From a flat white at Flat White to fluffy pancakes overlooking the River Wear, this is my guide to the best cafes in Durham.
As I explained in this post pulling together the best cafes up in Newcastle, I am now somehow a coffee drinker. I now don’t mind a little sit down coffee in a café alongside my wife and little girl so it would only be right to look at where’s best to go in my adopted hometown. Writing about Durham always reminds me that I need to spend more time in the city especially as I only live 10 minutes away.
So whether you’re a regular visitor to the city or someone looking to plan for a weekend trip, this is my guide to the best cafes in Durham.
THE BEST CAFES IN DURHAM
Hidden in the vennels in the heart of Durham, you’ll find Vennels Café within historic 16th century building. It’s believed that from within part of the building English mustard as we know it today was invented by Mrs Clements in 1720! Vennels is very popular with students of Durham University for good reason. You have to order at the counter so you’ll no doubt be trying to peek past and peer over people whilst waiting in the queue to see what’s on offer. There are plenty of sandwiches, homemade pies and oven-baked jacket potatoes alongside plenty of sweet treats. The café is dog friendly too with sausages on offer for your fluffy friends!
Flat White Kitchen
Without doubt this is Durham’s most popular café and you’ll often find a queue of people outside just waiting for an elusive table. Flat White Kitchen offer great coffee (Ouseburn Coffee Co) and great brunch options; avocado on sourdough toast is obviously available but so too are ricotta pancakes and baked eggs. The decor is probably best described as boho rustic – Flat White Kitchen wouldn’t look out of place in Australia. Flat White Café is the sister coffee shop, within the same building, but accessed round the back near Elvet Bridge.
Leonard’s Coffee House
I feel like Leonard’s is a proper hidden gem and probably my favourite café in Durham after stumbling upon it in Fowler’s Yard. Open from Wednesday to Sunday, this is a little cosy and friendly café where you’ll find homemade cakes and scones, breakfast stotties and a good selection of drinks. On my first visit, I went with a pretty standard Flat White but there’s plenty to choose from; the hot chocolates look amazing.
You’ll find Cafédral Durham on the corner of Saddler Street and Owengate just before you begin your final ascent towards the Cathedral. It’s the building with plenty of greenery on the outside and just as much inside as well. The scones are famous here with them being freshly made each and every day. If there are any left, it’s great to know that the leftover food is given to the homeless. In terms of drinks, it’s a salted caramel latte for me but I do fancy trying the caramel crunch cappuccino!
Biz-R Coffee House
Another independent coffee house in Durham this time along the Riverwalk with perfect views back towards the castle. The carrot cake comes highly recommended as do the paninis! A perfect place to relax in the city when everywhere gets a little too busy.
Another highlight of any visit to Durham is ordering the fluffiest pancakes from Riverview Kitchen and admiring the view from under Framwellgate Bridge. The nutella and strawberry pancakes are obviously a classic but you’ll find something for everyone. Riverview Kitchen is dog friendly too so it’s a perfect ending for those wandering the river banks with their dogs.
There are no doubt plenty more places I need to check out in Durham and I’m sure I’ll get to them all soon (next on the list is Chapters Tea Rooms). For now though the above are what I would consider to be the best cafes in Durham at the moment.
I would love to know what you think – have you visited any already and have a favourite or are you now planning your next trip around coffee?