It is said that variety is the spice of life, so many Oxford students want a break from either studying in a library or their rooms. Hence, the phenomenon of studying in a coffee shop. Far more than just an aesthetic, picking the best coffee shop for studying is key to ensuring the best outcome for your work. A good hit of caffeine and a sweet treat will get you through to that tute deadline, while a cosy space might just keep you from your next essay crisis. So, we’ve ranked the best coffee shops in Oxford, so you can find the best places to study, or maybe go on a date.

Cornmarket Pret

The big Pret A Manger on Cornmarket Street is an Oxford institution: this can’t be denied. Always packed with students with a queue outside the door, we often wonder what percentage of Oxford students actually have a Pret subscription. However, obviously, while we all love a Pret coffee, it is still a large, national chain. Equally, it can be incredibly busy at peak times leaving little space and Wi-Fi bandwidth.


Society Oxford

When talking about vibes and atmosphere, we can’t forget Society on St. Michael’s Street. It is the smallest chain on this list, with only two other locations. Slap bang in the middle of Oxford, it’s a great hub for coffee and sweet treats. As for quality coffee, it outshines the competition. It also has plenty of room inside for working and each table can easily fit a laptop, a book, and a mug without a struggle. The bright and airy space is also a great palette cleanser for your tiny dark room.

Gail’s Little Clarendon

The last chain on the list: Gail’s is typically teeming with students thanks to its great coffee and breakfast options. The baked eggs are particularly good if a 9 am has cost you breakfast. There is a huge range of food there and also outdoor and indoor seating options, so you can pick whichever suits you. The iced coffees are great for sitting outside in warmer and clearer weather while getting on with your reading.

The Handlebar Café

The Handlebar Café Oxford

Right around the corner from the Ashmolean, The Handlebar has earned its reputation as an Oxford staple. Arguably the best on this list for when you need an actual meal, it has plenty of light open space, as well as outdoor seating. The brunch is raved about for good reason, too.


Despite being mainly known as an Italian restaurant, Branca certainly makes a good brew. The interior is gorgeous and makes for a perfect working lunch. The small plates and stone-baked pizza can you get through an essay crisis, while the Italian coffee is always welcomed. It is however on the pricier side if you don’t want a whole meal, so not always the best for a student budget.


Vaults Oxford

When it comes to aesthetic convenience, no one can beat Vaults & Garden, commonly known as “Vaults.” With its high ceilings and beautiful interior, it is a beautiful place to come and study. Its proximity to the RadCam is also a huge bonus since it can make for a great little getaway after long hours of studying. We personally recommend the tea and scones for a much-needed afternoon treat. However, it can certainly get busy with tourists, so plan your coffee break carefully.

Peloton Espresso

A cute little cycling café in Cowley. It features speciality coffee and pastries, and its banana bread is known to be fantastic. The cute vibes are perfect for an Instagrammable shot of your break. It is also cycling-themed (naturally) which makes it a really sweet and unique place to study. Cycling is also a huge part of Oxford culture, so if you’re into it, it would be the perfect place to study.

Gulp Fiction

A newcomer in Cornmarket, Gulp Fiction is a cafe-come-bookstore-come-social-club. The wholesome environment gives you great peace of mind. It’s a great little business to support with your maintenance loan money. If you enjoy being surrounded by books but want to give the library a miss, it is perfect for working and reading.

Barefoot Bakery

Barefoot Bakery Oxford

Barefoot Bakery certainly takes the cake when it comes to your sugar fix. Having recently reopened this March, it is such a great business to support. It is definitely on the smaller side, but if you prefer a cosier vibe, this is the café for you. Their Instagram is also adorable and gives the café a really personal touch. It’s also great because the owner updates her menu with new sweet treats.


Certainly, the best for on a budget, Nosebag is a firm favourite for students low on cash. Its hot drinks and affordable meals will get you through any essay your tutor throws at you. The large tables also make it a great place for group work when those dreaded presentations come around, as an entire seminar class can fit easily in one space

Studying elsewhere in the UK? We’ve got you covered. Check out our cafe guides for other cities such as  London,  Nottingham and Brighton. 

Last Updated on January 24, 2024