Newcastle has always been known for its great night life, filled with some of the best bars, pubs and clubs in the country. However, over the past decade the city has seen the emergence of a fantastic independent coffee shop scene, offering Geordies great quality food and drink in the quirkiest of cafes.
This growing coffee shop culture is something that has not gone unnoticed in the city, with the Toon’s growing independent café scene being featured in both The Newcastle Cook Book and The Guardian. But for those who are not local to the city, how do you find the best of these thriving independent cafes? And what are the stories behind these increasingly successful startups?
Through this article, we will be going through the top 5 independent coffee shop startups in Newcastle; exploring what makes each one marvellously unique, and how they started out.
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No. 5 – Mog on the Tyne
Company name: Mog on the Tyne
Founder(s): Katie Jane Glazier
Opened in 2015, Mog on the Tyne is Newcastle’s first ever cat café, offering its customers a great range of different food and drink from “Fresh Pawninis to “Catte Lattes”. Mog on the Tyne believes in raising awareness of homeless, strays, and abandoned cats, and does exactly that! With all of the Mog on the Tyne’s cats being adopted from both local and overseas cat shelters, as well as being permanent residents in the café.
Founder of this kitty-centric business, and former fashion student at Northumbria University, Katie Jane Glazier has always had a love for cats, and after her studies raised private investment to make this creative café start-up a reality. Upon opening up its doors, the café was a complete success, taking over 1,000 bookings in only the first few days.
To ensure the safety and welfare of all the animals in the shop, Katie is also in regular contact with vets and professionals from animal rescue charities; all who visit the café frequently to check-up on the cats. All the staff are trained in how to manage the cats in the shop, and are continuously on the look-out for any signs of stress, in which case the cat is taken to a designated “chill out” area to relax.
Mog on the Tyne is not only a fantastic addition to Newcastle’s independent coffee shop scene, but also a great business with a worthy cause; encouraging adoption through animal rescue shelters whilst celebrating a love for cats, great coffee and tasty food.
No. 4 – Dog and Scone
Company name: Dog and Scone
Founder(s): Shi Shi and Rainbow Noi
Alongside Mog on the Tyne, Newcastle’s independent coffee shop scene has also started to cater for all dog lovers in the city with the opening of its very first dog café – the Dog and Scone. Having opened in 2017, this independent café offers its customers a fantastic menu for food and drink in the company of 8 adorable dogs. All of the dogs are owned by the couple and co-founders of this animal-loving start-up Shi Shi and Rainbow Noi. The dogs do not stay in the café, and are picked up by their owners after every playful, cuddle-filled day they spend in the shop.
Inspired after visiting a dog café in Korea, co-founder of the café Shi Shi started planning to open up their very own dog café, researching extensively to make this dream a reality. Due to the nature of the business, the couple had to rent out a space that allowed animals. This was initially quite difficult to find, however when a space opened up along Pudding Chare (just next door to Mog on the Tyne!) the couple quickly snapped this up.
Since its opening, the café has become extremely popular, still getting booked up on a regular basis. So when visiting the Dog and Scone, we suggest you pre-book your table to avoid disappointment!
No. 3 – Quilliam Brothers
Company name: Quilliam Brothers
Founder(s): Sam, Tom and Patrick Quilliam
The Quilliam Brothers has become the staple tea house of the city, catering to all manners of people; from students looking for a nice (and caffeinated) place to work, to old friend wanting a catch-up somewhere snug with great food and drink – there’s something for everyone at Quilliam Brothers.
The tea house was set up by three brothers (Sam, Tom and Patrick Quilliam) who wanted to add a booze-free alternative to the city’s night life scene. The tea house is open until 12am Monday to Saturday, and offers a superb range of food, teas (over 100 types to choose from), coffee and baked goods. The tea house also has an underground cinema, with weekly viewings of spectacular independent films.
Quilliam Brothers was set up with the goal of bringing a Budapest-styled tea house to the North East. The shop was also built with the dream of providing a platform for local artists, and frequently exhibits different artists’ work to both admire and also purchase. Before opening the shop, the brothers sold their tea online and in delis around the city. However, after finally getting their dream location, the Quilliam Brothers opened in 2013.
To this day, the Quilliam Brothers is one of the most popular cafes in the city centre.
No. 2 – Cake Stories
Company name: Cake Stories
Founder(s): Hannah Evans, Ben Evans, Liz Ward and John Ward
Opened in 2015, Cake Stories is Newcastle’s finest coffee and cake house, selling a range of incredible cakes, teas and speciality coffee. The café also offers both a breakfast and lunch menu, and alongside a variety of different alcoholic beverages for those wanting a more relaxed atmosphere to their evening (closing at 9:30pm).
Cake Stories initially started up as a part-time cake business that was ran by co-founder Hannah Evans and her mum (also a co-founder) Liz Ward. Both Hannah and Liz always wanted to open up a coffee shop, and found that their cake business was a great way of turning this dream into a reality.
Hannah told TechRound in an interview that the founders also had a dream of creating a coffee shop that turned into a wine bar at night: “we wanted to make somewhere nice to go that’s not a restaurant, not a pub, not a club – somewhere really chilled to go in the evening, and a hub for the community to come together during the day as well.” The independent coffee/cake shop has done exactly that, giving the local community a great space to come together and enjoy all the wonderful products Cakes Stories has to offer.
No. 1 – Flat Caps Coffee
Company name: Flat Caps Coffee
Founder(s): Joe Meagher
Voted one of the 50 best coffee shops in England, Flat Caps Coffee is an independent cafe that has grown to incredible heights since its 2010 opening. Flat Caps Coffee was one of the first in the city’s exciting emergence of the independent coffee shop scene, established with both a love and passion for speciality coffee.
The café was founded by Joe Meagher, who opened up the café after realising how little speciality coffee shops there were in the city during the time. Flat Caps Coffee initially started in a small underground space just off the main high-street of Newcastle, and has since relocated, with the help of some crowd funding, to a much larger location.
This marvellous independent café, now located on Carliol Square, serves a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu in addition to a range of different tasty treats, drinks, and of course, expertly made speciality coffee. They also cater to vegans, vegetarians and gluten free diets.
Flat Caps Coffee has grown astronomically since its 2010 beginnings, not only becoming one of, if not the most, popular independent coffee shop in Newcastle, but also paving the way for other speciality coffee start-ups to follow in its footsteps, creating this now thriving coffee culture scene to the city.
For more information on Flat Caps Coffee, read TechRound’s interview with founder Joe Meagher.