Newcastle is well known for its beer. Less famous is its coffee and tea culture. Not only does the city have a long-established tea blender, Ringtons, but it also features a growing number of artisanal coffee roasters. Tea rooms and cafés are the new cool places to meet.
Not far from Newcastle Central Station, in a quiet, pedestrianised street, is The Settle Down Café. It is noted for its cappuccinos, cakes and sourdough breads, the latter made at a nearby bakery. The walls of its bright little rooms are covered with flyers advertising upcoming cultural events.
Bigger, but just as eclectic, is Café 1901, a five-minute metro ride from the city centre. The former Methodist church hall is cluttered with vintage furnishings. You’ll find business people, students and even reading groups happily mingling here. The flat whites and lemon meringue pie are highly recommended.
Tea rooms with a view
If you’re into tea, you’ll love Quilliam Brothers Tea House, which has more than 60 loose-leaf teas on the menu. As well as offering great people-watching opportunities through its huge windows, this place also hosts regular art-house film showings.
Sticking with the film theme, the Tyneside Coffee Rooms is a fine example of a 1930s “cinema café”. Part of the Tyneside Cinema, it has kept its art deco styling. Go for nostalgia and order a poached egg on toast along with your tea.
If you fancy afternoon tea, take a trip to Jesmond Dene House, a hotel 10 minutes from Newcastle centre. This is serious stuff, with a tiered plate stand of sandwiches, scones and cakes, plus a choice of loose-leaf teas. The Garden Room and terrace have views over the trees of Jesmond Dene park.
Cool hot spots
Local roaster Ouseburn Coffee Co. has its own café, Harvest. It is a cool, white space preparing creative salads and mean, bitter coffee. The big tables are great for spreading out papers if you want to work.
Central but off the main drag, behind the Grainger Market, Olive & Bean is easy to miss. However, those with a nose for all things Fair Trade and organic make it their favourite hang-out. Check out their huge home-made cakes, too.