I don’t think there is anything better than finding a quaint café in Cambridge and watching the world go by or reading a book with a great cup of coffee in hand.
In my opinion, Cambridge cafés can be one of the highlights of a visit to this historic university city.
In this city of quaint alleys, ancient buildings and riverside spots, you’ll find all kinds of independent cafés to dip into between browsing in the shops or taking in the sights.
I have spent a lot of time in Cambridge over the years, so I have plenty of experience seeking out the best Cambridge cafés. So if you want to find a fine spot for a fill-you-up brunch, a lunch date or simply the best coffee in the city, my guide is for you.
From places that specialise in pick-me-up juices and healthy salads to those serving doorstop toasties (yes please!) or a vegan full English, here is my pick of the best cafés in Cambridge – featuring both my own personal favourites and recommendations from locals.
Author Bio: Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.
Address: Trumpington Street, Bridge Street and Clifton Road
Best for: Iconic Chelsea buns
I honestly don’t think you can visit Cambridge without popping into Fitzbillies!
In fact the trio of cafés is only part of the Fitzbillies business, as they deliver gift boxes and hampers all over the UK.
It’s all about brunch during the day, and bloody marys, bellinis and elderflower G&Ts are available to wash it all down with, as well as a great cup of coffee if that’s what you’re after.
After eggs florentine, shakshuka and full-on breakfasts are done for the day, I love that the attention turns to afternoon tea.
If you’re not so keen on finger sandwiches and scones, you can scoff an ice cream sundae, a slice of layer cake or a signature Chelsea bun instead.
2. Bould Brothers
Address: 16 Round Church Street, CB5 8AD and 88 Regent St., CB2 1DP
Best for: Top-drawer coffee
Split over two levels, this welcoming café serves some of the best coffee in Cambridge and is conveniently located between the train station and city centre.
If you can’t resist freshly-baked goodies and the smell of good coffee then I think it’s impossible to pass by Bould Brothers without popping in.
Expertly blended drinks are where it’s at, and the mocha served here contains real Belgian chocolate as well as high quality coffee. In fact, the coffee is so good that this is one of the most popular spots with locals.
At Regent St, expect a modern, industrial and spacious interior. While the Round Church Street branch is a much smaller and cosier affair – and my personal favourite.
Customers have a choice between organic cow’s, soy and oat milk, water that’s been filtered and mineralised, and baristas with six months’ training behind them.
It’s no wonder the coffee tastes so good!
3. Café Blue Sage
Address: 198 Mill Road, Cambridge CB1 3NF
Best for: Authentic Turkish fare
It’s worth venturing a little way from the city centre to visit this Cambridge café. Trust me when I say that this eatery may be small in size, but it’s big on flavour.
Locals and tourists alike flock here for fresh juices, home baked pastries and filling Mediterranean, Turkish and Middle Eastern fare.
The bright exterior of Café Blue Sage means you cannot miss this place. I always feel as if I’ve been transported to another place after stepping inside.
My favourite menu highlights include the falafel, mezze and baklava – all washed down with potent Turkish coffee.
I also highly recommend Café Blue Sage as one of the best places for brunch in Cambridge.
4. Espresso Lane
Address: 1 Botolph Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RD
Best for: University vibes
Espresso Lane is tucked away among some of the most impressive academic buildings in Cambridge. So don’t blink or you might miss it!
Located on Botolph Lane near Pembroke and Trumpington Streets, it’s the perfect pitstop for students, academics and visitors.
Espresso Lane may be small, but it’s beautifully formed. The owners love their city and are committed to every single thing that comes out of the kitchen being as delicious as possible.
If you’re feeling peckish, the menu features the likes of ciabatta, baguettes, and home-cooked specials. I also love that there are plenty of vegan and gluten-free options too.
I can assure you that top quality coffee is of course de rigueur and there are seven types to choose from, plus a selection of tea and other soft drinks.
5. Urban Larder
Address: 9 The Broadway, Cambridge CB1 3AH
Best for: Oozing toasties
Situated on The Broadway, Urban Larder effortlessly combines slick city looks with a welcoming, countryfied feel.
I’d recommend heading to this Cambridge café when you need a light or more hearty breakfast, or when nothing but a crisp salad or toastie oozing melted cheese will do (which is most days for me to be honest).
The coffee’s pretty awesome too.
On the menu is homemade granola and banana bread, dairy-free toasties made with pulled jackfruit and vegan cheese, falafel, cheese and marmite rolls or salad boxes topped with chorizo, feta or falafel.
Drinks-wise you can sample a hot dirty chai or a chilled Vietnamese iced drink. Or I’d suggest opting for one of the milkshakes in five yummy flavours.
Address: 2 Quayside, Cambridge CB5 8AB
Best for: Riverside spot
The address immediately alerts you to one of Foy‘s key selling points: this is the pick of the coffee shops in Cambridge for those who love being by the water.
It’s right by the Cam, so you can watch people punting past as you sip, munch and unwind – for that reason, it’s one of my favourite cafés in Cambridge.
Foy is run by a Cambridge-born brother-and-sister team who appreciate great food and wine, as well as the art of conversation.
Cambridge Wine Merchants supply the wines, and Foy also serves cocktails, coffee, small plates, thick soups and chunky toasties.
7. The Locker café
Address: 54 King Street, Cambridge CB1 1LN
Best for: Artisan pottery
Any art fan seeking the best cafés in Cambridge can stop right here at The Locker. This family-owned enterprise is known for its supply of signature handmade crockery plus its programme of musical and cultural events.
A father-and-son team are at the helm here and the latter honed his craft in Melbourne’s finest coffee shops.
Brunch is a biggie here, with options like grilled mushrooms with smashed avocado on sourdough, a dry cured bacon bap or organic muesli served until 3pm daily.
I’d definitely recommend checking out any upcoming events they have on, as it’s always a great atmosphere.
8. Signorelli’s Deli
Address: 17 Burleigh Street, Cambridge CB1 1DG
Best for: Aperitivo hour
Signorelli’s Deli is perfectly placed for weary shoppers seeking a break from picking up high street bargains.
As well as being a top Cambridge café, Signorelli’s is also a bakery, a wine merchant’s and an Italian-style delicatessen – all of my favourite things in one!
There’s a firm focus on Italian-style fare, but some Mediterranean favourites like Green salad or veggie couscous also make the menu.
Otherwise, pick between pizzas, pasta, focaccia sandwiches and more. Save space for dessert, or visit at aperitivo time for a sharing board washed down with cocktails.
Plus, being of Italian origin, you can trust me when I say that the coffee is top tier!
Address: Bene’t Street, Fitzroy Street or Peas Hill
Best for: Sicilian cuisine
With three branches across the city, Aromi is firmly established on the local foodie scene. Whichever you visit, the Aromi cafés aim to serve up the finest Sicilian fare in the heart of Cambridge.
Including artisan baked goods, antipasti, sourdough pizza, gelato, cakes and of course Italian coffee.
The pizza-makers here love to show off, so expect a lively atmosphere and more than a touch of theatre.
Take it from me, just don’t refer to their homemade gelato as ice cream – but do make sure you try some during your visit!
10. Relevant Record Café
Address: 260 Mill Road, Cambridge CB1 3NF
Best for: Vinyl lovers
Relevant Record on Mill Road isn’t just a café – it’s also a record shop. Forget downloads, cassettes or even CDs, though, as here it’s all about the vinyl. It’s also a popular live music venue in Cambridge.
I’d recommend heading upstairs if you want to settle in with a coffee after browsing the vinyl selection – or are ready to bypass the music altogether.
Freshly baked cakes, salads and savoury bakes await between 9am and 5pm on every day of the week.
11. Café at Abantu
Address: 42 Hobson Street, Cambridge CB1 1NL
Best for: Savoury bakes
This family-run café offers fairtrade coffee, freshly baked cakes and a warm welcome in the heart of Cambridge.
There’s also a superb selection of appealing loose-left teas at Abantu – as a big tea drinker myself, it’s one of the key appeals of this spot for me.
Plus there’s an appetising menu comprising hot meals, quiches, toasties, savoury tarts, salads and sausage rolls.
Brunch is served until 2pm at weekends here and options range from granola with Greek yoghurt or porridge with maple syrup to vegan or meat-based cooked breakfasts.
In the afternoon, top picks include frittata, mushroom stroganoff, loaded nachos or the veggie burger stack.
12. Indigo Café
Address: 8 St Edward’s Passage, Cambridge CB2 3PJ
Best for: Value for money
Tucked away on a tiny Cambridge thoroughfare is Indigo, a small independent café in the city centre.
Locals love this place for its happy atmosphere and crowd-pleasing soundtrack as well as the food and coffee.
Indigo ticks so many boxes that visitors cannot fail to be impressed. The coffee is ethically sourced, the food is yummy and freshly prepared, the staff are friendly, and prices are low.
Plus, the menu includes gluten-free and vegan options to cater for everyone, which I always appreciate. What more could you ask for?
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13. Chill #2
Address: 2 Station Square, Cambridge CB1 2GA
Best for: Live music
The location of Chill #2 is ideal for hungry travellers, as the café can be found within the Ibis hotel at Cambridge station.
You can also drop in when you fancy a drink of something stronger, as there are wines, gins and craft beers served here.
Chill #2 is also one of the university city’s best live music venues by night, and serves artisan coffee by day.
Foodie events devoted to specific cuisines are also a speciality. Recent options have included Greek, burger and Brazilian nights – I’d definitely recommend attending one of these nights if you can!
14. Courtyard café at the Fitzwilliam Museum
Address: Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RB
Best for: Art fans
In my opinion, one of the best things to do in Cambridge is to visit the Fitzwilliam Museum. But you’ll find more than a fine art and antiquities collection at the Fitzwilliam.
The museum is also home to the Courtyard café, an eatery positioned in a covered patio area within the building.
I’d recommend calling in here for a warming hot drink or refreshingly chilled beverage after perusing the art collection. Or pop in to pick up a gift at the same time from the shop.
On the menu are mouthwatering salads, sandwiches, savoury tarts, pastries and cakes, plus of course great coffee.
15. Hot Numbers
Address: Gwydir Street, Trumpington Street or Dunsbridge Turnpike
Best for: A roastery
Hot Numbers in Cambridge is more than just a café. As well as outlets on Trumpington and Gwydir Streets, there is also a coffee roastery on Dunsbridge Turnpike in Shepreth.
So you can expect to find a place that’s serious about coffee, whichever one you call at.
Well-behaved pets are welcome here and there are regular pizza nights for evening dining. It’s a favourite hangout among academic types and cyclists.
I love that the changing art collections on the walls provide stimulation for culture vultures too.
Address: 253 Chesterton Road, Cambridge CB4 1BG
Best for: Healthy drinks
Stir is a multi-tasking Cambridge destination. This one has a firmly established bakery delivery business in the area as well as the café on Chesterton Road.
In fact the bakery is right next door, so I’d recommend dropping in for more goodies to take away after feasting and sipping to your heart’s content at the café.
Stand-out options on the menu range from coconut porridge or the almost bostock brioche dish served for breakfast to halloumi ‘schrooms, a buddha bowl or the weekend stir shakshuka special for brunch.
Healthy juices, smoothies and lattes are a speciality here too, made with ingredients such as hemp, turmeric, spinach, ginger and matcha.
17. Michaelhouse café
Address: St Michael’s Church, Trinity St, Cambridge CB2 1SU
Best for: Cake lovers
In a city with a park known as Christ’s Pieces, perhaps it shouldn’t be unexpected to find a café within a church.
But I think it’s such a pleasant surprise, nonetheless. Though the space has been converted, Michaelhouse still is the community centre and mediaeval chapel for Great St Mary’s Church.
So soaring arches are a given: what about the menu? Cakes are a key feature here. Up to 20 types are offered daily – all the handiwork of the on-site patisserie chef.
The rest of the menu is locally sourced where possible too, with cheese, eggs, salmon, berries, meats and even beer all coming from suppliers based nearby.
Address: 20 Bridge Street, Cambridge CB2 1UF
Best for: Healthy juices
In a city with over 25 bridges, it’s hardly a surprise to find a café with such a name as Bridges.
It’s located on the corner of Bridges Street and Portugal Place too, and I love the healthy, homemade fare that’s all freshly prepared on the premises here.
Bridges café has been operating from this site since 1997, and is renowned in the area for its range of fresh, nourishing juices.
It’s not all about low-fat food though. The range of tempting cakes and bakes is capable of soothing anyone’s sweet tooth.
While the pies are good enough to warrant handwritten declarations of thanks!
A visit to this historic city would not be complete without soaking up the café culture and visiting some of the best coffee shops and cafés in Cambridge.
Do you have any favourites or recommendations of Cambridge cafés? Let me know in the comments!
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