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Originally published 2018
Norwich has a very distinct character, first thing in the morning – something hard to put into words, but noticeable enough for new visitors to the city to pick up on. The streets are quiet, pensive, and have that just-woken-up-but-somehow-still-functioning air, that anyone who’s ever slept through their alarm is familiar with.
No surprise then, that Norwich loves coffee. And Norwich loves GOOD coffee. As the city wakes up, the cafes, roasteries and market stalls wake up with it, to get you through another early start, another hangover, or another full-pelt day at work.
This is our list of our favourite independent places to pick up a coffee in the city. Just in time for the descending autumnal chills, wrap up and treat yourself.
So popular, the Little Red Roaster has three locations in Norwich: one on Grove Road, one on St Andrew’s Hill, and a Market Stall on Row B. The Market Stall in particular is great – there is nothing better on a rainy day than dipping into the undercover market, to get a blankety flat white to hold in-between gloved hands on your way back to work. They do a great selection of lunch-y things at St Andrew’s and Grove Road, too.
On the charming cobbled streets of Pottergate, Rabbit is contemporary and inviting. You’ll find plants in abundance, a fish tank, great coffee, chic crockery and some of the best sausage rolls in the city. And upstairs, you’ll also find gin…
In the Norwich Lanes, towards the towering Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Bread Source lives and breathes its magic. This airy bakery/coffee house is a place to while away hours, in tranquil Scandinavian-inspired interiors. The bread and pastries are just as good as the coffee, and they have an all-you-can-eat toast offer (plus coffee), for those who are eating in (£4.50).
Creators of ‘coffee potions’, Alchemista serve a range of speciality coffees and coffee cocktails as well as your more traditional café offering. You’ll know it by its steam punk interior and branding, and great views for people watching across St Gregory’s Green. Definitely worth a try.
Strangers on Pottergate (on the corner of St Gregory’s Green) is an icon. Ten years old next year, the coffee company also has its own roastery on Dove Street (where you can buy a bag of coffee for your machine at home). There is a coffee here for everyone: straight up takeaway for if you’re in a morning rush; a variety of beans and blends to choose from if you’re up for exploring. Biodegradable cups too!
On Magdalen Street, you will find vegan cafe Ancestors. Here you will find a bright, comfortable, tranquil place to catch up with friends (or the next chapter in your book!), with a coffee and something to eat. Everything is plant based, and there are a variety of milks to choose from. Try their Buddha bowls for something really nourishing (and beautiful).
Coffee. Community. Quality. This is the ethos of Kofra, and they have all three in abundance. The coffee speaks for itself: ethically sourced, quality beans from all over the world come together in their shops on Unthank Road (just over the Bridge from St Giles, opposite the Cathedral) and in the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. Community is true too – Jose and his team are some of the nicest people in the business, who are passionate about coffee and making it well. Pay them a visit; this one’s special.
This is a such a gem, nestled in Norwich’s historic Elm Hill. If you’ve read this blog before, you will almost certainly know that The Britons Arms is one of the only surviving buildings of a fire that ravaged the street in 1507. It’s also one of only 5 buildings in the city with a thatched roof. Get in touch with the friend you haven’t seen in ages, and catch up for hours in the secret terrace, which is covered in plants and a hidden oasis in the heart of the busy city.
A small family firm established in the early 70’s, Wilkinson’s is a quality tea and coffee merchant in a historic building on Lobster Lane. It’s a shop straight of the pages of a favourite book: the shelves are piled high with silver tins of exotic teas, and the smell of freshly ground beans is incredible. If you’re looking for something to take home with you, then this is the place.