Cafes in Penang for writers and digital nomads

Georgetown is a former colonial city on the island of Penang in Malaysia. The old town is lined with colonial-era buildings and and the entire inner city is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I love visiting Penang and I’ve been numerous times, with visits lasting from 2 days to one month. The food scene is one of the best in Asia and it is a pleasure to wander around and admire the old town architecture.

One thing that has been lacking is a cafe scene. Traditional cafes here are kopi tiam style, which offer a simple food menu and a place to chat with friends. They are not cafes you would sit down and write in or crack open a laptop.

Recently though Penang has had a cafe boom. There now cafes that serve espresso style coffee and are conducive for working in. With this newfound cafe culture, Penang might yet become a digital nomad hub.

Continuing with my cafe series, here is a list of cafes in Penang (Georgetown) that are suitable for writers and digital nomads.

[Penang Cafes Map.]

Mugshot Cafe

Mugshot Cafe: Georgetown - Penang

Mugshot brings a slice of Australian-style cafe life to Georgetown. It’s located in the heart of the backpacker area of Lebuh Chulia so it can be hard to get a seat at peak times.

Location: 302 Lebuh Chulia, Georgetown

Sugar Honey

Sugar Honey: Georgetown - Penang

Lots of artistic flair in this lovely shophouse building, and good coffee as well.

Location: 26, Lebuh Campbell, Georgetown

Moustache Houze

Moustache Houze: Georgetown - Penang

Next door to Sugar Honey is the equally oh-so-hip Moustache Houze. I like them both so for me it came down to popping my head into either cafe and seeing which one had a spare seat.

Location: 24, Lebuh Campbell, Georgetown

Cat Cafe

Cat Cafe: Georgetown - Penang

The mania of cat cafes that is sweeping across Asia has arrived in Penang. Probably not the most productive place to work from but nice if you like having cats around (and who doesn’t?)

Location: 53 Jalan Muntri, Georgetown.

Mish Mash

Mish Mash: Georgetown - Penang

Mish Mash is a cafe/bar and gallery, with suitable working area at the back of the cafe section.

Location: 24 Muntri Street, Georgetown.

Budan’s Brew

Budan's Brew: Georgetown - Penang

Nice cafe centrally located off Love Lane.

Location: 2 Lorong Argus, Georgetown.

Kantan Kafe

Kantan Kafe: Georgetown - Penang

Another good option on Lebuh Campbell.

Location: 4 Lebuh Campbell, Georgetown.

Lighthouse Coffee

Lighthouse Coffee: Georgetown - Penang

Lighthouse Coffee proclaim that they serve Melbourne-style lattes, so they won me over easily enough.

Location: Logan Heritage Building, 4 Bishop Street, Georgetown.

Si Tigun Micro Coffee Roastery

Micro Coffee Roastery: Georgetown - Penang

Micro Coffee Roastery is lovely corner building at the edge of Georgetown.

Location: Jalan Nagor, Georgetown

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  1. I would definitely go to Sugar Honey, Moustache Houze and Budan’s Brew. Thanks for these interesting locations!

  2. Wow – an amazing array of cafes – i ilke the look of the latte at Lighthouse cafe. Great post.

  3. Thanks for nice cafes… There are cat cafes in Tokyo as well, but I didn’t try it. Personally, Mish Mash attracted me the most.

  4. Holy Smokes James that’s an impressive summary! You’re miles ahead of anyone else as to go-to guy for reviews on Coffee Shop Virtual Offices (Coffices?) keep up the good work.
    Mugshot for the win, by the way :)

  5. Gotta love coffee shops wherever you are in the world! I always end up in one when I need to get some things done, and I’m on the other side of the planet. There’s just no fun in staying in at the hotel 😉

  6. Loved your style of writing James… the way you share your perspective is what keeps the magic going… just stumbled on your site today & i must say i m hooked! Looking forward to spending more time here… & i think i like Lighthouse cafe most, gives a very rustic feeling…

  7. In Penang right now hoping to catch up on some freelance work and my own blog — this is perfect and exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for the help James!

  8. Me and my husband keep exploring cafe houses to spend our leisure time. And thanks to you, we got some new places. Excited to visit them.

  9. Hi James,

    We’re keeping this list handy for when we return to Penang for a longer stay. We’ve been to both Mugshot and Mostache Houze and loved them both. When we went in 2013 both had just opened. Looking forward to exploring the others. I hope you are well.

  10. Chris Schwarz says:

    James – I was in Penang last month, Mugshot Cafe knocked down a door in their wall and built through into the bakery next door. Best croissants in Malaysia!

  11. Currently in Penang working remotely for about ten days. Mugshot has been my go-to so far. Their yogurt is amazing. Another solid choice nearby is The Alley, but only have a few outlets. Wifi at both is good for the area.

  12. Thanks, exactly what I was looking for.
    I guess they don’t like us sitting there past an hour…do they? Then again I order only a coffee or drink <RM10. Am really looking for the reason WHY they don't like it. Sigh.

  13. WIFI sucks all over Penang, FYI.
    Nobody even mentions the Internet speed at any of those places, what kind of digital nomad wannabes are you.

    • That wasn’t my experience. The wifi at Mugshot was fine back in February, I worked there every day for almost two weeks.

      Also you can get a 4G data sim for cheap and just tether your phone, I did that for working at cafes with poor wifi and it was perfect.

  14. I recommend Wheelers cafe on Love Lane. Good quality WiFi, great menu and good coffee. The staff are helpful, although it is a little pricier than other cafes that I’ve been to. I usually stay there for 2hours or more and don’t feel hassled to move on. It’s a little quirky too, with bicycles on the walls.

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