Being the caffeine addict and coffee snob that I am, I made it a personal mission to test out as many Oxford coffee shops as I could during my time here. While pretty much every café and restaurant sells coffee of some sort, there are a number of places dedicated specifically to coffee. For anyone headed to Oxford in the near future (or just dreaming of going), I’m giving my thoughts on these coffee shops – based not only on the coffee itself, but on the environments and food as well. They’re all great little coffee nooks, but they’re all a little different. Depending on your mood or personal preferences, some may sound better than others; my coffee shop of changes pretty much daily based on what I want to drink and what kind of study environment I’m looking for.
(I’m putting these in alphabetical order, so don’t interpret the order listed as some sort of overall ranking!)
This particular coffee shop is a little bit away from city centre, closer to the Park Town area; however, this is advantageous for me, because it’s within walking distance from where I’m staying. This place is tiny – and when I say tiny, I mean there’s maybe six table total. Luckily, since they’re not in city centre, they’re usually not too crowded, so I’ve never gotten there and not found a place to sit. Coffee-wise, they’re probably my second favorite (but only slightly behind my #1), and I’m obsessed with their flat whites. They also serve their coffee in these beautifully decorated cups, which just makes you feel fancy and put-together, even if you’re simultaneously trying to write an essay 5 hours before it’s due
If you’re looking for the more sugary side of coffee, this is your go-to place. As represented by the picture I chose for this place, they offer a nice selection of seasonal drinks – like this café crème brulee they served for Valentine’s Day. It’s situated right next to the main bus station, and has quite a bit of seating, including a giant sectional that pretty much sucks you in, so it’s an ideal spot to hang out while you’re waiting to catch a bus. Also, they have amazing pancakes.
George Street Social
What they lack in latte art, they make up for in basically everything else. First of all, the food is fantastic. I’ve had vegan chocolate cake, superfood salad, pancakes, and poached eggs on toast, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each and every one. This makes it an ideal spot for an extended study session, because you can snack while you work instead of just consuming copious amounts of caffeine. Also, it turns into a bar at night, if you fancy a cheeky pint later on in the evening. The environment is pretty great in general – it’s kind of a hipster place if you know what I mean, and the walls are decorated with art, the bookshelves are filled with old board games, and they have the single best staircase I have ever seen.
Jericho Coffee Traders
Situated out on High Street, I actually only stumbled upon this place on accident. I’m very happy I did, however, because it’s such an awesome little shop. Here, I discovered something called bonbon coffee, which is essentially a shot of espresso and a shot of sweetened condensed milk. It’s sweet and smooth, and it’s a great pick-me-up when you just need a little extra boost. I also really love the view from this place – if you sit at the window up front, you can see the entire street and it’s really quite picturesque. The only downside is that you get a cold breeze every time someone opens the door. I’m sure that’s quite lovely any other time of year, but since I’m here in the coldest months, it’s definitely a bit of a pain.
The Missing Bean
There’s so many downsides to this particular coffee shop, but the coffee 100% makes up for it. I think, if forced to choose, this place would be my favorite. The espresso is PHENOMENAL. I’m not normally the type to drink espresso black, but I’ve done it a couple times here because their espresso is just that smooth. However, it’s incredibly cramped, and given its location right in city centre, it’s also generally pretty crowded. I recommend getting there early in the morning if you’re going to go. Also, depending on your ability to get work done with noise, Missing Bean may not be ideal for you, as the small space and high volume of people means that there’s quite a bit of ambient noise. But the coffee, people. The coffee.
This was the first coffee shop I visited at Oxford. If you’re looking for Instagram-worthy vibes, this place has them. It’s all very modern and geometric looking, and the latte art is definitely something to be admired. The coffee itself isn’t my favorite, but it’s got decent seating (read: multiple corners where I can essentially isolate myself and crank out some writing) and they whip up a pretty dang good mocha, so overall it’s pretty satisfying.