This image: Charlotte Griffiths
Make the daily grind something to savour with a trip to one of Cambridge’s finest caffeine emporiums
A Cambridge classic, Fitzbillies has been doing its thing since 1921. Famously saved from closure by food writer Tim Hayward in 2011, it’s gone from strength to strength since then and you can always guarantee a perfect cup of Joe. Whether at the Bridge Street or original Trumpington Street branch, there’s only one partner for a Fitzbillies coffee, and that is of course a syrupy, swirly Chelsea bun.
Serving a side of town which was badly in need of a great little place to grab a good coffee, Stir quickly established itself as a favourite haunt for the Chesterton neighbourhood when it opened a few years back. The primary espresso is from Bury St Edmund’s Butterworth & Son, plus they also rotate single origin blends as filter coffees. Grab some beans (ground to your spec) to go, and be sure to stop into the Stir bakery next door for a treat while you’re there.
Espresso Library is big on speciality coffee: where it comes from, how they prepare it (using their impressive, custom-built Slayer machine) and, most importantly, how it tastes. One of the cafes at the forefront of Cambridge’s coffee scene, they keep it local with their roaster The Coffee Officina, just the other side of the Cambridgeshire border in Essex. There is also a delectable range of seasonal single origin filter coffees available at the cafe, and you can buy bags to recreate the magic at home, too, either in bean form or ground. That’s before we even get to EL’s tempting food menu, which serves up nutritious and indulgent in just the right measure.
A charming little slice of Italy, Limoncello serves up gorgeous fresh pesto, juicy olives, and great antipasti and cheeses. The punchy Italian coffee is well worth a try, especially when paired with a slice of bouncy panettone or bite of biscotti. Take it outside and enjoy while watching Mill Road go by…
Well known for its botanical cocktails and uber instagrammable décor – especially the new plant-fIlled roof terrace)- Novi also take their coffee seriously. Using local suppliers Frank and Earnest, who roast their beans down the road in Bury St Edmunds, Honduras Altos De Erapuca is the current house espresso, a medium roasted beauty with chocolatey notes and a slight caramel sweetness. They also offer draught nitro cold brew for an icy cool coffee treat, plus lots of scrummy cakes to have on the side.
An essential stop-off on the city’s coffee trail, Hot Numbers revolutionised coffee drinking in the city when it opened on Gwydir Street in 2011. Fast forward to today and owner Simon and his team have expanded the original branch, opened a second on Trumpington Street and made the entire city fall for their next-level java.
Perfect coffee is a science at Hot Numbers, with owner Simon utilising his mechanical engineering background to endlessly innovate and hone every single aspect of the coffee-making process. Having set up his own roastery at Stapleford Granary, he’s free to tinker with temperatures, timings and airflow to his heart’s content, as well as hosting regular ‘cupping’ sessions to test new brews on the public, all to bring us the best coffee in town. That’s dedication! Top tip is to try the creamy, super smooth nitro iced coffee, a recent-ish addition to the ever-expanding coffee menu.
Rural Coffee Project
A roaming cafe, Rural Coffee Project serve coffee from their shiny blue Land Rover 127, an ex-military vehicle affectionately known as Daisy. Their coffee is from a local micro-roastery called Sidewalk, who’ve helped them develop their own unique blend of Brazilian Arabica and Vietnamese Robusta, though you’ll sometimes see appearances from Bury St Edmunds-based Frank and Earnest, too. Track them down at foodPark and other events around the city, or hire them for your own event!
First-rate coffee is a source of pride at this friendly Mill Road hangout, which serves a four-bean blend roast by Butterworth & Son over in Bury St Edmunds (Caffeine Magazine Micro Roastery Espresso winner). For a treat that takes some beating, team your cup with one of the cafe’s dreamy doughnuts, currently available on Thursdays.
The newest cafe on our list, this hip, Round Church Street hangout is run by Max and Alex Bould, a pair of brothers with a combined ten years’ worth of experience in coffee, and a passion for producing the perfect brew. Their establishment may only have been open since January this year, but it’s already beaten off stiff competition to become a city centre favourite. swing by for stunningly good coffees, served in a cool setting.
As well as being a cosy little haven of delightful sweet treats, Tom’s Cakes on Mill Road also serves up some of the tastiest coffee in the city. Their supplier is the famous Monmouth Coffee Company – widely regarded as one of the country’s leading roasters – who also train Tom’s baristas, which explains why, whether yours is a flat white, straight-up espresso, latte or cappuccino, you’re guaranteed a superior fix.