The vibrant city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne is known for its nightlife, its numerous bridges, its distinctive “Geordie” accent, and of course, brown ale. But if you prefer your beverages hot and caffeinated, you will not be disappointed with this northern city’s diverse and growing coffee culture.
Whether you are just visiting Newcastle, or already live here and are after a new place to get your coffee, there is no lack of great cafes in the city. There are also several roasteries based in the North East region, including Ouseburn Coffee Co., Tynemouth Coffee, Pink Lane, and longstanding classic Pumphreys. Furthermore, the many cafes and coffee shops in the area are varied in their atmospheres and approaches, resulting in a unique coffee scene and a lack of overt competitiveness. Newcastle offers everything from cozy hangouts with a focus on local produce, to sleek, minimalist, Aussie-inspired multi-roasters.
The locations of the shops included in this guide show that wherever you are in Newcastle, you are never too far from a decent cup of coffee. Whether you are exploring the shops of Northumberland Street, in the quiet suburb of Heaton or exploring contemporary art across the river in Gateshead’s BALTIC gallery, there is an excellent barista somewhere in the vicinity.
Pink Lane Coffee
Anyone visiting Newcastle by train is lucky enough to have Pink Lane to greet them almost as soon as they step out of Central Station. Conveniently located on the eponymous cobbled lane, the shop has been open since 2012.
Pink Lane is recognizable by a copper sign adorning the exterior. Inside, you place your order at a simple white and grey tiled bar, garnished by a range of cakes (and often donuts!) and lined with white metal bar stools. The walls are adorned with illustrations including a coffee-sipping badger. The shop has plenty of smaller tables, popular with laptop-users, as well as some larger spaces and a much-Instagrammed pink neon sign towards the back.
The shop offers a range of filter brews, as well as the usual array of espresso-based choices and other hot drinks. Despite being a multi-roaster shop, Pink Lane is known for the coffee produced by its very own roastery. Using responsibly-sourced beans from around the globe that are roasted on the lighter side, this roastery produces stunning, unique coffee favored by baristas for miles around. The company has been known to support new and local businesses and is, perhaps, the highlight of Newcastle’s independent coffee scene.
There is no shortage of cafes in Heaton—a suburb popular with students and families—but BLK stands out. This place would be easy to underestimate, not least due to its compact size. However, visit BLK and you will see that it is well worth straying from the center of town for. I have never had a coffee from BLK which I could fault, and it is clear that effort goes into every drink.
While many of Newcastle’s coffee shops are understandably loyal to local roasteries, it is refreshing that BLK has chosen to go the multi-roaster route. During a recent visit, the espresso on offer was Round Hill Roastery’s Costa Rica Unit Fourteen, while the range of filter offerings included Has Bean’s Ethiopia Tadess Roba (v60) as well as options for Kalita and AeroPress. Past guests have included beans from Berlin’s Five Elephant.
The minimal-styled shop has just a few seats and offers a small range of cakes and pastries. However, if you choose not to sit in, there are worse ways to spend a sunny afternoon than strolling through leafy Heaton Park and exploring Chillingham Road’s quirky shops with a perfectly poured flat white in hand.
* As of July 1, BLK has become Brew & Bite and has expanded its food offerings.
Located above Start Fitness on the city center’s Market Street, Camber Coffee [no relation to Camber Coffee in Bellingham, WA] is the definition of a hidden gem. Once you reach the stairs through rails of fitness gear and sportswear, you will find yourself rewarded by a spacious cafe with friendly staff.
Camber seems to have found the halfway point between minimalist and cozy, embellishing their tables with books and plants without creating a cluttered feel. With its generous seating and laid-back atmosphere, it is the ideal place for larger groups to meet up. Framed cycling jerseys adorn the walls, but you might just forget that you are in a fitness store once seated.
Camber offers a simple coffee menu, focusing on espresso-based drinks. The beans come exclusively from Pilgrims Coffee of Holy Island, showing their loyalty to local providers. Pilgrims is a small, rural roastery offering seasonal, sustainable, and ethically-sourced products. Camber’s food is all vegetarian and/or vegan. A new menu was recently introduced, and the kitchen now offers regular specials such as a black bean udon noodle bowl.
Despite being hidden in plain sight, Camber’s unusual location is a big draw, making it the ideal sanctuary from the crowds of shoppers in nearby Eldon Square.
Backyard Bike Shop
By the River Brew Co opened in 2018 in Gateshead, just across the Tyne from Newcastle. Identifying as a “creative container community,” the waterside complex includes a street food market, a microbrewery and concept restaurant Träkol. In amongst all of this is Backyard Bike Shop, which has the capacity to both fix your bike and serve you some of the best coffee either side of the river.
The atmosphere is cozy and welcoming with a slight rustic edge. The space doubles as a cocktail bar by night, but during the day you can sit back with a coffee and enjoy a view of either the lively scene over the Tyne or the warm bike workshop, complete with fireplace. The container complex is a short walk away from cultural hotspots, including the famed BALTIC contemporary art center.
Backyard Bike Shop sources its beans from Pink Lane, and the coffee is consistently good. During my recent visit, the espresso was a creamy Peru Cajamarca San Ignacio, while the filter option was the floral Ethiopia Adado. A brunch menu consistent with the warm interior features dishes such as ricotta pancakes with berries and walnuts. Patisserie-standard cakes are always available too.
Laneway & Co
Laneway & Co is a small but significant addition to Newcastle’s range of coffee shops. Hidden away down a quiet cobbled street, this shop mingles with a range of independent stores and restaurants including vintage store Retro and gin-drinker’s paradise Pleased to Meet You. This street certainly stands out in a city largely dominated by big-name brands.
In addition to its location, Laneway’s stylish white and wooden interior and laid-back soundtrack make for a relaxed spot to grab a coffee. They are laptop-friendly and the staff could not be more welcoming or knowledgeable. There are impressive cakes, pastries and several breakfast choices to enjoy. The house espresso is from Allpress and the filter options are usually via the excellent Origin.
Also Worth Visiting
This homey bar is based in the artistic Ouseburn area of Newcastle. The unique, quirky decor is clearly heavily influenced by Star Wars and it serves up some of the best brunch in the city. However, it is also a great place to grab a coffee, with beans from local roasters Ouseburn Coffee Company (OCC).
Established in 1750, Pumphreys is by far the longest-established roastery in Newcastle. This family business offers training, equipment, and wholesale beans, but also has a “coffee centre and brewing emporium” located in the city’s indoor Grainger Market. While their beans are generally roasted a lot darker than those you would find in many third-wave shops, Pumphreys is certainly dedicated to the trade and are the beans of choice for cafes and tearooms all over the North East.
Emily Bolt is a freelance journalist and coffee professional in Newcastle. This is Emily Bolt’s first feature for Sprudge.
Source: Coffee News