The ultimate Cambridge café guide

“Giveth the people their avocado toast with chilli flakes”, as the Lord so famously proclaimed

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The first thing you should learn when you come to Cambridge is that you need to learn to like coffee. As an innocent fresher I despised coffee. The most I could enjoy was one of those disgustingly sweet Starbucks hazelnut mochas with enough sugar in it to give you diabetes. Now, after two gruelling years of essays, a black Americano is my go to. However, you needn’t settle for horrendous  Sainsburys basics instant coffee – save that for those truly desperate essay crisis moments at 2am. It’s honestly like drinking caffeinated mud.

Cambridge is home to several amazing cafes, serving Instagram-worthy coffee, decadent cake and imaginative sandwiches (usually involving some form of halloumi, to which there can be no complaints whatsoever) – so be sure in your first term to step out and explore them.


The most Instagrammable coffee shop in the entirety of Cambridge. It’s always packed, with queues for tables on weekends. Ideal place to take your parents when they visit and can pay for you.

Your parents will get PSYCHED at all the duck egg blue tones in here

Perfect for:

Arts students to nip to after or between lectures – it’s on the way to the Sidgwick Site from the centre of town. Lots of people study in there, although it can be a little noisy. A very hungover and self-indulgent brunch that you will absolutely regret later. Great Bloody Marys too, strangely enough (hair of the dog and all that).

Not great for:

When you’re on a budget. The coffee and food are pretty nice, but the portions are small and it’s hideously expensive. Probably one for the beginning of term only, before you start to feel the pinch from your depleting overdraft.

Bould Brothers

Bould Brothers is a tiny little coffee shop right opposite the Round Church – sip on a perfect latte whilst looking at the oldest church in Cambridge.

Perfect for: Delicious coffee (their flat white is especially good) whilst running about town and eavesdropping on people’s conversations in the tiny shop.

Not great for: Sitting and working. If you’re looking for a quick ten minute sit down then by all means take a pew, but the shop itself is so small it is difficult to concentrate without getting engrossed in other peoples conversations – if you’re in the depths of an essay crisis and need to get shit done, this is maybe not for you.

UL Tea Room 

Undoubtedly not as picturesque as many of the other cafes in Cambridge, but you shouldn’t miss out on the UL tearoom. Most students think it is just there to grab a quick coffee or bar of chocolate during an intense study session, but it is actually a really lovely place to enjoy. At lunch time they serve food in a canteen style, that is actually really good quality and reasonable value, and they serve selections of sweet treats during the day

So the building isn’t all doom and gloom after all

Perfect for: A break from the UL, meeting friends for lunch, or even working during the afternoon if you are okay with background noise,  to escape the oppressive environment of the rest of the library.

Not great for: Intense study sessions or Instagram worthy food – there is always a bit of hustle-bustle of background noise, and it is a bit school-canteen like so not the ideal setting for your perfect photo.

Hot Numbers 

A bit further out from the centre of town (but only a ten-minute walk) Hot Numbers is a great little cafe. Just opposite the Engineering faculty, it serves great coffee, fantastic brunch, and panini’s that change each day, so you can always have something new!

Perfect for: Engineers (lucky location), or awkward first dates – it is just the right distance out of town that you won’t be seen by someone you know trying to navigate your way through tricky conversations, but it is still close enough that you can escape (with delicious coffee and panini in hand) if it really is going that badly.

Not great for: Coffee in a rush – Hot Numbers is a really lovely cafe inside and it is mainly worth it if you take the time to sit down and work there but it’s a bit too far out to justify going all that way to grab a coffee to go.

Urban Shed 

Whilst Urban Shed does do fantastic coffee, the best thing about this place is its sandwiches. Filled with imaginative fillings and plenty of vegetarian and vegan options too, this is the perfect cafe for everyone! The interior is a bit bizarre – filled with recycled furniture including aeroplane chairs, you can feel like the true millennial you are, wasting your money on flat whites and avocado toast without hope of getting a mortgage when you graduate.

Honestly, it is veggie and vegan heaven.

Perfect for: Taking your friend visiting you from another university if you want to show just how #edgy you have become at Cambridge.

Not great for: Every day eating. The prices have recently gone up so the sandwiches are a bit more pricey than they used to be – they are still worth it and Urban Shed hare sure to always offer you student discount, but eating there every day may indeed break the bank.


Their jacket potatoes are a gift from the gods when you are trying to recover from a hangover. When you are seriously regretting that last, overpriced VK from Cindies, you know that the staff at Tatties won’t judge you as you inhale your potato like an absolute animal.

One giant jacket potato later and I was human again

Perfect for: If you are on a walk of shame back to college, hungover and feeling disgusting, but also desperately starving. Everyone at Tatties has seen all Cambridge students in various states of shameful disarray – trust me, they can handle it.

Not great for: Grandparents. Although Tatties seems like a perfect place to take your grandad when he visits for a lovely fry up, that fry-up is decidedly less lovely when a group of guys sits on the table behind you and discusses in excruciating depth their sexual proclivities from the previous night.

Although these are all varying in price, they are all completely worth blowing that tasty lump sum of money student finance has deposited in your account – trust me,  you will be dreaming Instagram worthy food when you are living off baked beans at the end of term.