Everyone needs to escape the office sometimes. With the need for static office working becoming less, and dynamic working becoming increasingly popular, it’s important to scope out places to catch up on your emails around town. Here at 10 Creative we love the local coffee culture, which has really taken off in the last few years, with cafes catering specifically to a need for workspaces. Here’s our guide to the best baristas, top tables and laptop lounge spaces in Cambridge.
01Espresso Library — East Road
Espresso Library is situated on the far side of Parker’s Piece. It’s a big open plan industrial space, which has been designed impeccably. The décor alone is a reason to go, with Scandinavian furnishings and gallery space along the walls. Not to mention, the vintage bicycles suspended from the ceiling and the giant windows that make the place perfectly Instagramable. They have a health-focused menu, offering veggie and vegan dishes, breakfasts packed full of goodness and juices prepared fresh each day. And yes, they do still do bacon sandwiches. They love cycling, and even have their own branded cycling kit. It’s a perfect space to arrange a meeting, and you won’t be the only one doing it. Other than us, the regulars are local businesses, lawyers, professors and various other high-powered people. It’s also very close to Kelsey Kerridge, so it’s a good spot for post workout power food. They even open late sometimes with an evening menu and a fantastic gin and tonic.
Go here for: impressing people in a meeting with good coffee
Stay for: soaking in the décor
Recommendation: come before 12 for the vegan pancakes with coconut yogurt, or if you’re later get the rainbow bowl
02Hot Numbers — Gwydir Street
Situated in the old Dales Brewery, a stunning turn of the century building, Hot Numbers has a vibe I’m yet to find elsewhere. There’s a mix of people coming and going all the time; families, students, coffee nerds, writers and best of all, it’s dog friendly. Plenty of people work here but if you go on a weekday there’s usually plenty of space. The coffee is ‘third wave’ to a very high standard and they roast it themselves. They have a great menu of contemporary lunch dishes that they worked on in partnership with a top-notch chef. They even open late on Thursday and Friday with live jazz, good beer and food vans. All in all, this one’s a winner.
Go here for: good coffee, good community and live music
Stay for: good desk space, lots of plugs
Recommendation: Talk to the knowledgeable baristas about the different coffees and try something new
03Hot Numbers — Trumpington Street
It might seem like cheating to use a different branch of the same café, but this is an entirely different space to work in. They have the same great coffee and expertise but the clientele are entirely different. Here you will find academics and engineers, as well as a lot more students. Situated near the Fitzwilliam museum, the engineering and history of art departments of the university, Trumping Street Hot Numbers makes for a more bustling environment. They also have a lovely garden with some excellent summer sun spots, but any day of the week it’s hard to get a table. They have communal working spaces as well as cosy two person tables, excellent for meetings, and a few seats on the street for a more continental vibe. The line is often long and you might have to share tables but it’s worth it for the great vibe and yes they also allow dogs.
Go here for: the outdoor seating and great lunch options
Stay for: overhearing conversations between geniuses
Recommendation: go early on a sunny day and sit in the back garden with your shoes off
04Urban Larder — Mill Road
Located in the cool part of town, Urban Larder is in a hub of amazing local eateries and businesses. It’s a small café, with a great shop selling locally designed gifts and oils, chutneys and jams as well as coffee beans from Butterworth and Son. They have amazing cakes and a good window seat, as well as tables out on the street. In the summer they also sell incredible ice cream to take away. The vibe is Scandinavian, with some industrial feels and really good branding. The staff are always friendly and have a great sense of humour too. It’s small, but everyone is happy to share tables and there’s always a good selection of veggie and vegan food.
Go here for: a nice window seat and a creative atmosphere
Stay for: a chilled out friendly vibe
Recommendation: the amazing toasties and the iced coffee with sweet condensed milk
051815 at the Cambridge Union Society
Located behind Cambridge’s second oldest local gem, the Round Church, and in one of Cambridge University’s most infamous buildings; 1815 is the bar of the Cambridge Union Society and YES you are allowed in. They don’t serve the best coffee, but it’s still good and the sandwiches and cakes are top notch and low cost. What I come here for is the atmosphere. In the day it’s not usually that busy, which means you can have a huge squashy leather armchair and a table all to yourself. The walls are covered in signed posters of famous people they have had speak in the chamber and the other clientele are usually quiet. They don’t mind you staying there for a long time, and it’s nice to watch the interesting people that come and go.
Go here for: a super comfortable place to work
Stay for: the history and atmosphere
Recommendation: work late and have a cocktail, Bart the bar manager makes an amazing gin bramble
06Fitzbillies — Bridge Street
Located In Cambridge’s historic city centre, with a view of Magdalene College and the Quayside, this is the famous café’s second branch. Famed for their cakes, they also do fantastic coffee, and you can even order a champagne picnic to take on the punts with you. Fitzbillies is a staple of Cambridge, but this branch has a large communal working table as well as traditional café seating in the back room. The atmosphere is pleasant, if a little busy at times but you can always find a seat amongst the academics and tourists.
Go here for: a good spot in the city centre with great cakes
Stay for: a productive atmosphere with good charging spots
Recommendation: you have to try a Fitzbillies Chelsea bun. Or even their Chelsea bun ice cream.
07The wall at the Mill Pond
Hear me out on this one. This is one of my favourite spots to sit and work in Cambridge. If you get a good spot, you can get a coffee from one of the local cafes (or even a great beer in a plastic pint glass from The Mill) and sit and watch the punters fall about and crash into each other. It’s a very wholesome spot to watch the ducks, young couples and even the Cambridge cows when they are there. I love to sit with a notebook or laptop, and feel inspired by the myriad of people coming past. You can also come here for a weekend drink in the summer, and it’s a great spot for a date.
Go here for: a rural escape in the city
Stay for: the fresh air and the views
Recommendation: come in the winter too, with a hot chocolate and a buddy
08Chill #2 — Station Square
Right by the train station, this one is good stop off for commuters or people hosting Londoners for meetings. Not only do they have three different kinds of hot chocolate (based on the percentage of the chocolate used) they do great coffee and even have a brunch menu. It’s also a very useful place, with large desk spaces, wireless charger ports, reliable wifi, and a screen showing live departures. Despite its functionality, the décor is cosy, with a mix of sofas, low chairs and communal desk space. It’s also open late, which is always a bonus.
Go here for: A pre-commute chill out
Stay for: the very good work space
Recommendation: go in the evening, for a nice quiet spot to catch up on emails
09The Courtyard Café at the Fitzwilliam Museum
This bright and airy space is a great addition to the already wonderful Fitzwilliam Museum. Aside from the incredible artefacts, I come here because it has great natural light and hearty soup and sandwiches. You can park up here, have a Duke of Cambridge (a lovely fruit based pastry) and get on with your work. If you need a break you can take a wonder around the galleries. My favourite is the armoury, where they have every kind of sword you can picture in Game of Thrones. The conservators and curators often hold meetings in there, which makes for some really interesting eavesdropping too. It’s a pretty awe-inspiring place to be, and the coffee’s not too bad either.
Go here for: inspiration
Stay for: really good cakes
Recommendation: peruse the gift shop, which always has some unique and cool things
10The Garden Kitchen at the Botanic Gardens
This is a favourite of mine when I’m getting a craving for green space. It feels very calming to walk through the trees, plants and ponds to get to the Garden Kitchen. They also have a branch on Mill Road, which is a great lunch spot too. When you get there the food is great. Soups, salads, pies and cakes all locally made and fresh. They have a wide drink selection, with some unusual soft drinks I have only ever seen there. They have lovely covered outdoor seating, where you can smell all the unusual foliage surrounding you. It gets busy on a weekend, but weekdays you can usually park up for hours. As a bonus, they also do great events throughout the year, live music and the famous Apple Day.
Go here for: green and open spaces
Stay for: a walk around the tropical greenhouses, trust me
Recommendation: the sausage rolls, both meat and veggie are really good