Since I’ve started working for myself, and like many others who are self-employed, I’ve started frequenting Leeds’ coffee shops and cafés a lot more. I put a fair amount of thought into which of Leeds’ coffee shops and cafés I visit, as supporting small, independent businesses is high on my agenda.
As a result, you’re unlikely to find me in a Starbucks, Costa or Caffè Nero. Here’s my guide to Leeds’ best coffee shops and cafés, based in the city centre.
For even more café recommendations, take a look at the Leeds Feeds ebook by Leeds Food Tours (shameless plug, this is my own business).
It’s packed full of recommendations of independent cafés, pubs and restaurants, pubs, PLUS there are loads of recipes, cooking tips and stories from my favourite venues and chefs.
The Tiled Hall Cafe – Leeds’ Most Charming Coffee Shop
The Tiled Hall Cafe is one of my favourite spots in Leeds to get some work done or enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of cake with a friend. Located in the same building as Leeds Central Library and Leeds Art Gallery, this space originally functioned as a reading room for the library.
High ceilings and plenty of light create a spacious, airy environment, whilst grand marble columns, thousands of colourful tiles and gold details on the ceiling make the space feel more like a room in a palace than one of Leeds’ coffee shops. There are several brown leather sofas to sink into, but I prefer to sit by the window, taking advantage of the natural light and the world passing by outside whilst I work. The only negative is that the toilets are in the library and quite a trek to reach!
There are several things I love about IF Coffee-Bar: the breakfast burritos (they’re the ultimate hangover cure and will keep you going all day), the gorgeous decor featuring plenty of plants, the variety of seating spaces (more on this in a moment), the friendly staff, and the fact that you can enjoy a cheeky glass of Prosecco if you don’t fancy a coffee or want to celebrate the end of a hard day’s work!
The space is fantastic – you can enjoy the buzz of the cafe and take advantage of multiple plug points and natural light at the front, you can cosy up in a couple of comfortable ‘snugs’ at the back, or you can head upstairs for larger tables and a great view over Call Lane. IF Coffee-Bar is definitely one of Leeds’ best coffee shops, and I’ll casually mention that they do a bottomless brunch too!
Mrs Atha’s is a family run Leeds coffee shop with a focus on using good quality produce with traceable provenance. The coffee is great, and the sandwiches are even better!
The only negative for me is that the counter is right by the door, designed so that you have to order before finding a seat. I’d prefer to sit down and browse the menu first, but it’s certainly not a deal breaker for me and it remains one of the best coffee shops in Leeds in my opinion.
Teapot – Tea or Coffee
I love ‘Teapot – Tea or Coffee‘ for their huge range of loose leaf teas (over 100 of them!), their ultra-smooth coffee using self-roasted coffee beans and their delectable cakes. The team are passionate about traveling the globe in the name of tea research, but they also pride themselves on keeping things small and local. All teas are handpicked, custom blended and brewed at optimum temperature with the highest level of care. You can also buy loose tea leaves and organic coffee to take home with you, either from the café or online.
I recently tried their Yorkshirecinno which actually put Teapot to the top of my list when it comes to Leeds’ coffee shops. This consists of a double espresso base, equal parts of Yorkshire Tea and Yorkshire cocoa, a touch of cream and frothy milk. Pure indulgence!
I also love ‘Teapot – Tea or Coffee’ because of it’s location in Leeds Kirkgate Market, which is probably my favourite place in Leeds. In fact, I’ve written a whole blog post about why I love Kirkgate Market, which you can read here. This is one of my favourite coffee shops in Leeds, especially if I’m in the mood for tea or taking a break from food shopping in the market.
Wapentake – The Most ‘Yorkshire’ Coffee Shop in Leeds
Wapentake is a café, pub and bakery designed to create a little piece of Yorkshire. Although I think of Wapentake as more of a pub than a café in that they serve up local beers, Yorkshire puddings (and Yorkshire pudding burgers!), and crisp butties, they absolutely function as a café too.
They focus on all things local, with coffee from a family-run company in Skipton called Coffee Care, tea from Taylors of Harrogate and all cakes are baked on site. I love Wapentake so much that I’ve included it in one of my food tours! If you want to find out more about these, have a read of this blog post.
I’d been meaning to try Wolfox for many months, and finally got round to it this week. The space is huge and, although there are a lot of tables, it doesn’t feel overcrowded in the slightest. Several mirrored walls make the space seem even larger! The decor is modern and well-considered, with navy blue walls creating a contrast against light wood and a marble effect floor. There are so many lovely touches throughout, from plants to the beautiful crockery.
The coffee is organic and locally-roasted and they also serve up organic juices, smoothies and plant-based (as well as non-plant based) brunch dishes. They create their coffee experience through the principles of taste, quality, sustainability and organic, but my favourite thing about the coffee was the teddy bear coffee art.
The food is quite expensive, but actually it’s worth the money! Choose your bread base (I went for charcoal vegan bread) and your dish – I went for bacon and avocado which is served with poached eggs and a touch of chilli. I’m allergic to avocado so I swapped that out for a portion of baked beans, which were beautifully sweet and silky. The only downside it that there are hardly any plug points, so if you’re going to this Leeds’ coffee shop at a busy time and hope to get some work done, then make sure you’ve charged beforehand!
This is the perfect Sunday morning breakfast spot. Rather than being your trendy, modern coffee shop, it’s a traditional café with smooth, Italian coffee and the ultimate bacon sandwiches – think plenty of crispy bacon on freshly baked focaccia bread.
All the food here is great in taste and portion size, along with the milkshakes and the cakes, and you’ll always get the friendliest service. It’s not really the kind of café I’d go and work in, but I’d definitely spend a lazy weekend morning in there eating my way through the menu at this Leeds coffee shop.
It’s not just it’s close proximity to the train station that makes Laynes Espresso one of the most popular coffee shops in Leeds. They have one of the best breakfast menus (you need to have the pancakes with caramel banana, espresso mascarpone and chocolate) and some of the best cakes in the city, but their focus remains on providing the best quality cup of coffee that they can. Laynes is barista owned and run, and it definitely shows.
There’s not much more to say about this place, other than it’s just a great quality Leeds coffee shop and that next time you’re picking up a coffee on your way to the station, go here rather than Starbucks or Caffè Nero inside the station!
North Star Coffee Roasters
If you’re really into your coffee, you absolutely must visit North Star Coffee Roasters. It’s a café based at Leeds Dock, which means that you can ride the water taxi to get there, and they serve coffee that’s roasted on site. There are two contrasting espresso options, seasonal filter coffees and sometimes even micro lots that you won’t find anywhere else.
I haven’t eaten here before, but I’ve promised myself that this will be my next working spot and I’ll be making sure to try their incredible looking brunch offering. North Staff Coffee Roasters also have an academy for those who would like to learn barista skills, sensory skills and more, and their store sells freshly roasted coffee, which can be ground on site if preferred, along with loose leaf teas and single origin hot chocolate.
Out of The Woods
Out of the Woods have two locations, one in Granary Wharf and the other just a few minutes walk away on Water Lane. I usually frequent the Granary Wharf venue, and particularly love how small and cosy it is in there! Although small, the walls are glass, looking out onto Granary Wharf, so it’s beautifully light in there. I absolutely love sitting in the window, watching the world go by.
The coffee is incredibly smooth, the brownies are rich and gooey, and the sandwiches and smoothies are great too. The only downside is that they don’t have a toilet in the Granary Wharf location, so you have to go next door to the Double Tree Hotel.
Cafe 164 is set within The Gallery at 164, so you can tie a trip to this Leeds coffee shop with a browse around the latest exhibition! It’s a great spot for lunch, selling sandwiches (not just your run-of-the-mill ones either!), soups and salads but also a hot special which is constantly changing.
Their bread is hand mixed, hand shaped and hand cut and they have an onsite focaccia and ciabatta bakery. They serve a range of loose leaf teas and make a great coffee, and you’ll often get to try something new as they serve guest blends from northern coffee roasters. Basically, it’s a great Leeds coffee shop where care and consideration go into everything they do.
Haute Dolci – Leeds’ Most Instagrammable Coffee Shop
I discovered Haute Dolci recently by total accident. I was actually intending to spend a couple of hours in the Tiled Hall Cafe (see above) but it was closed for a private event, so I wandered into The Light centre and spotted this pink, flowery, instagram-perfect wonderland! Haute Dolci has eight locations, so it’s a much larger operation that the other Leeds’ coffee shops I’ve included here, but it’s so pretty that I just had to include it.
I would say it’s more of a dessert restaurant than a coffee shop, serving up the most elegant looking desserts, but I had a cappuccino and a couple of macarons which were intensely sweet (in a good way). There are several luxurious and spacious booths, but I sunk into a comfortable, pink, velvety chair, perfectly positioned next to a rose gold plug point so that I could catch up on some work.
Haute Dolci is not only very pink, its also complete with a flower wall, an entire flower dining room, an instagram swing and beautiful floral decorations throughout. The only thing I would say is that the level of service didn’t live up to the luxurious interior and the elegant food & drink offering.
So there you have it, my twelves favourite coffee shops in Leeds city centre. There are of course plenty more wonderful places to get your caffeine fix such as Just Grand Vintage Tea Room, The Arch Café, Flamingos and Sheaf Street Cafeteria… but I can’t include them all!
If you’d like to read about more places to eat and drink in Leeds, then give these posts a click:
- Workshop: The Most Creative Café in Leeds
- The Best Restaurants in Leeds City Centre
- How to Eat Like a Local in Leeds City Centre
- Blue Sakura: The Best Sushi In Leeds?
- Where to Find the Best Sushi in Leeds
- The Man Behind the Curtain: A Review
- You might also enjoy this monster post about 67 thing to do in Leeds City Centre!