Amidst the towering cathedral, the rushing river Exe, steep hills, and unique architecture paved with cobblestone paths, the English city of Exeter is home to an array of down-to-earth cafes and coffee shops. Here’s a guide to some of our favorites.MoreLess
Situated just outside of Exeter Central Station, this lovely and warming cafe welcomes you with smells of baking bread and melting cheese. The shelves here are filled with homemade pickles, antiques, recipe books, and natural wines. The perfect order here includes a cup of batch brew, a toastie, and maybe a delicious apricot flapjack. For excellent coffee and bread in Exeter, make this your first stop.
Exeter's well-known thoroughfare, Fore Street, is home to Crank House Coffee, a specialty roaster with a dedicated cafe space next door called 130 Basement. The cafe is new on the scene, opened in 2020, but already feels lived in and full of life, along with plants, wooden furniture, and beautiful art. Roasting and baking are done in-house and the baristas are some of the city’s very best. A wonderful place to be if you’re a coffee lover.
Sacred Grounds is a beautiful plant-based brunch cafe located in McCoy’s Arcade, and the vibe here is all about freshness. From the hanging plants to the plant-based menu and expertly prepared coffee, this shop has more or less perfected the vegan brunch experience. Don’t miss the cinnamon buns and stuffed waffles, both perfect to pair with coffees roasted by locals like Tiverton’s Roastworks Coffee and Crank House.
Elsewhere on Fore Street, you'll come across an old letterpress shop that was refurbished into a cafe in 2020. This is Press House, which today pulls dual duty as both a coffee shop and a working letterpress firm, creating original cards and stationery of exquisite detail and craftsmanship. Press House takes a similarly careful approach to specialty coffee beverages, served in handmade ceramics from the Peak District. You can feel a spark of creativity in everything they do here.
Situated just outside the city center, this sweet and small cafe and roastery offers a range of espresso-based beverages in addition to various filter options. All the coffees on offer here are roasted in-house, coffee bags and brewing materials line the shelves as you enter, and you’ll be greeted by a barista, ready to brew you something exquisite. EXE is widely regarded as one of the region’s best coffee roasters, with a high degree of care and attention paid to sourcing and roasting detail.
This venue offers a unique spin on the classic pairing of coffee and bagels—a common pleasure in, say, New York City, but found less often in Devonshire. The house coffee here sourced from Fire and Flow in Cheltenham, along with a bit of Crankhouse for filter coffees and guest espressos. The shop's espressos are pulled on their two-group La Marzocco Linea PB, and there’s filter coffee as well for takeaway.