I am a complete coffee snob. I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, the coffee snob capital of the world. Starbucks failed in Melbourne. We were ordering flat whites in the 1990s. There is no such thing as bad coffee in central Melbourne because the standard is so high. In addition to being a coffee snob, I LOVE my coffee.
So when travelling I always do my research about the best coffee options. I like to think I can spot a good cafe based on its font and look from a mile away. The more industrial looking the better. The cuter and chintzier the worse the coffee in my experience. Coffee is serious and I normally find serious looking coffee shops produce better coffee.
Anyway, I was a little concerned when it came to Exeter Cafes. I was very worried that I would be facing only milky lattes with scalding milk when I asked for a flat white. Having no choice but to order an Americano with a side of hot milk as that was the least bad option. I was having coffee-mares before the trip imagining that giant scalding milkshake of a latte.
My concerns were unfounded. Thank goodness for the spread of the coffee snob and hipster! Exeter had loads of fantastic coffee options within walking distance of the cathedral. Ideally, I like some eggs with hollandaise sauce with my anal coffee if it is pre 11 am – then into cakey things – then a nice soup and salad lunch to balance.
The goal was to find the best Exeter Cafes based on the quality of their coffee – and where there is good coffee there is almost always good food to follow.
Exeter Cafes – How to get to Exeter
Exeter is the second biggest city after Plymouth in Devon. Exeter is an international airport so it is possible to fly their directly from many cities in Europe.
And if you’re heading to Exeter don’t miss the lovely town Exmouth – or my post on Exmouth Boat Trip & Other Great Adult Things to do in Exmouth
1. Exeter Cafes Glorious Art House
By far the most instagrammable of the Exeter Cafes as well as serving great coffee is Glorious Art House. This wonderfully colourful cafe sprawls over three levels and is filled with arty bits and pieces. There is even a cute little reading nook! Just up from the ground floor is a lovely outdoor patio where you can enjoy your coffee.
Glorious Art House is well known for its waffles and cakes so this is definitely for when you are having a sweet craving. It’s not just high-fat options as they also do greek yoghurt, berries, granola etc.
There is an art gallery on the third floor and seating for coffee and food on the ground and first floors.
120 Fore Street
Outdoor Seating available
Dogs & Children Welcome
2. Cafes in Exeter Artigiano
Normally a high street location means bad coffee. However, I was happily proven wrong at the lovely Artigiano! It has been serving great coffee on the Exeter high street since 2014. It’s a big place but still cosy in feel – absolutely perfect as a place to work. And the coffee was excellent! Indeed my barista was going on to represent Artigiano at some type of impressive sounding Barista competition!
Artigiano could be my perfect place as it is focussed on coffee until 5 pm and then it turns into a wine bar! It also has some excellent food. Very very tasty looking cakes and treats. I ate breakfast here. The menu was a great mix of classics such as eggs benedict as well as some more fun options like crumpets and smashed avocado or American style pancakes.
I chose the Eggs Royale for a bit of healthy and naughty – and then increased the naughty quotient by adding in a side order of local sausages!
This is the perfect place to go for brunch or lunch with some fantastic coffee.
248 High Street Exeter
Gluten Free Options
3. Best Cafes Exeter The Exploding Bakery
My vote for the best coffee in Exeter is The Exploding Bakery. Now I like my flat white strong with a heavily roasted flavour so that is my criteria. You may have a different view. In my opinion, it also has the best name for any cafe – or potentially for anywhere – in Exeter.
It has a great location in the middle of town next to the local Exeter train station (eg for trains around the area vs trains to London etc which leave from Exeter St Davids. The business was started by two old school friends who were passionate about their coffee and their tray bake cakes (more of that later). They opened in 2011.
There is a rather large oven as well as a working area for that oven in the middle of the cafe. I really liked this – it was lovely to see items coming straight out of the oven and seeing cakes being prepared. Their cakes are rather delicious. I took four with me to be shared and all were excellent.
1 & 2 The Crescent
Outdoor Seating (although this is in the front and next to the station)
Vegan and Gluten Free Options
4. Tea On the Green
Tea On the Green is my winner for the best location of a cafe in Exeter. I can’t imagine a more prime precision! It is diagonally opposite the lovely Exeter Cathedral. There is outdoor seating on the pedestrianised square. It is a great spot to sit and drink coffee and people watch.
In cooler weather, the cafe also has a nice upstairs area – aim to get a seat by the window and you will have a warmer option for people watching! The food here is great – very much locally sourced and you can taste the difference. This is the place to come for a Cream Tea – they are served every day from 230pm.
2 Cathedral Close
Vegan and Gluten Free Options
5. March Coffee
March Coffee works with a local supplier for its very tasty coffee. However, its big point of difference is its delicious freshly made every morning homemade doughnuts – which come in all sorts of delicious flavours.
Brunch is served Friday-Sunday.
87 South Street
6. The Plant Cafe
The Plant Cafe is also located on Cathedral Yard but on the other side from Tea on the Green. This is a completely vegetarian cafe and it also caters for others with dietary restrictions. Everything is homemade on site using local ingredients as much as possible. They also have a zero waste policy.
The food receives rave reviews as does the coffee.
1 Cathedral Yard
Outdoor Seating Options with a view of the Cathedral
Gluten Free Options Available
If you’d like to get a better feel for the 6 Best Exeter Cafes check out my Youtube Video:
And here are some other great foodie and drink things to do in and around Exeter:
Cheeses from the award-winning Quickes Farm are sold all around the world – even in my hometown Melbourne! We had a wonderful tour with the oh so interesting and inspiring lovely owner Mary Quickes. And then we very much enjoyed ourselves in the cheese shop! There was some tasting to be done (my favourite was the Vintage Cheddar), some cheese to be purchased and some other lovely local produce to check out.
The Gin Palace
On Friday nights in Exeter during warmer months several pop-ups well pop up after 5 pm! One of the most appealing is the Gin Palace. The team have done a great job creating a boutique feel under their tent. This is the home of Exeter Gin – a lovely tasting gin filled with botanicals from the area.
Don’t leave without trying what I think of as the Grandparent range! These gins are named after the owner’s grandparents. Granny Garbett apparently liked to get into a bit of trouble and loved her gin. Grandad’s Revenge is literally that! And don’t miss Grandad’s Allotment for some rhubarb flavoured gin!
Rendezvous Wine Bar
This independent wine bar and restaurant Rendezvous is tucked away in the lovely Southernhay area of Exeter. The food is local and the wines change regularly. They offer loads of different wines by the glass which I always appreciate.
I did love how they structured their wine list – this is the only wine bar I have ever visited that had a specific section for Full Bodied Complex White wines – which are my favourites!
The restaurant has a lovely cosy feel and it is a European style/local menu eg featuring the usual suspects of delicious sounding local versions of lamb, pork, steak etc. I enjoyed a very tasty steak and can highly recommend their thick cut chips.
Stables Exeter offers expert cider tastings. We tried about 8 different ciders – a mix of styles and sparkling and non-sparkling – and learnt a lot about how to make cider!
Harry’s is family owned and has all four daughters working in the restaurant! It is a much-loved spot by local’s and it is easy to see why. There is a lovely relaxed feel and a brilliant menu. I tried the steak fajitas which I highly recommend.
However, Harry’s is most famous for one thing – Harry’s Heart Attack dessert! This gigantic dessert – I am not sure that my photo does it justice – is filled with all things chocolate and vanilla and sweets and cream and a flake and and and! This is definitely one for sharing!
Exeter Brewery brews on site and has a bar called The Tap Room which is open every Thursday from 5pm-11pm. Well worth a visit if you enjoy a pint or three!
The Terrace Restaurant
The Terrace Restaurant is located on a rooftop which a fantastic outside area in the middle of Exeter. The menu is modern European and utilises local ingredients.
Boutique Hotels Exeter
A fantastic boutique hotel option is Southernhay House in Exeter. This independently owned townhouse has just 10 luxurious bedrooms and is located very close to the Exeter Cathedral. Luxury toiletries, first class beds and quality linen are all on offer. Southernhay House also has an excellent restaurant with a menu full of locally sourced and seasonal items. There is al fresco dining when the weather suits. Add to this an outstanding bar with a great cocktail menu and this is my kind of boutique hotel!
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Thanks very much to Visit GreatBritain and Visit Exeter for helping me to plan and sponsoring my trip to the lovely Exeter.
Also published on Medium.
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