Kaity McCafferty gives her take on the best places in St Andrews to grab coffee, brunch – or schedule a date.
I love cafés, probably a bit too much considering how much time and money I spend in them. So I was pleased to find that despite St Andrews having only three main streets, it boasts a variety of cafés. As they are all so different, I feel it impossible to order them in terms of best to worst, because each one of them is great in their own way! And so, I organise my guide not by quality but by what I consider each café’s individual strength.
Best coffee – Zest
Jumping straight in with the most contested title. Unlike the rest of this article, this is not an opinion but a fact. Zest café has the best coffee in St Andrews, hands down. Full stop. If you think I’m wrong then fight me, I’ll be on the pier at midnight of the next full moon waiting for you.
Apart from amazing coffee, Zest also has truly wonderful and friendly staff. I’m also a big fan of their soups which are very tasty indeed. However, despite Zest’s reliable Wi-Fi, it’s not my favourite place to sit in. That title would have to go to…
Best vibe – Taste
Second in the coffee rankings but second to none in vibe, a few minutes in Taste is enough to make me want to shave my hair off and change my degree to philosophy. If the stars align and you score a seat in this tiny café, it’s a delight to sit down and enjoy the artsy atmosphere while sipping away on a hot beverage and digging in to a lovely baked good. A Taste croissant has, on occasion, been enough to being me back from the dead.
That said, Taste is just about the only place I’ve ever felt like I’ve had to bring reading to. To fit in, I try and read a classic novel like the rest of the clientele instead of browsing social media like a sane human being. I’m also very intimidated by the staff, but mostly because they are very cool and I am very not.
Best place to study – Rector’s café
Taste has a special place in my heart but isn’t exactly practical. Reasonably priced, bright and large, Rector’s is the better café to study in. Especially now that extra plug sockets have been installed, and there is much less of a cutthroat competition for those seats (the Rectors regulars will know exactly which ones I’m referring to). As it is a part of the Students Union this café is supplied with eduroam, and while we may all have our bone to pick with that particular network, it is a relief to be able to access academic journals without working through 15 login pages.
Best place for a first date – Old Union Coffee Shop
You hit it off on Tinder, Bumble or maybe even at the Union (if the latter I am very impressed). Now you want to go on your first date, but you want to keep it low key and meet in a safe and neutral location. The sister café of Rectors is the perfect solution as it has reliable seating and is nice but not too fancy. Old Union is the perfect environment for getting to know someone and figuring out if you want to take them on that all important second date. If it doesn’t go so well it’s also very easy to play the ‘I’m so sorry I have to run to the library/class’ card for a speedy exit. If it goes terribly, your phone should already be connected to Eduroam should you need to send a cheeky ‘HELP’ text to one of your friends.
Best Breakfast – North Point
Maybe your date went really well, and in that case open early in the morning with a variety of options, North Point is a great spot to go for breakfast. While their truly mind-blowing pancakes are well known (and for good reason), I daresay that I am very partial to a bagel with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. Despite how indulgent a North Point breakfast feels, their prices are actually very reasonable.
Best Brunch and Lunch – Bibi’s
I’m very fond of this café because it shares a name with my dog, but also because it serves great brunch and lunch options. Leaning more towards the savoury end of the spectrum, Bibi’s offers a number of good quality salads and sandwiches. I also happen to know that they can serve prosecco with your brunch should you choose. I found this out when the last time I visited there were a couple of guys on the table next to me doing so and I almost died with envy. Unfortunately, I am barely able to afford fabric softener never mind brunch-bubbly. Should you feel inclined to purchase me some prosecco please do not hesitate to do so.
Best cakes – Gorgeous
Should you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, this is the place to go. I only need to walk past their window display to start salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs. I think the scones from Gorgeous might be what true love tastes like. Homemade fresh every day these scones are delightful and my favourite way to treat myself after accomplishing the most minor of tasks. Their other cakes and pastries I believe are also homemade and scrumptious. If you feel like an extra treat you can sit in as, this café has a charming vintage interior and table service.
Best hidden gem – Golf Museum Café
Did you know this cafe existed? I certainly didn’t until a few months ago. Situated above the Golf Museum this café is spacious and has stunning panoramic views of the North Sea. It also has very nice coffee with a selection of cakes (and gluten free options for all my coeliac friends!). More upscale price wise but a great spot all the same.
Best overall – Cottage Kitchen
I never regret a trip to Cottage Kitchen as it is just about perfect for just about any occasion. Food? Sorted, there’s a good menu. Cake? There’s a fantastic selection and they are delicious. Outside seating is available for when the temperature is anywhere above 10 degrees, cosy inside seating when you’ve resigned yourself to the reality of Scottish weather. All your bases are covered. Very decent coffee and an excellent tea. What more could you want?
If you’d like to contribute to our revamped Food section you can get in touch with out Food Editor Fiona McNevin at email@example.com
Kaity McCafferty can be found in any of the above cafés and welcomes lively debate on the topic of which is your favourite.
The views about where the best coffee in St Andrews is to be found are not necessarily shared by The Tribe‘s editorial team.