The UK drinks approximately 95 million cups of coffee every single day, according to the British Coffee Association. In a typical year, the BCA estimates that 80% of people who visit coffee shops do so at least once a week, while 16% make daily visits to their favourite coffee spot. Though we may be thought of as a nation of tea drinkers, it’s fair to say that coffee has stolen the spotlight in recent years.
But where do you need to go to get the UK’s best cup of coffee? Which towns and cities offer the greatest variety of choice for any keen coffee aficionado?
Here at Blue Coffee Box, we believe that a great cup of coffee should never be hard to find. And while we’re sure we’ve taken care of your at-home coffee needs with our coffee subscription service, our guide to the UK’s top coffee hotspots is here to help you find a fantastic cup of coffee wherever in the UK you are.
As well as the best cities and regions for coffee lovers, we’ve included an up-to-date list of the most highly-rated coffee shops in the UK. To make the cut, coffee shops must have a 5/5 rating on Tripadvisor, and those that do were ordered based on what % of all their glowing reviews were the full five stars.
The Top 10 Cities & Regions for Coffee Lovers
With “staycations” now the flavour of the month, which parts of the UK make the best holiday spots for the nation’s coffee lovers? We looked at the overall number of coffee shops on offer, alongside the number of independent roasters in each region. Now, the results are in.
|Area||Number of Coffee Shops||Number of Roasters||Coffee Shops in UK Top 15||Overall Rank|
|The Lake District||105||9||1||10|
10th: The Lake District
With 105 coffee shops and nine roasters at the time of writing, finding a great cup of coffee isn’t hard in the beautiful Lake District. Many of the cafes on offer throughout the region have full 5/5 ratings on TripAdvisor, so you’re never far from a top-rated spot no matter which part of the Lake District you’re in.
In fact, one of the UK’s top 10 coffee shops is in the Lake District: Dr Brew’s in Bowness-on-Windermere. You can find out more about that hidden gem further down this page.
Belfast has tonnes of independent coffee shops to choose from, among an estimated 106 total choices, but firm favourites in this city include Kaffe O, Established Coffee and Harlem Cafe. At Established Coffee you can choose from different daily bean specials, while Kaffo O brings you beans roasted in Copenhagen in-keeping with their Nordic theme.
If you’re heading to the Titanic Quarter during your time in Belfast, make a beeline for The Dock Cafe, where you can enjoy a top-class coffee set among an impressive array of dock memorabilia.
As well as being home to the two highest-rated coffee shops in the UK at the time of writing, Cardiff also happens to have 14 independent coffee roasters and over 100 coffee shops in total. The Welsh capital has previously been described as a ‘caffeine-lover’s paradise’, and cements its place in the UK’s top 10 thanks to the wide array of options available.
While you’re there, check out Brodies Coffee Co and Bigmoose Coffee Company; you can find out more about these national favourites below!
With an incredible 23 coffee roasters in the area, Leeds actually makes it into position four when you’re looking purely at places in the UK with the most independent roasters on offer. The addition of 106 places to buy a cup of coffee wasn’t quite enough to push this city to the top of the charts, but any Leeds local will know you can hardly move for sterling roasts in this city.
Leeds is a particularly good spot for dairy-free and vegan coffee consumers, with Sift Cafe & Bakery and Flamingos Coffee House rated particularly highly for both ‘regular’ and vegan options alike.
Liverpool may have narrowly missed out on a top-five position, but that’s not to say there aren’t plenty of good coffee shops to choose from if you’re staying in the area and in need of a caffeine fix.
We’ve previously brought our subscribers coffee from two Liverpool coffee roasters, Neighbourhood Coffee Roasters and Crosby Coffee, both of whom serve speciality coffee on site as well as selling lovingly roasted beans to the masses. Check out Lovelocks if you’re in the area too.
Bristol’s small-but-mighty Crepe & Coffee Cabin is rated as one of the UK’s best places to go for a cup of joe, outranking the other 114 places to buy coffee in Bristol by a fair way.
Like Leeds, this hipster city caters well for anyone with dietary requirements, with East Village and Vx Bristol serving particularly good dairy-free lattes and flat whites. For something a little different, try the lavender iced latte now being dished up at East Village – an unusual but enjoyable crowd-pleaser.
With over 200 coffee shops and cafes on offer, Edinburgh is only beaten by London for sheer volume of coffee drinking establishments. With 17 roasters this is also a city spoiled for choice in locally-roasted beans, though Glasgow and Manchester sneak into the prime positions with 25 and 31 roasters apiece.
Joint 2nd: Glasgow & Manchester
We weren’t able to separate these two in the runnings, with each scoring evenly when combining shop and roastery choice scores, and no clear victor in terms of either overall coffee shop ratings, or overall roastery gradings. Glasgow and Manchester are both excellent choices for coffee lovers on a UK holiday, with each offering beans and brews for every taste.
For a unique experience in Manchester, take a trip to Grindsmith’s speciality coffee pod, or their bricks-and-mortar venue at Media City, where the Grindsmith team are always on a mission to create the perfect coffee experience. In Glasgow, visitors are raving about Willow Grove: not for novelty or complex creations, but for their ability to get classic coffees (and accompanying cakes) absolutely spot on.
Home to an incredible 1,495 coffee shops at the time of writing, and at least 105 independent coffee roasters, it’s no surprise that England’s capital city comes out on top as the prime destination for a coffee-centric holiday in the UK.
While individual coffee shops in London only make it into the top 15 rather than the top 10, bear in mind that the UK is home to thousands upon thousands of coffee shops. The top-rated venues in London, Drury 188-189 and Kennington Lane Coffee, are not only the cream of the city’s substantial crop, they remain head and shoulders above most of what the UK has to offer. If you’re visiting the Big Smoke any time soon, make a beeline for these exquisite caffeine-slinging establishments.
The UK’s Top 10 Coffee Shops
It’s not surprising that London has the largest number of coffee shops of any UK city, given that it is the largest city of the lot: but it might have surprised you to know that none of them made it into the top 10 coffee shops overall.
When researching the top UK coffee shops with 5/5 TripAdvisor ratings, ranked in order of who has the highest % of full-marks reviews at the time of writing, the results are a much more varied picture:
|Brodie’s Coffee Co||Cardiff||1st|
|Bigmoose Coffee Company||Cardiff||2nd|
|Dr Brews Coffee & Blues||Lake District||3rd|
|Freshwater Coffee House||Isle of Wight||4th|
|Rhubarb & Mustard||Plymouth||6th|
|The Crepe & Coffee Cabin||Bristol||8th|
1. Brodie’s Coffee Co, Cardiff
It isn’t just the coffee on offer at Brodie’s Coffee Co that gets described as “heavenly” and “amazing” – this Cardiff venue is also known for providing excellent customer service, and truly delicious cakes. At the time of writing, 98% of their reviews state that Brodie’s is ‘Excellent’, while the other 2% rate this coffee shop as ‘Very Good’.
You can get a Brodie’s coffee from their “Bricks’N’Mortar” venue on North Road, or their scenic park coffee hut in Gorsedd Gardens.
2. Bigmoose Coffee Company, Cardiff
Aside from being one of the most highly-rated coffee shops in all of the United Kingdom, Bigmoose Coffee Company is also a non-profit organisation. When you buy a brilliant cup of coffee from this venue, the money you spend goes towards helping homeless and disadvantaged people to get back on their feet.
Visitors rave about Bigmoose’s spectacular coffees and cakes, including its gluten-free and vegan options, as well as the exemplary service. With 97% of reviews rating Bigmoose 5/5, it’s no secret that this coffee shop is a must-visit.
3. Dr Brews Coffee & Blues, Lake District
When you think about coffee meccas, typically it’s cities and larger towns that spring to mind. But Bowness-On-Windermere’s hidden gem, Dr Brews Coffee & Blues, has scored full marks across the board from hundreds of visitors. Nearly every visitor it has ever had, in fact. Of approximately 105 coffee shops in the Lake District, Dr Brews is rated number one.
This unassuming coffee shop is not yet as well known as some of the others on this list, but don’t overlook it on that basis. Many customers cite Dr Brews as the home of “the best coffee [they’ve] ever had”, and well worth a look-in if you’re in the area.
4. Freshwater Coffee House, Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight’s Freshwater Coffee House are experts in their field, supplying Island Roasted beans and a promise to tailor-make your coffee to suit your palate. Whether you’re after a hot coffee or iced, standard dairy milk, dairy-free or black, this is a venue that delivers on a promise to serve the very best, which is why they’re not only the Isle of Wight’s number one choice, but also one of the five most highly-rated coffee shops in the country.
Just like us, Freshwater Coffee House strives to be as eco-friendly as possible, so it also scores points for use of compostable goods, from cups and cutlery right through to rubbish bags.
5. Kekolo Coffee, Bath
It seems like there’s nothing that Bath’s Kekolo Coffee doesn’t know about coffee , which is probably why they get such consistently excellent reviews. They only use Arabica beans with a speciality grade of 82/100 or higher – sound familiar? – and each gourmet cup of joe they serve has ethical assurances too.
Many reviewers proclaim that Kekolo Coffee is the UK’s best, and we can certainly attest to it being in the top 5: watch this space, because it’s highly likely that as more people find out about Kekolo, their current 93.7% 5* review score will creep closer to 100%, and see them reach a higher spot in the UK coffee charts. (And for the record, the other 6.3% of their reviews are still a fantastic 4*.)
6. Rhubarb and Mustard, Plymouth
Customers say that the coffee at Rhubarb and Mustard “puts those big chain coffee shops to shame”, and we can believe it. Using beans roasted in nearby Falmouth, Rhubarb and Mustard offer different coffees every month, and are happy to provide notes on their origin and flavour profile.
As well as top-notch coffee, Plymouth’s Rhubarb and Mustard coffee shop is also known for selling world-class sandwiches, so make sure you’ve got room to eat when you drop in for a hot drink.
7. Alchemista, Norwich
Norwich has 69 coffee shops at the time of writing, but visitors from near and far rate Alchemista as the very best of the bunch. From eight-hour slow-dripped iced coffee, to indulgent coffee cocktails, it isn’t just the simple stuff that this coffee shop does well.
Like each establishment on this list, Alchemista has absolutely glowing reviews from hundreds of happy coffee fans. As well as the quality of their caffeine kicks, Alchemista also scores top marks for food and service, and visitors love their cosy location in the heart of the historic Norwich Lanes.
8. The Crepe and Coffee Cabin, Bristol
Bristol is one of the most coffee-soaked cities in the UK, with 111 coffee shops to choose from. As well as being the most highly-rated coffee shop in the city, The Crepe and Coffee Cabin is rated so highly, it’s made it to the top 10 out of all the coffee shops in the UK at the time of writing.
This venue may not look like much from the outside, tucked away in a tiny venue at the water’s edge, but it’s true what they say: great things often come in small packages. Don’t overlook this establishment if you’re in the area, because you won’t find a better cup of coffee for miles around.
9. Wheldrakes, York
As well as their homemade cakes and full English breakfasts, which include vegan and gluten-free choices, Wheldrakes are spoken of throughout Yorkshire and beyond as the best of the best in coffee shop choices.
Their freshly roasted beans come in a Wheldrakes’ signature blend, which hundreds of reviewers rate as the very best they’ve had. Don’t think that their culinary skills have taken anyone’s focus off the quality of their coffee: however you like yours brewed, Wheldrakes is sure to impress.
10. Coffee Tzar, Brighton
Coffee Tzar is Brighton’s only coffee shop to have a five-star rating at the time of writing, which is saying something: there are 103 coffee shops in Brighton, and with 83.5% five-star ratings, this one is the cream of the crop.
Their iced lattes receive particular acclaim, but it’s fair to say that consistent rave reviews about “the best coffee I’ve ever tasted” aren’t just focused on one particular style of coffee. Whatever your favourite way to consume a great bean, Coffee Tzar’s skilled baristas will hit the spot.
Special mentions to: Lovelocks – Liverpool (11th), Lowdown Coffee – Edinburgh (12th), Drury 188-189 – London (13th) and Kennington Lane Cafe – London (14th) who also sit within the highest-rated coffee shops on TripAdvisor UK. Position 15 is currently taken by a London venue which has sadly closed over the course of various lockdowns, while the next runners up tie for 16th place.
The UK’s best gourmet coffee, delivered
If all this talk of brilliant coffee has got you craving a cup at home, why not sign up for a gourmet coffee subscription? Here at Blue Coffee Box, we bring you only the highest-rated beans (scoring 83+ on the SCAA sensory scale) from independent roasters all over the UK. And whatever your choice of grind or roast, you can rest assured your coffee delivery will arrive in 100% fast-compostable, certified Plastic Free packaging, with a Taste Guarantee.
Top-rated venues and areas noted on this list were established by combining and analysing a range of data, including Tripadvisor reviews and ratings and social media hashtag data. Venues included in the Top 10 Coffee Shops list are those with the highest overall % of 5* reviews at the time of writing.
Top Cities and Regions were defined through venue research identifying areas with the highest number of coffee shops (via Tripadvisor) and roasters (via Roaster Depot) before dividing ties in the data based on any locations that did or did not have a coffee shop featuring in the top 10 individual venues.