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Bristol cafés: find the perfect hangout to blow your student loan

Written by Laurel Hunt

As a Bristol student myself, I have had the joy of exploring and relishing in the hundreds of coffee shops and cafes that this vibrant city has to offer. Each corner of Bristol boasts a different world; from Cabot Circus, to Harbourside, to Clifton Village, to Gloucester Road! The choices are endless. To me, coffee and cake isn’t just a pastime. It’s an opportunity to catch up with a friend, to crack on with some work, or to simply have some ‘me’ time. Below are some of my fave places that have caught my eye over the past 15 months, and I can’t wait for you to experience some of these spots too.

1. Downs Café

This was the first Bristol cafe I visited. I have some very fond memories here throughout my first year of University. Small yet perfectly formed, this cottage-like building has much to offer. With outside seating, as well as an ice cream fridge, this gorgeous café offers everything you could want after a long, refreshing walk across the Downs. The location could not be more perfect. There are smoothies, sausage rolls with a vegan alternative, and an array of cakes to choose from. Oh, did I mention, it’s dog friendly?

2. Columbian Coffee Company

Run by true coffee artisans, this quirky coffee shop situated opposite Clifton Down station offers authentically brewed coffee beans, the true Colombian way. I’ve tried a couple of their juices too, a great cure for a hangover! They offer some great sweet treat options, as well as some mouthwatering sourdough toasties.The vegan ones are just as good as the meat ones….if not, better! Despite this little beauty situated at the tail of Cotham Hill, it’s marked its spot with their contemporary seating, meal deal option and great caffeine.

3. Burra

This little gem based on Lower Redland Road offers a buzzy yet homely vibe and, in my opinion, is a great spot to crack down on a couple hours of work over a hot latte or blueberry muffin. They also offer a regular food menu if you fancied something more filling. Vegan friendly, this cute café often collaborates with Bristol based companies on their bakes. You can never go wrong with supporting a small business, who still makes the effort to work with local food producers.

4. Mrs Potts

This one just hits different. This is no café; this is a chocolate house on Park Street, which hits the spot if you are craving a slice of cake, cheesecake, or the hot chocolate of your dreams. I would say that this is a great spot to take children too! Vegan options include chocolate chip cookies with dark chocolate ganache filling.

5. Society Café

Based in Harbourside, this is one of three family-owned coffee shops of the same name. Huge fan of the minimalist atmosphere here; it’s a breath of fresh air. The team here are super friendly, and the range of sweet treats is astonishing! Dog friendly also! The natural light floods in through the massive windows; a great space for people-watching. You could easily spend an afternoon here, after a leisurely walk around the harbour.

6. Dareshack

I really like the quirky concept of Dareshack as an ever changing space. A stone’s throw from St Nicks Market; it’s coffee shop by day, and club vibe at night. There are art exhibitions here, and various music productions. For me, the cafe itself beats the coffee. It’s all about the vibes here, and with a statement wall of exposed brick, I feel like you can’t go wrong. Dareshack’s values revolve around inclusivity, accessibility, and knowledge of extraction. You definitely won’t be drinking mediocre coffee here, that’s for sure.

7. East Village Café

East Village Café is a delightful little spot found upon entering Clifton Village from Victoria Square. It’s a vegan and dog friendly spot that offers inside and outside seating in one of the most picturesque areas in Bristol. It serves an extensive selection of homemade cakes, as well as sandwiches and salads. There also happens to be a little gift shop at the back, which stocks the jewellery and homeware of their sister company – French Grey.

8. FED

Considering I’ve spent a lot of my time over the past couple of years trekking up and down Cotham Hill, I’m surprised I hadn’t found this hidden treasure sooner. Tucked on the corner past Soukous gift shop, FED left me feeling very well fed indeed! The range of freshly made salads, pasties and cakes was to die for. The staff were so welcoming and accommodating, and portion sizes were generous. The frittata is a must try.


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