when I dropped in at Actual Cafe this week I was really put off by the sneery customer vibe -- quite different from what I'd experienced on an earlier visit last year. And Farley's Emeryville felt utterly lifeless.
So where do you go in Oakand/Berkeley to work on a laptop/write/read/snack quietly for a few hours? Wifi is nice because it tends to mean fewer loud conversations and big groups, but I can live without it. Good third-gen coffee is a real plus but I can deal with somewhere akin to Martha's if most of the other boxes are checked. Where do you go when you work from home but home is too distracting?