For the connoisseurs – Italian perfection is to be found at Massaro’s, while Hot Numbers sets its own standards with a changing menu of beans fresh from its very own micro-roastery. Both have a respectable repertoire of edible treats, with Hot Numbers offering the sweet stickiness of chelsea buns from Fitzbillies to balance the bitter bite of its coffee and Massaro’s providing a tempting selection of organic sourdough sandwiches, with fillings such as Gloucester Old Spot sausage with apricot and ginger relish.For the sweet tooth – just as crucial as the coffee kick is a mid-afternoon sugar hit, and the array of goodies on offer at Fitzbillies and Stickybeaks hits the spot perfectly. Fitzbillies gets top marks for traditional treats such as chelsea buns (claimed to be invented here), scrummy scones, generous slices of Victoria Sponge and bakewell tarts, while Stickybeaks has an enticingly inventive spread of yummies, from peanut butter-caramel-banana loaf, to mulled wine chocolate cake, to pecan fudge shortbread…and the list goes on. Counteract the indulgence with a healthy salad if you’re stopping for lunch – combinations such as broccoli, almond and mangetout or feta, pomegranate and watermelon offer exciting alternatives to the usual limpid lettuce and tomato options.
For the studious – if coffee is what gets you through an essay, try The Union Café Bar or Waterstone’s for a tranquil change of scene. Photographs of famous speakers adorning the Union’s walls ought to provide sufficient inspiration for times of essay crisis – and the prices are student-friendly too. Waterstone’s has a similarly studious vibe, although the temptation to pack up the laptop and immerse oneself in travel guides or escapist fiction might prove too much for some…For the hungry – if you’re looking for more than just a cracking coffee, head to Limoncello or Urban Larder, both on Mill Road. With slabs of authentic bruschetta, mouthwatering olives, and wonderfully fresh antipasti, Limoncello offers a delicious slice of Italy – if you manage to leave without a wedge of pannetone or a pot of homemade pesto, your willpower deserves serious praise. Or for a taste of home, you can’t beat Urban Larder – all its products are sourced from within a 50-mile radius. The pies and quiches are wonderfully hearty, and on a cold winter’s day there’s nothing better than the organic soup served in a freshly-baked loaf.