12 great independent coffee shops in Britain

Brits may be stereotyped as avid tea drinkers, but it hasn’t stopped a growing coffee culture brewing across the nation.

With award-winning roasters and World Barista Champions, an emphasis on ethically sourced, independently roasted and perfectly brewed flavours, plus “third wave” coffee tastes from Aeropress to cold-drip methods, it’s clear there’s more to Britain’s caffeine fix beyond regular chain-café coffee.

In the wake of the London Coffee Festival at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane in London, which runs 28-31 March, we've selected some of our favourite spots for coffee in the country. Home to the best beans, blends and baristas, they're the perfect place to get your caffeine fix. 

1. Small Batch Coffee Roasters

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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This family-run coffee house roasts its own Arabica coffee, sustainably sourced from local farmers in over 20 countries. Now a powerhouse in local coffee culture, Small Batch has eight locations, serving everything from the classics to their own unique blends and cold brews.

1
Brighton

2. Colonna & Small's

Co-owned by Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood (a three-time winner at the UK Barista Championships), this speciality coffee hub is all about flavour. The menu changes weekly for that reason, rotating bespoke seasonal coffees from across the world, sourced by expert roasters all over the UK.

2
Bath

3. Full Court Press

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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This minimalist interior matches the slick menu which features two filter blends and two espresso blends that change weekly. The coffee comes from individual farms and co-ops all over the world, as well as some 30 roasters in Europe, enticing people to keep coming back.

3
Bristol

4. Coffee and Fandisha

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Known locally as the coolest coffee shop in the city, Liverpool's Coffee and Fandisha combines the finest blend of Ethiopian coffee with a peaceful, relaxing environment for a truly unique setting. It's impossible to miss too, thanks to the beautiful mural painted across the entrance.

4
Liverpool

5. Quarter Horse Coffee

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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What makes this independent roaster so special is you can see the roasting process in action at its on-site roastery. Premium beans, sourced from all over the globe from entrepreneurial female producers in places such as Colombia and Guatemala, are roasted weekly for maximum freshness.

5
Birmingham

6. Laynes Espresso

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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This espresso bar is not only is a sleek hangout where you can try dedicated brews (and some of the best sweet treats in the city from Porterhouse Cake Co) it’s also an educational space offering classes for hobby baristas through to professional qualifications.

6
Leeds

7. Pot Kettle Black

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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This inviting space in the Victorian-era Grade II-listed Barton Arcade was set up by two local Rugby League stars who wanted to serve artisan coffee in atmospheric surroundings, alongside a menu of healthier food choices including gluten-free and vegan options.

7
Manchester

8. Steam Yard

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Steam Yard’s owners wanted to keep the alternative, independent spirit of Sheffield’s Division Street alive and this café, with its cool concrete-wood-leather interior, still retains touches of its industrial past. Set in a Grade II-listed building, it serves coffee from London’s award-winning Square Mile Coffee Roasters, and is also known for its speciality coffee-doughnut combo, known as the “Steve McQueen”.

8
Sheffield

9. Flat Caps Coffee

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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For coffee brewed in three ways – Filter, Aeropress and the old-fashioned Syphon – head to this bohemian basement café. Owned by a UK Barista Champion finalist and former banker, Joe Meagher, the café sources its beans from roasting companies around the UK and Europe.

9
Newcastle

10. Brew Lab

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Brewed with meticulous detail and precise brewing techniques, you can try single-original filter and cold brew coffees alongside traditional espresso roasts at Brewlab where a weekly changing coffee menu and locally produced food add to the charm.

10
Edinburgh

11. Quantum Coffee Roasters

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Resembling a funky science lab, Quantum loves experimenting with its brewing methods, using V-60 and Chemex pour-overs, I-brick and cold brew towers to get the perfect brew from their in-house roasted blends.

11
Cardiff

12. Established

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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One of the pioneers of Belfast’s growing coffee scene, the fine coffee blends and tempting brunch menu are a big draw at this cool, minimalist café in the Cathedral Quarter. There’s also a dedicated training room where visitors can learn how to brew better coffee at home.

12
Belfast
31 Mar 2019(last updated)