Top 5 Cambridge coffee shops, according to a Cambridge Coffee Connoisseur

Who will be crowned the queen of the Cambridge coffee scene?

Whilst we may be in lockdown and away from the Bubble, if you’re a coffee addict, (like me), you’ve probably been dreaming of all those lattes, cappuccinos and espressos that Cambridge has to offer. If you’re lucky enough NOT to be a finalist, (unlike me), then you’ll *hopefully* be able to experience the taste of these heavenly coffees come October!

I stress, *hopefully*. With so many small businesses going bust, it’s more important than ever to do our bit to try to save our small, independent coffee shops. If you want to taste these caffeine wonders post-lockdown, I’ve included how you can help each individual, specific coffee shop under their sections!

So, if throwing money away at several artisan coffees a day for four years doesn’t make me a coffee connoisseur and legitimise this caffeine ranking, then I really don’t know what will. So, here’s the ranking of Cambridge’s Top 5 Coffee Heavens, according to Cambridge’s Coffee Connoisseur!

5. Espresso Library

I love you a-LATTE! A rich, milky coffee, with the perfect amount of froth, Espresso Library’s lattes are one of the best I have tried. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, their dirty chai latte is certainly worth a (espresso) shot! Nowadays, most chai lattes are made with syrup (a big no no) or powder (delicious), but Espresso Library serve theirs with a traditional tea bag and milk, creating a truly authentic experience. This café is a true melting pot – a fusion cycling cafe, art gallery, coffee shop, study space and bar, it brings together the local Cambridge community, meaning you never know who you will bump into! In true Cambridge fashion, bicycles hang from the ceiling- reflecting co-owner John’s passion for road cycling! It really is an innovative space, great for getting your creative juices flowing as you sip on their artisan coffee!

Hop on over to Espresso Library’s website to purchase Keep Cups, Cycling Stash and discounted vouchers to use post-Lockdown.

4. Stir

Located on Chesterton Road, Stir is basically ‘Girton’-distance for the average Cambridge student. However, much like Girton’s swimming pool, it *is* worth the trek. Their coffee sits in the middle of the coffee strength scale- half way between Hot Numbers’ strong blend and Bould Brothers’ velvety treasure… perfect for Goldilocks! Their milk is steamed at just the right temperature – between 58 and 62 degrees. Beans are from Bury St. Edmund’s Roastery, Butterworth & Son. Currently in store, their Brazil blend: a yellow catuai variety which has notes of creamy cocoa with hints of macadamia- a great coffee as we transition from winter to spring.

If you’re still in Cambridge, Stir are delivering their artisan breads, Vegan flapjacks and Espresso Beans to central postcodes.

3. Hot Numbers

Being ethical, socially responsible and hand-roasted means that Hot Numbers’ coffee is a true coffee lover’s paradise. Bustling students studying away to jazz tunes, catching up over brunch or getting their daily dose of caffeine, Hot Numbers is Cambridge’s place to be. They have longer, larger tables which are great for group study sessions, as well as smaller, more intimate, circular tables which make for a great brunch date. Recovering from an all-nighter and need that morning after caffeine kick? Hot Numbers should be your coffee shop of choice! Their coffee is like no other; it has a strong, sharp and distinct taste. Confusingly, you won’t see “latte”, “cappuccino” or “flat white” plastered on Hot Numbers’ menus. Choose from a 3Oz, 6Oz, 8Oz, or 10Oz cup size and then decide whether you prefer it strong and black or lightened with steamed milk! Pictured is their Bosques de San Francisco Blend. It has contrasting notes of smooth salted caramel & ripe red plum. The caramel is reminiscent of a winter’s day, whilst the ripe red plum brings this wintery blend back into the present, Spring (-ish) weather! It’s the perfect coffee as we transition from the winter months to spring time.

Purchase Kandula Teas (the Strawberry Hibiscus is divine!), brewing essentials (your own aero press), or their Breakfast Wine Coffee Beans (their best seller, with chocolate and nutty notes) from the Hot Numbers website.

2. The Roguery

Alexa, define Roguery: “acts of playful mischief”. The Roguery’s interior epitomises rogueness; caged railings are juxtaposed against wooden bar tables, and hanging green plants are littered throughout this edgy space. A barbers or a cafe? The Roguery is hidden away and nestled between the Hilton and John Lewis, opposite Revs, so is easily missed. Primarily a barbers, The Roguery has an adjoining cafe which is the perfect place to study or catch up over coffee or a slice of cake following your trim. Their Brazilian Mata Do Salgado blend is a must try – if you’re still in the Christmas spirit and are craving a wintery blend, then this is the p-e-r-f-e-c-t blend for you!

1. Bould Brothers

They say all good things come in small packages and Bould Brothers coffee is certainly a pot of gold bursting with flavour! Smooth, velvety and of a light, creamy consistency, Bould Brothers’ blend has featured in Vogue, so, naturally, it *must* be the crème de la creme. Cambridge’s Coffee Connoisseur has now cashed in, and confirmed the rumours: it may even be England’s, (forget Cambridge’s) best coffee. Now that’s a BOULD claim. (Try their signature ‘Magic’ for the equivalent of 3 caffeine kicks!)

If you’ve just been shredded to bits after a supervision, lost a rugby match, or been dumped…. simply pop to Bould (near the Round Church, and on Regent Street) because the staff never fail to put a smile on your face. The quaint little cafe creates an oasis of calm and tranquillity amidst Cambridge’s bustling student scene. But don’t be fooled – their first cafe is tucked away just behind St John’s and you’ll often see a long coffee queue especially before students’ dreaded 9ams. But there’s a reason it’s so popular – try it and you’ll see! You won’t regret it (but your bank account may!) If you’re a regular, make sure to download the ‘Magic Stamp’ app to collect points and your seventh coffee is on the house, so you can enjoy one guilt-free…

Max and Alex, *the* Bould Brothers, have launched a Crowdfunding initiative to save their coffee heaven from extinction. Check out their website to see how you can help, and whilst you’re over there, purchase Bould Bros gift cards to use in store post-lockdown – or, if you can’t wait ’til then, stock up on their House Coffee & Guest Coffee (and then, once you’ve received it in the post, watch their YouTube videos on how you can brew better coffee at home!)

So that’s it: a SHOT-list of Cambridge’s best coffees. Now, let me get back to my essay as I sip on my not-so-artisan-homemade-instant coffee & dream of a triple-shot Bould Brothers Magic…

All photos are the author’s own.