We like our coffee at gofurther. So, with some of the country’s largest coffee chains in hot water for their failure to pay tax, we thought it was a great time to celebrate the great independent coffee bars in the far north.
Luckily for us, you won’t find a Starbucks or a Costa or a Cafe Nero or a Pret in the Northwest Highlands (or Skye for that matter). But you will find a range of cafes that do great coffee and care about how it arrives on your table. Here is our list of some of the best coffee venues – the best places to hide on rainy days or to visit for a caffiene fix after a long day at the crag or on the mountain. Most of them are in the Northwest but we’ve picked a few that may be worth a visit as you travel on the A9.
The Bridge Cottage Cafe and Gallery – Poolewe
A small but beautiful cafe in the coastal village just a few minutes from some of the best sport and trad climbing in Scotland. No espresso machine – but great filtered coffee with free top-ups and fantastic cakes.
Eilean Donan Castle – Kintail
A huge cafe at this popular tourist venue but an incredible location and a surprisingly good coffee selection. The relaxed and comfortable seating makes up for the espresso-based cups which may not be strong enough for some.
The Aroma Cafe – The Perfume Studio – Mellon Charles near Aultbea
This 5 star venue makes it onto our list for the combination of stunning views, cakes, nice atmosphere and coffee. The building also hosts the Image Studio which organises photography workshops and seminars.
Corner on the Square – Tiso’s outdoor shop, Inverness
These people know how to make a coffee. Organised by the people who run Corner on the Square cafe in Beauly. Not always consistently perfect, but you can usually depend on a great Cappucino – big ‘normal’ size and served strong, with a complimentary mint chocolate. Great place to relax on your way through the town or while you browse for more gear.
Ralia Cafe – on the A9 near Newtonmore
The A9 is not a great place to be but any journey is made bearable with a Ralia coffee. Always great with beautiful sandwiches made on the spot. Free wi-fi. Locally baked bread. They also do coffee to go if you are in a rush. Puts your average service station to shame. If you have to be on the A9 – make it worthwhile.
Leakey’s Bookshop – Inverness town centre
Based in the town’s old Gaelic Church, the cafe is perched at the top of an open spiral staircase overlooking one of the largest second-hand bookshops in the UK which surrounds a gigantic wood-burning stove. They also do great soup.
Na Mara Restaurant – Gairloch
Great coffee, great cakes, incredible ice cream. This place also does a brilliant deal on fish and chips before 6pm.
Nice venue with local produce and crafts on the Eastern side of Ross-shire.
The best combination of consistently good coffee in a relaxed cafe with awesome fresh scones (especially around 10am when they are just out the oven), music, a bookshop to browse, free wi-fi and a great daytime menu. It is also open into the evening so you can still get there after a full day out.
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