To be quite honest, Oxford is not the best city for cafe lovers. Maybe it is just because I come from Newcastle where you can find comfortable cafes with welcoming staff on every corner. I struggled when I first moved to Oxford full time. Luckily, my determination to find the cosy corners of the city and my pure love for coffee kept me searching.
I am pleased to say, I have found for you the five best cafes to visit in the centre of Oxford. I hope this list saves you time and energy whilst you wander the city streets desperately searching for a decent brew.
5. George Street Social
General weekday opening times – 0800 – 2300
We are kicking this list off with George Street Social because it is the best all-rounder. Where I get the majority of my writing done. Think central perk but English, on two floors, more hip and also sells alcohol.
In my humble (former-barista snobbish) opinion, they offer the tastiest Chai Lattes in Oxford. They serve delicious food including sharing platters of Nachos, french toast and a large variety of burgers. If you’re after something cheaper, the Cream tea and scones are great value and very English.
Whilst most modern cafe’s are designed to make people buy their coffee, instagram it and leave- George Street Social hasn’t taken that approach. Instead of trendy yet uncomfortable seating, they are kitted out with cosy booths and sofas, books, laptop plugs and board games. Really, the only thing they’re missing is beanbag chairs.
General weekday opening times – 0900 – 1900
Normally, I wouldn’t give big companies such a shout out. For Waterstones, I had to make an exception. Waterstones cafe is wonderfully simple and understated. Most people might not even know it’s there, yet it’s right in the middle of Oxford and serves some of the best coffee in the city centre.
It’s situated on the third floor and looks out over the corner of Cornmarket and George Street. If you visit at the right time, you will enjoy a calming view of the sun setting behind the chaos of George Street whilst the entire cafe is filled with evening light. Order yourself a warm soup, bask in the tranquillity and observe the world going buy.
The baristas at Waterstones are genuinely passionate about the coffee they serve and they know how to make it good. As a coffee snob, you can trust me on that.
Some latte art by Kat, one of Waterstones Senior Baristas. Follow her on instagram for more coffee love
General weekday opening times – 0900 – 1600
Tucked away quietly in the Covered Market is the #1 place to hibernate with a hot chocolate on a cold, winters day. Georgina’s has been part of our Covered Market for a long time, decades even. It was originally ‘Georges Cafe’ and has moved ownership but the integrity has remained.
I used to visit frequently with my grandma to have a hot chocolate break during our Christmas shopping sprees. On my most recent visit I came early enough to have the cafe all to myself. Spanish flamenco music was playing as the owners were busy preparing their food for a busy day. I noticed that they had baklava and it took every fibre of my being to resist ordering a slice.
I ordered an almond milk mocha which, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the most irritating drinks to make. Despite my awkward milk order, my mocha came out smooth and creamy.
Georgina’s is definitely the biggest hidden gem on the list and is a must for an authentic Oxford trip.
2. Colombia Coffee Roasters
General weekday opening times – 0800 – 1800
Colombia Coffee Roasters is the best quality coffee in Oxford. It’s where I send all my guests from the hotel. I would trust these coffee makers with my life. If I had a gun held to my head and the only way to save myself was to take the person to where they can find a real cup of coffee. This is where I would take them.
There’s a lovely atmosphere and it is a great spot for people watching in the Covered Market. However even if they didn’t have that, they would survive on their coffee alone. The simple design shows that they don’t have to hide behind anything. The reason to visit is the product itself.
1. G&D’s – Oxford’s own ice cream
General weekday opening times – 0800 – 2400
G&D’s has been a part of Oxford lives since 1992. I have fond memories to go with each of my favourite flavours- Mango sorbet, Oxford blue and Super chocolate. Once my family and I were rushing to catch a train but figured we had time to pick up ice cream before hand. I’ll never forget my younger sister wailing over a puddle of her fallen raspberry sorbet, as we were running, cones in hand, toward the station.
There are three branches in Oxford, one of which is in the city centre, opposite Christ Church. In summer, the queue will likely flood out into the street, but if you have the time, it is more than worth the wait. If you are impatient like me, then come back in the evening for a quiet relaxed atmosphere.
All the products are made in one of their three stores and transported between one another on bike. Oxford has grown and developed immensely in recent years, there has been changes to the Covered Market and the building of the Westgate. G&D’s has remained reliable and the heart of Oxford cafe culture.