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Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Aberdeen coffee scene

Coffee shops. Student saviour. Hipster hangout. Meet-up utopia. 

Every thriving city has to have a wide selection of coffee shops, or there would be complete chaos. Students wouldn't be able to function without their caffeine, hipster's would resort to annoying the general public with their pretentious remarks and friends would struggle to think of where they should meet-up with each-other, or what they should do when they do.

Okay, that might have been slightly hyperbolic, but the statement still stands: a good selection of coffee shops is essential for a city. 

As my favourite coffee shop has recently closed down (R.I.P. Tinderbox Aberdeen), I thought I'd try to educate everyone, including myself, about the many coffee spots that you can visit whilst in Aberdeen.

Multiple stores


I don't care if they are the epitome of commercialisation, they make a damn good coffee.

Because of my obsessive love for Starbucks, I've been to every single one of their stores in Aberdeen. As a result, I can rank them, best to worst:
  1. Starbucks Union Street (208 Union Street, close to the Music Hall)
  2. Starbucks St Nicholas Centre (Unit E9(b), close to the Perfume shop and Marks & Spencer)
  3. Starbucks Upperkirkgate (2&4, close to Aberdeen college and the Bon Accord centre)
  4. Starbucks Holburn Junction (496 Union Street, close to Subway)
  5. Starbucks Union Square (MC2 first floor level, close to Sony)
Union Street is my regular, the staff are lovely and they make the best coffee out of all the Aberdeen stores in my honest opinion. The atmosphere is cosy and when it comes to the cold Winter months, there's nowhere else I'd rather be.

The St Nicholas Centre make fantastic coffee, and it's a handy place to go if you want to grab a cup on the go, but they only have one or two places to sit upstairs, and downstairs has no natural light.

Upperkirkgate has such an adorable atmosphere, and that, along with the fact that it is the closest Starbucks to Aberdeen college, means that it is usually overrun with students. If you're lucky enough to grab a seat however, it's a great place to sit and chat.

Holburn Junction is not really the handiest of places to get to. It's right on the top of Union Street, meaning that lazy people simply cannot be bothered walking up to get to it. The layout can be quite dark and feel cramped at times too, which is never good.

Union Square's Starbucks is probably the most disappointing when it comes to making coffee. It's the handiest location out of all of them, considering that it is right beside the train station and is in Aberdeen's busiest shopping centre. The location comes at a price however: it's always busy. Long waiting times, and rushed cups of coffee are the result of this.


I have a beef with Costa. They once tried to refuse me and my friend service after we had been waiting in line late at night for ten minutes. They served the adult in front of us before trying to turn us away, telling us that they had closed. Did they think that they can just refuse teenagers service because we're less important than the rest of their paying customers? My friend told them that we had been waiting for as long as the rest of the people before us, and we deserved to be served. We got served, but I haven't bought a coffee from them since. 

Moral of the story? Don't buy coffee from Costa Union Square.
  1. Costa Bon Accord Centre
  2. Costa The Academy (Unit 15)
  3. Costa at Waterstones (3-7 Union Bridge, Trinity Centre)
  4. Costa Union Square
  5. Costa Cults (2-3 The Courtyard)
There's more places that you can get Costa, but I'm not counting Costa expresses in this list.

Cafe Nero:
  1. Cafe Nero Union Street (160-162 Union Street)
  2. Cafe Nero Rose Street (452-456 Union Street)
Pret a Manger:
  1. Pret a Manger Bon Accord Centre
  2. Pret a Manger (234 Union Street)

Independent stores

Close to/in Union Square:

Muffin Break (2 East Mall, Union Square)
The Streat (6 East Mall, Union Square)
Peckham's  (6 The Atrium, Union Square)
The Union Bar (Jurys Inn)
Cocoa (11 Market Street)
210 Bistro (210 South Market Street)
Carmelite Hotel  (Stirling Street)
Cafe 52 (52 The Green)
At The Arches (37 South College street)
Leading Lights Cafe (Aberdeen Maritime Museum)

Close to/in Bon Accord and St Nicholas centres:

Pret a Manger
Di Maggios
The Place to Eat (John Lewis) 
Espresso bar (John Lewis)
Aroma (235 George Street)
The City (37-39 Netherkirkgate)
Provest Skene's House Tearoom (Provest Skene's House)

Close to/on Union Street

Music Hall cafe
Starbucks (x2)
Cafe Nero (x2)
Pret a Manger
The Victoria (140 Union Street)
Charles Michies cafe (391 Union Street)
Rosie Thistle's Tea Room (31 Thistle Street)
Cafe Roza (100 Holburn Street)
Cafe Crema (123 Holburn Street)

Close to/on Belmont Street

MacBeans (2 Little Belmont Street)
Cup (9 Little Belmont Street)
Kilau coffee (9A Little Belmont Street) (Now closed)
The Beautiful Mountain (11-13 Belmont Street)
Books and Beans (22 Belmont Street)

Close to His Majesty's Theatre:

1906 (Rosemount Viaduct)
Aberdeen Art Gallery's cafe (Aberdeen Art Gallery)
Bite Me (73-75 Skene Street)

Close to the beach:

Cafe Coast (Beach Boulevard, charitable enterprise)
Inversneckie Cafe (Beach Esplanade)
Sand Dollar Cafe (2 Beach Esplanade)
Washington Cafe (3-4 Beach Esplanade)
The Pavilion Cafe (5-6 Beach Esplanade)

On Rosemount Place

Rosie's Cafe (137 Rosemount Place, charitable organisation)
Clover Cafe (191 Rosemount Place)
Dulcia (279 Rosemount Place)

A random selection from all around Aberdeen
Characters Cafe Bar (43 Regent Quay)
Circles of Mannofield (569 Great Western road)
Gateway at the Credo (14-20 John Street)
Little Rembrants Cafe (126 Crown Street)
Tree House Coffee Shop (3 Whitehall Road)
The Poppy Seed Deli (27 Ellon Road)
Cults Cafe (Unit 12, The Courtyard)

Give me a shout if any of these have shut down or if I have missed out any cafes that you know of!


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  2. Thank you for this, Very detailed. Might try out the ones closest to Aberdeen College as I'm starting soon :)