Where to enjoy coffee in Devon: 26 of the best places to go
PUBLISHED: 08:50 30 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:17 30 April 2019
Bean freaks, brew geeks and the simply curious – take note. 26 of Devon’s top speciality coffee shops are named in the South West and South Wales Independent Coffee Guide.
Each year the South West and South Wales Independent Coffee Guide collects the region's very best independent coffee shops, roasters and outlets in one handy guide.
Cafes and roasteries are invited into the guide based on meeting strict criteria: roasting or serving speciality grade coffee, providing interesting serve styles in addition to espresso, providing a top quality experience for coffee lovers, and being independently owned.
This list is put together from entries in the 2017 and 2018 editions of the guide.
1) March Coffee, Exeter
With a stripped back menu to match its contemporary industrial design, don't visit Exeter's latest speciality shop in search of lengthy lunch listings or a kaleidoscope of syrup-dosed coffees. Instead, appreciate the complex flavours in the prudently poured Crankhouse espresso while chatting tasting notes with owner and barista John Petherick.
You'll find the Exeter roaster's current beans chalked up on the blackboard behind the bar, with occasional guest roasts from notable names such as Caravan. You also have to try one of their filled artisan doughnuts, a doughy delight many call the best in town.
2) Port Espresso, Brixham
The groove of a blues bassline is usually accompanied by the typical hissing, clinking and chinking of coffee production as well as 'layers of caffeine-fuelled chatter' at Brixham's Port Espresso.
Some customers will take a window seat to absorb the warming Devon sunshine while others will happily squeeze around the slanting school bench. Whether they've dropped by for a commuter caffeine fix, a get-together brunch or to frequent the badass bakery, there's damn fine coffee for all.
3) Calypso Coffee Company, Torquay
When it comes to beverages that burst with bold creativity, Lucas, Lana and the team at Calypso Coffee never run short of ideas. Enthusiastic experimentation takes place beneath the handcrafted industrial-chic chandeliers of this spacious cafe on Torquay's Fleet Street.
Alongside the classic espresso, filter and cold brew, interesting surprises on the drinks menu include sumptuous lavender and citrus cream coffees. Traditionalists need not be deterred by the quirky presentation as every single cup never skimps on quality.
4) Exploding Bakery, Exeter
It's worth catching an early train to Exeter to nab one of the city's best people-watching spots outside Exploding Bakery. The communal benches next to Exeter Central station are a prime place to spy on city-slickers hotfooting it to the office with a 'spro in hand, or students snaffling a slab of cake for breakfast.
But it's the view of the Exploding bakers working on the next batch of baked beauties that's the sweetest sight of all. Considering owners Tom and Oli only started the business in 2011, they've sure come a long way since starting with a dodgy oven and questionable coffee machine.
5) Exe Coffee Roasters, Exeter
It's been a labour of love and a long journey for Steve and Kim Pearson of Exeter's first coffee shop and roastery hybrid. Starting out on the festival circuit in 2004, The Pearson's foray into caffeine kicked off with a custom converted coffee van.
As their passion grew, so did their following, and in 2012 they opened Devon Coffee on Queen Street. Three years later, Steve set about building his own gas flame drum roaster and was soon serving his hand-roasted coffee from a second outpost in the city. You can even learn from the best by keeping an eye out for one of their barista courses where you will discover a few of the Roasters' secrets.
6) The Mad Merchant Coffee House, Plymouth
The Mad Merchant may be the new kid on the Plymouth coffee block, yet the lively Barbican hangout is already gaining a firm following of brew-guzzling creatives, artists and literature lovers.
Mum and daughter team – and avid arts lovers – Kay and Bekah are cultivating a cultural hub in the 16th century former merchant's house, using inspiration fired by Extract's Original Espresso. Guest beans from the Bristol roastery rotate every few months while fresh homemade cakes provide the ideal sweet accompaniment to your steaming hot cup.
7) Wild Thyme Cafe, Braunton
Just five minutes' drive from the famed longboard surf spot of Saunton beach, Wild Thyme is always packed out with smoothie-slurping, brunch-munching regulars on their way to catch some waves – or sandy and exhausted on their way home.
The espresso based drinks come courtesy of Bristol roaster Clifton in a longstanding collaboration that results in continuous training for the Thyme team. Various tastes and requirements are catered for by diverse menus including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options – the veggie sausage muffin sounds really good.
8) Charlie Fridays Coffee Shop, Lynton
Mismatched tables, fresh flowers, fairy lights, comfy cushions, candles and a joyous lime green wash lend Charlie Fridays its fun and funky atmosphere. Add to that games, colouring books, guitars, knitting and DJ nights and it's easy to see why regulars want to spend their downtime at this uplifting hangout.
The beans roasted by Bristol's Extractare - served in various guises including espresso, macchiato and white or dark mocha – were key to their 2016 success at the Devon Life Food & Drink Awards – although their delicious curries and homemade treats also likely had something to do with it.
9) The Almond Thief, Dartington
Tucked in an out-of-the-way industrial unit surrounded by lush Devon countryside, the team behind The Almond Thief are fabricators of lust-inducing craft bakes and superb speciality brews.
The unassuming exterior belies the super slick operation beavering away inside, where a band of busy bakers craft a stonking selection of pastries, breads and brunch beauties every morning. Whether you're after a sweet pastel de nata, a sticky cardamom bun or a wholemeal sourdough loaf, these guys will have you covered.
10) The Hutong Cafe, Plymouth
After forging a caffeine-fuelled friendship with fellow Devonian, Roastworks, Hutong stocks a cracking array of single origins from the indie outfit for its filter system. Though it's the bold and simple Truth blend that has rocketed in popularity, firmly cementing itself as the cafe's staple espresso – the locals just can't get enough of its punchy aroma.
With cosy nooks, flumpy cushions, hulking great sandwiches and truly outstanding coffee, The Hutong has quickly established itself in Plymouth since opening in April 2017. To take The Hutong experience with you out of their four walls, download a specially put together playlist encapsulating the café's atmosphere.
11) Boston Tea Party, Exeter
Boston's Exeter branch may not look much from the outside but venture up the wooden staircase and you'll find a bazaar of brew-fuelled chat and cake-scoffing catch ups.
The huge, high-ceilinged dining room continues to be a haven for coffee lovers and keen foodies in the Cathedral city, where it feels part of the furniture after all these years. While it certainly has a scale that dwarfs others on this list, Boston still maintain incredibly high standards and never forget that attention to detail.
12) Annie and the Flint, Ilfracombe
Pining for one that is rich, dark and handsome? Have a penchant for a medium body with a long sweet finish? Love a good looking flat white? Matchmakers Annie and the Flint can pair you with a suitable beau to ignite your senses.
Carefully sourced beans, expertly roasted at Helston's Origin and served in espresso-based drinks, are your perfect paramour. But it's not just the coffee at this industrial-chic Ilfracombe haunt that you'll adore: it's also the health-conscious, fresh vibe of the food offering – treats that your heart and waistline will also love you for.
13) Bayards Kitchen, Dartington
When the owners of two successful cafes spend their wedding anniversary doing a kitchen deep clean, you know you're onto a winner. Charlie and Zuzana Deuchar's new coffee house, Bayards Kitchen, spills onto an al fresco terrace with tables set among trees and plants while the contemporary interior's welcoming design feels unmistakably homely.
A cooked breakfast at Bayards is a must: whether it's the unashamedly meaty traditional, the vegan variety or the veggie version, one of these alongside a well-poured Americano is a great way to begin the day.
14) Bayards Cove Inn, Dartmouth
This Tudor merchant house turned modern bistro – the second business owned by Charlie and Zuzana Deuchar - isn't the first place you'd except to find speciality coffee while touring the South West but hey, eclectic finds is what the Independent Coffee Guide is all about.
Steeped in history, Bayards Cove is a one-stop shop in the dashing south Devon town of Dartmouth for pre-dinner pints overlooking the harbour, fully-blown locally sourced suppers or simply a ruddy good cup of coffee and a wedge of cake. You could even just stay the night and sip your coffee in the comfort of your own beautifully-appointed room.
15) Rockets & Rascals, Plymouth
Single origin guest coffees, Italian racing bikes and moreish cakes motivate cyclists from across Devon and Cornwall to employ pedal power to hit up this unique part-coffee, part-bike shop on Plymouth's Barbican.
Although it's not just bike buffs who have fallen for the caffeinated cycling emporium: it's won the heart of many a local too. That should come as no surprise as well-priced sourdough breakfast bites and simple pies or toasties for lunch will keep any sort of taste happy.
16) The Hairy Barista, Totnes
After years of planning, husband and wife team Roee 'Hairy Roy' Yekutiel and Ruth Harris have finally found the perfect spot for their burgeoning coffee business. They're evidently doing something right as coffee lovers are already saying it produces the best coffee in the boho town of Totnes.
For those supping in store, seek out the hidden cave seating area and revel in a smooth, nutty house espresso pulled through the customised Conti machine, or opt for one of seven single origins brewed via cafetiere. Beans from London-based Mission are ground on demand as standard.
17) Beatsworkin, Barnstaple
A love of both the board and a decent brew make for a great mash-up at Glenn Field's caffeinated skate shop in Barnstaple, showing that Devon is leading the way in unusual food and retail combinations.
With its polished concrete bar, exposed brickwork and vibrant skateboard-decked walls, it's the fresh and funky hangout for anyone with a passion for the grind – of both the skateboard and speciality coffee varieties.
18) Moor at 13, Kingswear
Set right on the River Dart, Moor at 13 is your ideal choice to pick up a coffee with a homemade cake and enjoy the riverside views across to Dartmouth.
Despite only opening midway through 2018, the cafe has already gained a popular reputation with locals who can always be assured of top quality hot drinks and a warm welcome from owner Lottie.
19) Hangry, Plymouth
We've all had that feeling where our mood plummets and all we need is a coffee and a bite to eat to put us right back on track. Hangry, on Ebrington Street, caters for people feeling exactly like that with a variety of brunch-style dishes and coffee from local producers.
Ebrington Street is full of other great independent eateries and yet Hangry still manages to stand out among some very tough competition.
20) The Leaping Salmon, Horrabridge
Although it might be best known as a pub, The Leaping Salmon also has a popular cafe that serves coffee, tea and cake between 9am and 4pm five days a week.
Set within Dartmoor and right next to the River Walkham, they have several ensuite rooms above the cafe so you can enjoy their excellent coffee time and again. The cafe is also dog-friendly so your pooch can join you after a day exploring our majestic National Park.
21) Devon Coffee, Exeter
Located in the heart of Exeter's commercial and tourism centre, you would likely have seen this distinctive orange coffee shop if you've visited the city recently.
If you're walking along Queen Street and find yourself having to choose between Devon Coffee and Caffe Nero next door, always plump for the local option.
22) Ivan's Cafe, Halberton
Previously known as the Halberton Court Farmshop Café, Ivan's is run by Ivan Bunyard, a proprietor with extensive experience of bringing mobile coffee to music festivals, street food fairs and country fairs.
Before Ivan took over in March 2018 it only opened seasonally but now it will be open year round. Due to its rural location Ivan's is popular with cyclists so we'd recommend working in a stop here on your next cycle out.
23) Block, Barnstaple
Describing itself as a 'kitchen, coffee and lifestyle store', Block is on Barnstaple's Butchers Row and just down the road from another popular Barnstaple coffee shop, Beatsworkin.
After enjoying a coffee made from beans sourced in El Salvador and roasted in Bristol alongside a cake from their ever-changing menu, browse the collection of locally made homewares, cosmetics and greeting cards.
With one branch on the Instow side of the River Torridge and another on the Appledore side, you need not visit anywhere else for your coffee fix when spending the day exploring this gorgeous part of coastal Devon.
If you want to sit down and enjoy the riverside sights then the Appledore side may be the better option as it has some outside seating as well as a number of public benches just metres away.
25) 51 Degrees North Coffee Company, Braunton
As a mobile coffee van you can expect to see this great independent all around North Devon, not just in its regular position at Braunton's Tesco.
26) Meraki Coffee Co, Woolacombe
After a long day on Woolacombe Beach it'll be a welcome relief to take a step back from the beach-going crowds and enjoy a perfect cup of coffee.
It's also dog-friendly so you can head in land to warm up after taking your four-legged friend for a wander around this particularly beautiful part of North Devon.
Find full write ups and more cracking coffee shops and local roasters in the brand new South West & South Wales Independent Coffee Guide – get your hands on a copy here.
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