A whistle-stop tour of Oxford’s best coffeehouses and cafés

Features Food

Most students would vouch for the fact that caffeine is an integral part of student life here in Oxford. Whether you’re nursing your post-Park End hangover, cracking out a last-minute essay, or simply seeking a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city, Oxford offers an abundance of coffeehouses and cafés suited to every need. Time to get exploring! 

The Missing Bean 
(Turl Street, OX1 3DQ)

Popular amongst dwellers of the Turl Street colleges, The Missing Bean is a bustling espresso bar serving a variety of hot and cold brewed beverages, including a unique ‘dirty chai’ – try it and you’ll see what all the fuss is about! Perhaps what’s most impressive about this coffee hotspot is the considerate nature of the staff; although they are almost always rushed off their feet by queues meandering out the door and trickling down Turl Street, they always remain eager to please and have genuine passion for their job. The café also offers a small range of baked goods, as well as light lunches and snacks. Just a short walk from the Radcliffe Camera and Bodleian Library, The Missing Bean is the perfect destination for a short (or long) study break. 

Vaults and Garden 
(Radcliffe Square, OX1 4AH) 

Nestled deep in the heart of Oxford, this paradoxically quaint-yet-grand tea room is a firm favourite of many Oxford students. It is highly versatile, providing a safe haven for coffee-lovers all year round. During the winter, you can sip on lattes to your heart’s content under a canopy of impressive vaults, while outside it offers a tranquil terraced garden overlooking the striking Radcliffe Camera, perfect for a hot summer’s day. Vaults and Garden also offers an extensive lunch menu, ranging from comforting soups to adventurous tagines and curries. 

Art Café
(New Road, OX1 1LT)

The Art Café still appears to be off the radar for many students, but this quirky retro café is definitely worth a visit (or two). Located directly opposite the much-frequented Westgate shopping complex, the Art Café is an ideal destination to pause for a quick coffee stop during an essay crisis-fuelled shopping spree. Offering classic teas and coffees, the café also serves up a mean full English Breakfast, as well as tasty pasta dishes come lunchtime. 

George Street Social 
(New Inn Hall Street, OX1 2DH)

George Street Social is an incredibly popular coffee destination tucked just around the corner from the commotion of George Street. By day, it is a cosy coffee shop, serving up a wide range of hot and cold drinks, as well as the notoriously tasty all-day brunch. By night, it is transformed into an atmospheric cocktail bar, making George Street Social a great all-rounder. Open until 11pm every night, this is a great place to get your late-night caffeine fix, even if it is in the form of an espresso martini!

Colombia Coffee Roasters
(Covered Market, OX1 3DY)

Nuzzled amongst the winding lanes of the Covered Market, Colombia Coffee Roasters is the number one destination for speciality coffee sourced from traditional farmers in Colombia. The beans are roasted to perfection, delivering a deliciously authentic flavour, and giving you the perfect opportunity to recharge your batteries in preparation for the day ahead. If coffee isn’t your thing, the baristas also craft an incredibly decadent hot chocolate, which really satiates the chocolate craving. The crumbly brownies are also a treat!

GAIL’s Bakery 
(Little Clarendon Street, OX1 2HU)

If you find yourself heading out towards the cosmopolitan suburb of Jericho, it’s definitely worth dropping by GAIL’s for a coffee pit-stop to break up the journey. Starting as an artisan bakery in London, GAIL’s has since expanded to Oxford and is a firm favourite amongst students and locals alike. Their medium roast Fairtrade coffee delivers the perfect balance of sweet and nutty and is a great means of getting your caffeine fix, whether it’s accompanied by a flaky Danish pastry in the morning or a full-flavoured quiche at lunch. 

The Grand Café, Oxford
Credit: Bex Walton

The Grand Café 
(High Street, OX1 4BG)

Perhaps not your everyday student coffee shop, The Grand Café truly is a treat. Located on the site of England’s first coffeehouse, this historic hotspot offers a delightful combination of grandeur and solace. Dishing up arguably the best cream tea in Oxford, you can enjoy floral teas and jam-packed scones in the glory of this opulent establishment. 

Turl Street Kitchen 
(Turl Street, OX1 3DH)

Located in the very centre of the city on the quaint lane of Turl Street, Turl Street Kitchen offers an incredibly homely atmosphere, allowing you to curl up with your coffee and a novel in an antique armchair or crowd around the fireplace with friends. The environment is authentically friendly and the coffee is equally as comforting. Ranging from creamy lattes to energising Americanos, Turl Street Kitchen is a unique port of call for coffee, and one that many would recommend. It also transforms into a delightful destination for dinner, where guests are treated to freshly cooked food in the warm glow of candlelight. 

The Jericho Café 
(Walton Street, OX2 6AJ)

Situated in the buzzing neighbourhood of Jericho, The Jericho Café is a staple of cosmopolitan life in this eclectic suburb. Serving up an award-winning brunch, this café is the ideal place to indulge. The coffee is comfortingly creamy and is paired perfectly with a generous slice of homemade cake or a delicately crafted Danish pastry. Despite being located just a few minutes’ stroll from the city centre, The Jericho Café feels like a getaway, and is a great place to escape for a few hours. 

So grab some friends and hit the books with your perfect coffee fix!

Image credit: Erica Yokoyama