Top 10 Coffee Shops Outside London, 2012

24 March 2012

London has some terrific coffee shops. You don’t have to look far for someone-or-other’s top 10.

But, these days, the regions are well-represented with excellent indie cafés, regardless of what some London coffee-heads might have you believe. They might be more spread out, but our top ten stack up alongside the best of the capital.

As always, I’ve only included places that I’ve visited. By reputation, I’m aware of places in Cambridge, Cornwall, Lancashire and elsewhere that may well have appeared here had I had chance to visit. And, as always, it’s not just about brilliant coffee but also about friendliness and character.

Cosy Coffee Shops has a strong regional interest and it’s only fitting that our latest annual top ten honours the nation’s best regional coffee shops.

So, for the first time (so far as I’m aware), here is a list of regional Britain’s top ten coffee shops.

  1. The Perky Peacock, York
    The Perky Peacock, York
    As you walk up the ancient stone steps to the tiny medieval bridge tower, you can’t help but feel that The Perky Peacock may just be the most characterful coffee shop in England. Combine that with excellent coffee (not the best in this list, but excellent), and it’s got the combination of ingredients to sneak it top of this list.Read more…
  2. Coffee Aroma, Lincoln
    Coffee Aroma, Lincoln
    Top notch coffee, great staff, terrific premises… terrific everything. Even the crumble is good. It’s hard to fault Richard “Pappa” Teasdale’s Coffee Aroma.Read more…
  3. The Window, Norwich
    The Window, Norwich
    You’d just never get this sort of place in London. Teeny weeny, but soulful, joyful and run by the best female barista in the UK (according to the 2011 UK Barista Championships).Read more…
  4. Laynes Espresso, Leeds
    Laynes Espresso, Leeds
    Small but perfectly formed, Laynes is bursting with passion and pride. The coffee is as good as it gets.Read more…
  5. 6/8 Kafé, Birmingham
    6/8 Kafé, Birmingham
    Six Eight may be surrounded by chains but it holds its head high as a superb indie coffee shop. The best coffee shop in Birmingham, probably.Read more…
  6. Bold Street, Liverpool
    Bold Street Coffee, Liverpool
    Swish and pale it may be, but Bold Street Coffee will warm the cockles of your heart. Liverpool’s much-needed artisan coffee shop.Read more…
  7. Opposite, Leeds
    Opposite, Leeds
    Overrun with students but serving superb coffee, and with a second, brilliant stall in Leeds city centre. Opposite is a great spot for gorgeous coffee made by hugely talented baristas. As good as any coffee in London.Read more…
  8. Kilimanjaro, Edinburgh
    Kilimanjaro Coffee, Edinburgh
    Perhaps unfairly, this is Scotland’s only representative in the top 10, simply due to the fact that I don’t visit Scotland nearly as much as I’d like to. Like other options in Edinburgh, Kilimanjaro is a place for tremendous coffee and friendly service.Read more…
  9. Little Red Roaster, Norwich
    Little Red Roaster, Norwich
    A marvelous coffee shop, the only one in this list that roasts its own beans.Read more…
  10. Café Harlequin, York
    Café Harlequin, York
    It was almost be rude not to include magnificent Harlequin in this list, serving, as it does, some of the best coffee in the country.Read more…


Honourable mentions: Workhouse Coffee in Reading, Roasters Coffee Co in Scarborough, McKechnies in Stratford-upon-Avon, Leoni in Malton, Stray’s in Newark and Boston Tea Party in Bristol and Bath.

Date published: 24 March 2012.

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  • Jane Hicks 23 November 2013 at 8:38 am

    I’ve just visited Sophie’s Coffee Shop in Lymington, Hampshire. A great little independent on the cobbled Quay, with trained baristas who didn’t mind spending time with me talking about coffee.

    They know their stuff, and have a nice menu: homemade cakes, and tasty sandwiches on sourdough / paninis.

    Well worth a visit, and deserving of a mention.