Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK
Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Hidden Gems in London's Cafe Scene
London is known for its bustling cafe culture, with charming coffee shops and tea houses on just about every corner. But venture off the beaten path and you’ll discover some hidden gems that most tourists never experience. Tucked away on side streets, in local neighborhoods, and sometimes even hidden inside other businesses are cafes that serve up delicious coffee, tea, and treats without the crowds.
One such cafe is Timberyard in Seven Dials. Don't be put off by its unassuming exterior - inside you'll find exposed brick walls, plants hanging from the ceiling, and a rotating display of artwork. The coffee is sourced from top roasters and brewed to perfection. Pair it with one of their fresh croissants or savory tarts. The vibe is cosy yet hip, making it popular with freelancers during the day. Stop by on weekends to experience Timberyard at its liveliest.
For a true mom-and-pop shop feeling, head to Attendant in Fitzrovia. This tiny cafe is located inside a former Victorian toilet. Yes, you read that right. The original porcelain urinals now house plants, and the former stalls serve as intimate two-person booths. Despite its quirky origins, Attendant serves seriously good coffee made with beans from specialty roasters like Square Mile and Ozone. Baked goods are lovingly made in-house. Try to nab one of the coveted window seats to people watch.
Computer nerds will delight in Department of Coffee and Social Affairs' flagship cafe inside an old police station. The interior pays homage to its history with touches like handcuff-handle coffee mugs. Baristas use cutting-edge brewing techniques on coffee sourced directly from growers. Food offerings include fresh salads, sandwiches, and pastries. The atmosphere is lively and casual, especially when the sun is shining on the outdoor patio. Don't miss their monthly coffee cupping sessions and free barista workshops.
What else is in this post?
- Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Hidden Gems in London's Cafe Scene
- Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Cozy Cafes in Edinburgh
- Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Brighton's Beachfront Cafes
- Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Manchester's Independent Cafe Culture
- Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Cafes with History in Bath
- Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Brews with a View in the Lake District
- Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Warm Up in Belfast's Coffee Shops
- Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Cardiff's Quirky Cafes
Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Cozy Cafes in Edinburgh
Tucked away on Edinburgh's winding lanes and tucked into cozy nooks are some of Scotland’s coziest cafes. The Scottish capital boasts a vibrant coffee culture, but it’s in the more hidden gems where you'll find places to unwind over a cup of tea or specialty coffee. Edinburgh's cafes come alive when the sun disappears behind the city's gothic spires and a chill wind blows in off the Firth.
On theRainy days, make your way to Wellington Coffee House near Haymarket Station for a reprieve. Locals have been hunkering down at this cafe for over a decade to warm up with coffee sourced from Scotland’s Ovenbird Coffee Roasters. The café exudes hygge appeal with its sage green walls, hanging plants, and mix of vintage and modern furniture. Grab a window seat to watch pedestrians scurry through the rain or snag the table tucked under the stairs for more privacy.
For a cozy and quirky atmosphere, Leith's Lovecrumbs is a must-visit. Owner Corin specializes in vegan and gluten-free baked goods that are anything but boring. Try the raspberry cheeselove cake or salted tahini cookie while admiring the retro decor, books, and artwork. Lovecrumbs is passionate about sustainability, using reusable serveware and biodegradable packaging.
Nearby Stockbridge is home to The Pantry, famed for its sweet and savory French toast. This tiny cafe overflows with charm and is ideal for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up. Scones, salads, and sandwiches are freshly made on site. Grab a comfy armchair by the window, tuck into your French toast drizzled with maple syrup, and watch Stockbridge locals go about their day.
No list of Edinburgh’s coziest cafes is complete without The Elephant House. This café overlooking Edinburgh Castle claims to be the birthplace of Harry Potter, with JK Rowling scribbling away at the earliest novels in the back room. The cafe pays homage to its storied history with subtle Harry Potter touches that stops short of feeling gimmicky. Beyond the cafes connection to the boy wizard, its maze of snug rooms and views of the castle keep make it one of Edinburgh's most charming spots for coffee.
Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Brighton's Beachfront Cafes
Make your way to the southeast coast’s sunniest city for a seaside coffee overlooking Brighton’s famous shoreline. Brighton boasts one of Britain’s most vibrant cafe scenes, with an array of trendy coffee shops and tea houses to explore. But it’s the beachfront cafes that really shine by offering up views of the English Channel as the perfect accompaniment to your expertly brewed coffee.
Nestled under Brighton Pier is perhaps the city’s best spot for coffee with a view – The Pier Beach Cafe. Sitting at one of the picnic tables on the deck with your toes in the sand as you sip your flat white is tough to beat. Enjoy the sound of waves lapping at the shore and seagulls calling overhead as you fuel up on coffee from local roaster Small Batch. Beyond coffee, The Pier Beach Cafe serves baked goods, sandwiches, and ice cream for the quintessential British beach day experience.
Just down the boardwalk you’ll find Lucky Beach Cafe, housed in a quaint blue and white striped hut. Lucky Beach Cafe prides themselves on coffee roasted daily in-house and even offers speciality options like cascara, the dried skin of the coffee cherry. Pair your coffee with one of their generous avocado and feta toasts topped with a poached egg for a satisfying beachside breakfast. The atmosphere here is laid-back and family-friendly.
For a trendy and Instagrammable cafe overlooking Brighton Beach, make your way to Shelter Hall. You can’t miss its neon pink signage rising above the beach huts. Shelter Hall serves specialty coffee, fresh juices, and acai bowls alongside a mouthwatering brunch menu. Grab a spot at one of the pastel picnic tables on the deck, or make your way upstairs to the mezzanine for an elevated sea view. Vibrant wall murals and hanging plants give Shelter Hall its carefree, beachy vibe.
No roundup of Brighton’s beach cafes would be complete without a mention of The Tempest Inn. Tucked away in a historic fisherman’s cottage, The Tempest Inn has been serving ale and seafood for over 200 years right on the pebble beach. Today, you can enjoy expertly brewed specialty coffee alongside a proper English fry up or freshly caught fish and chips. Drink in the views of the sea through the original multipaned windows. The Tempest Inn captures the essence of Brighton’s historic beachfront.
Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Manchester's Independent Cafe Culture
Manchester is a city brimming with youthful energy and creativity, with a thriving independent cafe scene that reflects the diversity and passion of its inhabitants. As big chains dominate high streets across Britain, Manchester bucks the trend with unique owner-operated establishments popping up across the city. From Ancoats to the Gay Village to the hip Northern Quarter, Mancunians are spoiled for amazing coffee spots run with heart.
The city’s independent cafes build community and bustle with unique experiences you can’t find anywhere else. At Ezra and Gil in Chorlton, you can enjoy experimental coffee drinks like turmeric maple lattes and matcha lemonade alongside Jewish-inspired small plates. The vividly painted Nibble in Levenshulme exudes quirky charm and a cozy vibe, with home-baked goods and coffee from reputable roasters. Or head to Foundation Coffee House for Aussie-style brunches in industrial-chic digs, washed down with expertly prepared espresso.
Manchester’s independent cafes also empower owners to make a positive impact. The Deaf Institute has provided jobs and a gathering place for the deaf community since 2015, pairing sign language classes with killer espresso. Siop Shop in the Northern Quarter employs refugees and asylum seekers, using coffee to build connections. These passionate owners elevate Manchester's already vibrant cafe culture.
Independent coffee shop owners are also keen to reduce their environmental impact, like the team at Home Sweet Home in the hip suburb of Altrincham. They avoid single-use packaging and struck up a deal with a local florist to pick up their discarded plants to compost into soil for use in the cafe’s garden. This kind of innovative thinking is common across Manchester’s indie coffee scene.
Of course, memorable cafe experiences are not just about ethics or aesthetics, but great tasting coffee. Manchester’s baristas take their coffee seriously, partnering with renowned roasters and implementing state-of-the-art equipment to create unforgettable drinks. You can taste the passion in every expertly crafted cappuccino. Couple that with the one-of-a-kind charm of independent shops and Manchester delivers a coffee culture that’s good for the community and the environment, not just the taste buds.
Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Cafes with History in Bath
With over 2,000 years of history, the city of Bath offers visitors a glimpse into England’s past while enjoying a relaxing cup of coffee. As you stroll the Georgian streets, you’ll come across charming cafes and coffee houses that seem untouched by time. Stepping through their doors transports you back through the centuries.
The Pump Room overlooks the Roman Baths and embraces its heritage as a fashionable gathering place since the 1700s. Chinese lanterns, sparkling chandeliers, and live piano set the mood as you enjoy morning coffee or traditional afternoon tea. Try the Pump Room’s own signature blend paired with freshly baked scones served by waiters in period costumes. Soak in the atmosphere of Jane Austen and Georgian high society. Reservations are recommended to secure a table during peak times.
Nearby is Bath’s oldest licensed coffee house, The Salamander. Since 1735, this cafe has been fueling Bath residents with expertly prepared coffee and tea. Exposed original stone walls covered in historic photos and antique advertisements capture The Salamander's long history. Take a seat at the bar looking out over bustling John Street or grab a leather armchair in the backroom for a more intimate experience. The coffee is locally roasted and the food menu puts a contemporary twist on classic British fare. Don't miss their fresh-baked pastries.
The Colonna & Small’s flagship cafe seamlessly blends Bath’s past with its present coffee culture.Housed in a former gentleman’s club from the 1700s, the multi-level cafe retains original period details from the art deco staircase to the carved fireplace. Their passion for specialty coffee shines through with Diedrich IR-5 roasters onsite and rotating guest coffees from acclaimed roasters. Combine single origin espresso with fresh-baked cookies or grab a window seat with views of the Abbey for the full Bath experience.
Green Park Brasserie occupies part of the historic Green Park Station building, serving commuters and tourists since 1867. Vintage luggage and royal portraits decorate the industrial-chic interior. Locally roasted coffee can be enjoyed gazing out toward Platform 2 and the trains pulling in, just as it was over a century ago. Beyond expertly brewed coffees, Green Park entices with fresh baked croissants, granola, and avocado toast. It captures the ambiance of Bath's 19th century railways.
No visit to Bath is complete without afternoon tea, and The Georgian Tearoom at the YHA provides an affordable and historic option. Overlooking the River Avon, you can enjoy steaming pots of loose-leaf tea and dainty finger sandwiches in a former Georgian townhouse. With large shared tables, it fuels conversation between travelers from around the world. The converted drawing room retains its original coved ceilings and marble fireplace for a true taste of Bath history. For coffee lovers, they also serve locally roasted batch brew.
Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Brews with a View in the Lake District
Tucked amid the rolling green fells and glassy lakes of northwest England’s Lake District sits some of Britain’s most scenic spots to relax with a hot cuppa. This national park’s postcard-perfect panoramas and fresh air inspire deep breaths and quiet contemplation; the perfect pairing for quality coffee or tea. From cozy towns like Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere to trails with views for days, you’ll discover cafes throughout the Lake District serving up brews with some of England’s most jaw-dropping vistas.
For a charming village experience, head to the Hole in T’ Wall in Bowness-on-Windermere. This timbered 16th century inn claims to be the town’s oldest hostelry. Inside you’ll discover low-beamed ceilings, roaring fireplaces, and walls cluttered with historic photos and vintage advertisements. But it’s the panoramic views of Lake Windermere that will truly take your breath away. Sip your coffee gazing out at the boats bobbing on the water, the ever-changing play of light, and the soaring peaks rising behind it all. The coffee isn’t fancy, but with scenery like this, it doesn’t need to be.
Nearby Hawkshead is home to Chesters By The River, an idyllic cafe set right on the River Rothay. The aroma of freshly ground coffee permeates the stone building as you gaze through giant picture windows at the gentle river flowing just feet away. Chesters takes care in preparing cappuccinos and cortados with beans from local roaster Cold Brew Co, pairing them beautifully with pastries baked in-house daily. Picnic tables dot the riverside for when the weather cooperates.
For a coffee experience literally on top of the world, venture up Orrest Head to the tiny Lakeland Pedlar cafe. At 784 feet above sea level, its panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows showcase all three Lake District greats: Windermere, Ullswater, and Coniston Water. On clear days, you can even spot Blackpool Tower in the distance. Lakeland Pedlar roasts their organic fair trade beans on site and serves them alongside soups, salads, and sandwiches. The outdoor terrace offers a front row seat to drink in the far-reaching views.
Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Warm Up in Belfast's Coffee Shops
With winds whipping in off the Irish Sea and rain a frequent visitor, Belfast is a city that demands cozy coffee shops where you can warm your hands around a latte and watch the storms roll by. As Northern Ireland’s capital continues its rise as an underrated European destination, a new generation of passionate coffee connoisseurs is fueling a specialty coffee movement in the city. From the hipster enclaves of the Cathedral Quarter to Instagram-worthy cafes in Queen’s Quarter, here are the best places in Belfast to warm up with expertly brewed coffees.
Located in the happening Cathedral Quarter, Established Coffee showcases beans from top Irish roasters like 3FE and Calendar as well as acclaimed international roasters like Oslo’s Tim Wendelboe. The spare, chic space with exposed brick walls and dangling Edison bulbs offers counter seating overlooking the top-of-the-line brewing kit. Watch the baristas prepare your single origin Chemex or specialty espresso drink with care on gleaming La Marzocco equipment. Beyond the coffee, Established’s brunch and lunch menus shine with dishes like avocado & poached egg toast and chicken & waffle club sandwiches.
For a cozy, neighborhood cafe vibe, head to Brewbot Espresso. Their original location is on the Ormeau Road in the vibrant Ballynafeigh district, but they’ve expanded to spots citywide. The cafe exudes hygge appeal with oriental rugs, leather armchairs, and shelves lined with books. Order a weekly rotating single origin coffee or vanilla Earl Grey tea, then tuck into a plate of sweet crepes or avocado toast. The atmosphere at Brewbot invites lingering.
Coffee lovers make the pilgrimage to the Stockholm-inspired General Merchants for its world-class coffee program overseen by World Brewers Cup champion Denni Arrizabalaga. Beans from specialty roasters like Denmark’s Coffee Collective are expertly brewed on La Marzocco equipment. Beyond expertly crafted lattes and pour overs, stop by for Nordic-influenced lunches and baked goods like open-faced smørrebrød sandwiches and cardamom buns. Sit at the blonde wood bar or grab a blue velvet chair in this Instagrammable space.
For a farm-to-cup experience just outside city limits, visit Ballylagan Organic Farm’s all-day cafe. They grow and roast their own organic coffee served alongside wholesome meals with ingredients fresh from their gardens. The rustic-chic cafe features upcycled furnishings like a table crafted from old whiskey barrels. Gaze out at grazing cattle as you sip your coffee by the fireplace or relax in the conservatory. Kids will love visiting the onsite farmyard animals. Finish off your visit with coffee roasted on site and a slice of their popular beetroot and chocolate cake.
Brews and Views: 10 Charming Cafes Serving Up the Best Coffee in the UK - Cardiff's Quirky Cafes
While often overshadowed by neighboring Bristol, Cardiff possesses its own dynamic cafe culture brimming with passion and personality. Off the beaten path in the Welsh capital are hidden gems with quirky charm: think repurposed warehouses, vintage memorabilia, and even a double-decker bus converted into an espresso bar. These funky finds offer some of the city’s tastiest coffee paired with one-of-a-kind atmosphere.
Waterloo Tea prides itself as Wales' first steampunk tearoom, exuding retrofuturistic vibes. Located in Cardiff’s historic Wyndham Arcade, the cafe’s design centers around an antique boiler rescued from the HMS Amethyst. Pipes, gauges, and strange contraptions fill the space where afternoon tea is served on tiered stands crafted from old printer parts. Beyond the decor, Waterloo Tea excels at expertly brewed coffee roasted on-site and homemade scones with clotted cream. With occasional evenings of live music, it’s a lively and inviting spot off the beaten path.
For coffee with a conscience, The Cambrian Roast Company is a must-visit. This ethical business employs and trains homeless, vulnerable, and marginalized people to roast and prepare coffee, providing skills and social connections. The cafe exudes earthy charm with exposed brick walls, dangling plants, and light wood furnishings. Try their signature Cambrian Espresso or sample ethical, sustainable coffees from around the world. Beyond amazing coffee, you’ll find paninis, salads, and sweets baked on-site daily. It's a great option for lunch or coffee with a feel-good vibe.
No quirky cafe tour is complete without a visit to The Deck on Dumballs Road. Here you’ll sip expertly prepared specialty coffees inside a bright red double-decker bus. Beyond daily brewed coffee, they serve up espressos, lattes, and creamy flat whites made with locally roasted beans. Take your caffeine fix up top on the open-air deck. With cheerful staff and reasonable prices, The Deck offers a uniquely British coffee experience. Kids will get a kick out of the bus decor, from vintage advertisements to faux windows with retro countryside scenes.