Cambridge Coffee Guide
The definitive guide to the best coffees in Cambridge, for any occasion.
As all the incoming freshers will soon learn (and as all returning Cambridge students know), coffee is your friend.
Whether you have an all-night essay crisis/cram session, a much-needed gossip debrief after Wednesday cindies, a first/last date or a check-in with your concerned parents, the Tab have you covered with our guide to where to get that much needed caffeine shot.
Where to go if… you’re picky about your coffee
If you’ve ever used the word ‘leguminous’ to describe a roast, if instant coffee is your kryptonite or if you only accept craft-roasted beans (whatever that means), then Hot Numbers is the place for you. It’s location slightly far away from the centre of town only adds to its allure – you can complain about the distance to demonstrate the lengths you’ll go to for good coffee, without actually having to strain too far out of the bubble.
Where to go if… you’re a basic b***h
If you have to Instagram at least one coffee a day (#coffeeshoptabletop #vscocam #justcambridgethings) and are really into latte art, then look no further than Sticky Beaks. The realm of yummy mummies and Ottolenghi-like salad recipes, this haven on King Street will help you create an illusion of what Cambridge should be for your legions of followers.
Where to go if… you want to be a hipster
Even the name of the Old Bicycle Shop is hipster, as is its (almost certainly made up) history: claimed to have been the oldest bicycle shop in England, this site is rumoured to have been where Darwin bought his bicycle while a Cambridge student. Now instead of selling bikes, they sell coffee and a great brunch (especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan).
Where to go if… you’re already a hipster
Tucked out of the way near Jesus, the Urban Shed is so hipster it hurts. Essentially a curiosity shop that also happens to sell coffee and a huge selection of sandwiches, it’s a relatively-hidden gem in the Cambridge coffee scene. You can just sit back in an old airline seat and admire the memorabilia while you sip on your espresso and bask in your own edginess.
Where to go if… you found yourself on your gap yah
The Indigo Cafe manages to be both extremely central and quite well hidden, with an entrance down a small passageway off of King’s Parade. Perfect for you if you wear baggy ‘gap yah’ trousers, and love a good man bun. Niche enough to keep your reputation alive, but not so niche that you’re actually going out on a limb, it is the leather necklace of coffee shops, a way to signal that you are cool without being too obvious.
Where to go if… your parents are in town
The quintessential Cambridge spot for tourists and parents who are checking in to make sure you’re alive/haven’t contracted scurvy, Fitzbillies is everything it promises to be. It’s picturesque, serves a good Chelsea bun and makes a decent, Instagrammable coffee. All in all, basic but dependable.
Where to go if… you’re planning a first date
The clue is in the name: Afternoon Tease is just playful and interesting enough without revealing too much about your personality. It’s relaxed, conveniently located and serves delicious cakes that are perfect for sharing.
Where to go if… you’re planning a last date
The Aristo Cafe serves coffee to-go (perfect for quick conversations) and offers a huge variety of excuses to run away after dealing the parting blow – these include ‘I have a lecture in Sidgwick/Mill Lane’, ‘I’m meeting someone in Peterhouse/Pembroke/Corpus’ and even the classic ‘Run, quick – Queens’ is sinking!’.
Where to go if… you want to hide
Far away from town in Grantchester, The Orchard Tea Garden is beautiful, calming and, crucially, far away from the stresses of Cambridge life. It’s the perfect retreat if you want to get away from a town where you can’t walk five minutes without running into someone and regain some anonymity.
Where to go if… you want to be seen
With its long queues and large glass windows looking out onto one of the busier Cambridge intersections, Aromi is perfect for those who want to be seen enjoying what is an undeniably great selection of quick Italian food. Perfect for gazing out of the window at the people who are gazing in at you.
Now if you’ll excuse me, these articles are hard work and I need a coffee.