Brighton's coffee landscape has evolved significantly since one of the UK’s first coffee specialists, Redroaster, set up shop in 2000. Since then we’ve seen the likes of Small Batch grow to gargantuan sizes, have savoured Eten + Drinken’s premium dark bar and and lusted after Bond St’s single origin espresso. 

We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to independent coffee shops in this fine city, Movehub’s Hipster index even ranked us as the most hipster city in the world, partly due to the sheer number of indy coffee shops that have taken stock here, so you can imagine it was a latte work trying to put this shortlist together. But we’ve done the grind, and without further ado present to you … Brighton & Hove’s best independent coffee shops. 

Marwood Bar & Coffeehouse

Ever wanted to know what taking tea in a junk shop would be like? Look no further. Every zany object from the Chewbacca head to the mannequin forearm for a door-knob has been carefully selected, as has the even zanier menu to match. Their “green eggs and ham” would make Dr Seuss proud - the green referring to the homemade pesto. Experimental cakes abound, from beetroot brownies to baked Oreo cheesecake. For the inner hippy, there’s always their fresh mint tea and hearty vegan selection. With a live music venue upstairs that appears to be furnished by somebody’s granny (but in a cool way) this is the place to be seen in Brighton. That is, if you can find it tucked away in its little nook on Ship Street.

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Eten + Drinken

Apparently, one in every five startup ideas are conceived on holiday. This rang true for John, founder of Eten + Drinken. The eureka moment for a Dutch corner caf struck him when visiting family in the Netherlands. So you can't say it wasn't born out of authenticity. These guys are really into their coffee, serving premium dark bar (dubbed PDB), it's a blend of central American arabica and robusta beans. Try one of the delicious Dutch sandwiches, brunch bites, cakes or Dutch specialties such as Kroketten and Bitterballen. Wholesome, authentic Dutch grub. There's a lot to be said for a friendly face in the morning, and service with a smile, and you won't be let down at The North Laine’s newest addition.

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The Coffee Counter

On the corner of Church Street and Portland Street sits The Coffee Counter, a hotspot for coffee lovers and toastie fanatics. First establishing themselves as real coffee artistes, owners Hayden and Steve expanded their offerings to the tempting veggie and vegan-friendly menu you’ll find there today. Inside this cosy joint you’ll find hand written chalk boards and local artists work adorning the walls, making it a great spot to go and relax with a cuppa and a snack. Their uber friendly team serve an amazing range of tasty brekkies, catering for carnivores or herbivores alike.

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The Longhouse Cafe

Opposite St Peters you’ll find a real cool little joint called The Longhouse Cafe. It’s 100% plant-based and has oodles of tasty menu options and a whole heap of charm. Sparse white walls paired with colourful artwork, a ceiling canopy of beautiful foliage from local indoor plant shop, Spiderplant, and vibrant miss-matched furniture make it an Instagrammer's dream. Now we must tell you about the cakes, if you’ve a sweet tooth you’re in for a real treat. Their raw snickers bars are insanely good, and there’s a daily changing selection of raw, organic and sugar free cakes to nibble with your mylky latte. Being advocates of local businesses, you’ll find loose leaf teas from Bluebird, Horsham Roastery Coffee and Glazed donuts. If you haven’t been yet, we’d recommend the ‘Notella’ pancakes on your first visit, we can guarantee you’ll be back for more.

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The Flour Pot Bakery

Flour Pot have three branches dotted around Brighton; our favourite is Sydney Street. Amongst all the hustle and bustle of Brighton, the combination of the minimalistic interior, gorgeously smooth coffee and freshly baked breads and pastries creates an instantly calming atmosphere. Flour Pot Bakeries are an exception to the chaos of coffee shops; they take time and effort to create the perfect experience, whether that be a quick morning espresso or a relaxed late-morning brunch. With its charming outside seating, it's the perfect place to take a pew, enjoy a flat white and watch the world go by.

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Black Mocha

For all manner of single origin decadence, Black Mocha - on the North Laine’s eastern fringe - might just be King Bean. An elegant symphony of sweet and savoury resonates right through this diminutive little café, starting with street level decor and concluding with a fine selection of premium eats and liquid treats. The Espresso, from Monmouth of London, is genuinely outstanding (thick, fruity and complex) and the cake curation is equally gilt-edged – those hoping to be seduced by divine vegan and gluten free fancies will not be disappointed (think salted peanut choccy slices; whets your whistle, doesn’t it). Raw craft chocolate is sold by the vibrant boxful to the left of the coffee counter, and – best of all – the café’s namesake beverage (a Black Mocha) is a straight-up treat. Put a couple of hours aside and percolate in Black Mocha - it’s up there with the creme de la crop.

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Cafe Plenty

Situated in the up-and-coming Preston Circus area, Café Plenty is a modern and refreshing addition to what was once a fairly run-down area. The café and micro-bakery is run by friends Mitch and Dan who are passionate about local produce and creating a real food experience. By using local suppliers including Brighton based Coffee@33 they are a truly local and sustainable café. Mitch is head baker, so every bread-based item in the cafe has been freshly baked on-site that day. Their impressive range of cakes and pastries are a feast for the eyes, making it nearly impossible not to snap one up. The large and stylish space is a charming place to sit with its exposed brickwork and high ceilings giving it a bright and spacious feel.

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The Plant Room

A relative newcomer to The Lanes is The Plant Room - a delicious veggie eatery hidden amongst a beautiful tropical paradise. This laid-back espresso bar serve up one of the world’s leading coffee roasters, Allpress, coffee connoisseurs come forth. As well as a heavenly selection of loose leaf teas from Brew Tea Co. All the indoor plants are supplied by Hi Cacti and if one those super cute spiky little numbers happens to catch your eye, you can purchase one or two to take home. Coffee and Cacti, what more could you want from your afternoon caffeine fix?!

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Presuming Ed

With an intriguing name and a fairly quirky atmosphere to match, Presuming Ed is one of Team Wriggle's favourite spots in Brighton. Offering a dreamy selection of lovingly roasted, ground and brewed coffee, as well as some cracking locally brewed beers – both on draft and to take away – Presuming Ed has got it all. If you're hungry then be sure to grab one of their freshly made toasted sarnies – perfect for filling a small hole at any time of day, whilst the range of homemade cakes are something truly special. The space itself is great – with laptop workstations (perfect for settling into with a nice cup of coffee for an afternoon's work), a massive, sun-flooded beer garden, and a revolving carousel of pop-up DIY shops and markets.

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44 Poets

Tucked away in the heart of Poet's Corner, Hove lies 44 Poets. Although these guys are fresh on the scene, they've already made a splash since landing a few short months ago, and have rapidly joined the ranks of Brighton and Hove's most hotly desired destinations for coffee lovers. Passionate about top quality coffee, 44 Poets' blend of choice is Red Brick, roasted by the award-winning Square Mile Coffee Roasters. In the skilful hands of the 44 Poets team, these beans take on a delectable flavour, and are utterly delicious. Equally respected by coffee aficionados and loved by those of us who just want something smooth and easy-drinking, this is the place to go in the Hove area for a delicious cup of Joe - where quality is the core consideration for everything 44 Poets does. The space itself, although small, is flooded with natural light thanks to its enormous windows, making 44 Poets a truly lovely place to sit and watch the world go by.

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Pelicano

The strong aromas of freshly roasted coffee, a smorgasbord of baked fancies and a warm Aussie welcome greet each of those visiting Pelicano for their daily dose of caffeine. With their own micro-roastery onsite (using ethically sourced single origin beans), you can be sure your coffee is made from only the freshest of the fresh; if it’s not perfect, they don’t serve it! Take a seat in the rustic setting (there’s a cosy nook in the corner that nicely fits a bum or two!) and be sure to try one of their tiered cakes with a twist. From Beetroot Red Velvet to Parsnip and Cardamom, Pelicano are undoubtedly creative when it comes to home baking, each new addition as exciting as the last. Their savoury options are to die for too, but if one thing’s certain – these guys know about coffee.

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Cafe Coho

The award winning café has much to offer. With reclaimed furniture and exposed brickwork, this is a stylish place to sit back and watch the world go by with a cup of your favourite brew. The deceptively large building is set over two levels, so don’t be put off if it looks a little busy from the outside. With an extensive range of cakes, pastries and savoury items alongside a full breakfast and lunch menu - with boozy options too - this truly is an all-day venue. Their house blend espresso, Revelation (Guatemala), comes from London’s Union hand-roasters: a dark roast espresso giving complex floral aromatics, ripe red fruit notes of cherry and a dark caramel treacle-like body.

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Twin Pines Coffee

Make your way over to Kemptown today, where you'll find the brilliant Twin Pines Coffee. These guys are serious about what they do, and as you might expect from their name, what they do is coffee, and bloody well, too. If you want our advice, the best course of action is to head downstairs into the cosy, welcoming space which feels more like a friend's living room than your average coffee shop. Expect quirky interiors, handmade coffee cups, and some seriously stylish 1920s decor that wouldn't feel out of place in a film set. Coffee wise, Twin Pines offer a fantastic range of espressos, filter coffees and teas, with a monthly rotating selection of roasters.

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Phoenix Coffee House

Sometimes in life, you get a hankering for the simple things, done really well. Straightforward, unpretentious but delicious food, a banging coffee, and friendly, smiley service from a barista who doesn't look like he will murder your first born if you ask for milk in your coffee. It all sounds so easy, doesn't it, but sometimes it's so hard to find! Step forward Phoenix Coffee House, the latest cafe to join Brighton's London Road gang. Phoenix are the smiliest, friendliest kids on the block, giving each customer the warmest of welcomes. From their unbelievably tasty vegan 'sausage' rolls, to their salty, hunky bacon sandwiches; their decadent homemade cakes and sweet treats to the impeccable (and exclusive), locally roasted Lazy Dog coffees; not to mention the brilliant selection of video games – Phoenix Coffee House are doing it right.

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Nowhere Man

Take a pit stop from your vintage shopping and pop into Nowhere Man, a Beatles-esque coffee shop just off Western Road. Settle down on a comfy sofa with a lovely hot cup of Almond Chai Latte - heavenly! While you’re here you may as well have a cheeky lil peep at their pancake menu too.. 'oh go on then', we hear you cry. These legends cook up the best vegan and gluten free pancakes in town, 8 days a week. (Sorry, not sorry.)

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Ground Coffee House

If you’re moseying around the Kemptown area and in need of a caffeine fix, Ground Coffee House are simply the best for artisan coffee and ridiculously appealing and animated staff. They thrive on a socially dynamic atmosphere where coffee lovers can come to relax, catch up with old friends and make brand new friends in this warm and cosy, well-designed space. They use single origin coffee by Pharmacie to make their delicious brews. The Kemptown residence was the first of its now three strong hubs​ and is beautifully decorated with plenty of greenery and oodles of natural light making it the perfect people watching spot. They also rock a banging playlist to boot, it’s definitely one of Wriggle’s lazy afternoon hotspots.

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Bond St. Coffee

Speciality coffee brewers Bond St. Coffee make brews crafted with the utmost love and care, to give you a coffee experience that’s unparalleled. All their beans come from Horsham Coffee Roasters who pride themselves in their control over roasts, the quality of their coffee and their ability to bring out coffee’s flavour with a light to medium roast. They make their espresso using a bottomless portafilter with their Synesso Hydra espresso machine. This way they can recognise when the espresso has extracted properly, to maximise the coffee’s unique flavour. They use whole milk from Downsview Farm in East Sussex to show off their stunning latte artwork. Expect a choice of two single-origin coffees for all espresso based drinks, as well as handmade to order as filter coffee from the brew bar. Get in early and grab one of the comfy sofas as this place fills up fast. A must try for any self confessed coffee lover.

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Redroaster

Redroaster by day and Pike & Pine by night, this venue plays host to two collective seaside hot spots. Award-winning​ chef Matt Gillian has lovingly prepared the brunch and small plates menu on offer during the day, from Herb Waffles with Bacon Jam to Red Roaster’s Brioche Toast with Crab and Yuzu Curd, this is a menu of spectacular proportions. There’s even a bottomless brunch on the weekends for those of you that like a tipple or three. This top quality cafe paved the way and was one of the very first specialist coffee houses, and they are still the only certified organic roastery in the South. Their globally sourced beans are roasted daily for optimum freshness and you can even buy a bag to take home with you. The Kenyan Botanical Punk gives us life. Make sure you’re phone’s charged aplenty when you visit this stylish coffee destination as it’s stunning facade will keep your Instagram flourishing for days.

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Small Batch

With seven locations across Brighton & Hove, Small Batch is quickly becoming . . . well, not that small. But this coffee roastery/cafe business is doing things extremely well; they share a passion for good coffee without the snobbery, they’ve maintained a strong family ethos​ in a fast growing business, they travel out to meet their producers - looking to create sustainable long-term relationships as part of an impressively holistic approach to their work. But all you really need to know is that you can get an unparalleled cup-of-the-good-stuff in a stylish joint whilst getting well looked after - every time.

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Moksha Caffe

This funky indecent coffee shop has come a long way since it first opened its doors back in 2007. From the humble coffee shop to a food-led place for breakfast and lunch. They source their coffee locally from Littlehampton and you have to give the 'Moksha' blend a try. Run by Oliver de Trafford who has got a long background in hospitality where he originally trained and worked as a chef. With a dream of running his own restaurant, he eventually left his job as a manager for a high street coffee chain to set up Moksha with the help of his mum Kate and stepdad Karl. Did you know that Moksha means release and liberation? A fitting name for a café, hoping to provide you with just that and good food.

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Published -1st October 2018