10 of the best coffee shops, tearooms and crafty cafes in the Highlands

10 of the best coffee shops, tearooms and crafty cafes in the Highlands

IF these last couple of years have made us realize anything, it’s the value in the seemingly smaller moments and for many of us, simply being out and about and popping into a coffee shop has to be up there.

The beauty of Scotland, though, means that while sipping on your coffee, you can often turn your gaze and glance out of the window to find a big, beautiful view that makes your simple moment one to remember.

And surely nowhere is this opportunity easier to indulge in than amid the sheer majesty of the Highlands and Islands.

If you are in the area already or pondering a visit, here follows a selection of some of our favorite coffee shops which also offer up spectacular scenery on the menu to boot.

Knoydart Pottery and Tearoom, Inverie

Access to Knoydart, a peninsula in Lochaber, on the west coast of the Highlands, can only be made via an arduous two-day trek over the hills or a short ferry ride from the fishing port of Mallaig. The rugged and remote landscape is one of the main attractions of the area and at Knoydart Pottery and Tearoom in Inverie – the largest settlement in mainland Britain not connected to the road network – the food is a draw, ranging from Knoydart venison meatballs to clotted cream scones, as is the pottery and other arts and crafts to peruse. But wow, the views on offer are simply incredible. Take your coffee, sit on the deck and rain, hail or shine, looking out over Loch Nevis will hit the spot. A coffee a world away from everywhere.

https://www.facebook.com/KnoydartTea

The Birch, Portree

In the center of Portree, Birch is a specialty coffee shop that is surrounded by the rugged beauty of the isle of Skye, but takes its inspiration from farther afield. Set up by Niall Munro – son of former Runrig frontman Donnie Munro – Birch was inspired by trips to coffee mecca, Melbourne, and aims to replicate the hip Melbourne cafe style, while using beautiful, locally sourced products from the Highlands and Islands. The coffee roastery opened in 2021 and offers a range of coffee to enjoy at home. A stunning mural overlooked by the coffee shop, featuring one of Skye’s most recognizable landmarks – The Storr – was in fact painted by Donnie, who was an art teacher before finding global fame with the Scots band.

birch-skye.co

Puffin Coffee, Kilchoan

The scattered settlement of Kilchoan, near the tip of the Ardnamurchan peninsula, is home to the family-run Puffin Coffee, situated in Kilchoan Community Center and serving a bespoke, fair-trade coffee. It is an ideal spot to grab a tea or coffee or lunch, either to take on the ferry to Tobermory or for a boat trip to see the puffins on the Treshnish Isles. Regular local produce fairs are held in the community center on Wednesdays in the summer months where you can meet locals and catch up on what life is like at the most westerly point of mainland UK. Inspired by their love of puffins, plenty of branded merchandise is for sale as mementoes, including puffin mugs and coffee to take home.

http://www.puffincoffee.co.uk

Glenfinnan Dining Car, Glenfinnan

Thousands of tourists flock to Glenfinnan for its famous viaduct – memorably flown over by Harry Potter in a Ford Anglia in the hit movies of JK Rowling’s novels – and for a glimpse of the equally famous steam train as it chugs over the arches, but the dining car is a draw in itself. Situated on the siding at Glenfinnan Station Museum in the Lochaber clachan, the quirky cafe serves local sustainable food from a restored 1950s railway coach, of the kind Harry and his Hogwarts peers journey to school in on the silver screen. As an added attraction, it has an attached ice cream parlor made from an adapted steam train snow plow.

www.facebook.com/glenfinnandiningcar

Skoon Gallery & Studio, Harris

A 20-minute drive from Tarbert – the main community on Harris in the Western Isles – takes you to Skoon, in a traditional island croft building in the Bays of Harris on the east coast of the island. The views are incredible and if you can tear your eyes away from the mesmerizing expanse of white sands and turquoise water that Harris offers, the cafe exhibits original oil paintings by resident artist Andrew John Craig, while all the cakes, bread and biscuits, puddings and soup are made daily on the premises. Treats include baked chocolate cappuccino cheesecake and oatmeal and marmalade ginger cake. You can also pick up Scottish music CDs, vinyl and even sheet music books in the cafe.

www.skoon.com

The Bealach Cafe and Gallery, Tornapress

The Bealach cafe and gallery is nestled in the north west Highlands at the foot of the breathtaking Bealach Na Ba, the twisting single track road that takes you through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula in Wester Ross – the steepest road in Britain. As well as a gallery showing a wide range of original work from artists and craft makers across Scotland, such as art, jewelery, weaving, ceramics and textiles, the cafe has home made soup and cakes, coffees and loose tea, and an outside deck offering stunning views over the Kishorn estuary. It’s an ideal spot to stop off and take a breath before making the climb of more than 2000ft up the Bealach Na Ba.

www.thebealach.co.uk

The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool

This hotel, bunkhouse, restaurant, bookshop and music venue is also a cafe / bar, in Ullapool in the dramatic surroundings of rugged Wester Ross. With views to the mountains, the cafe is described as ‘the warm heart of The Ceilidh Place’, offering a sensory overload when you walk through door, from the smell of freshly ground coffee to the warm glow of the woodburner. As well as a well-stocked bookshop offering an ‘eclectic collection with a Scottish literary bias’, the venue has always been a supportive base for writers, musicians and artists, with the walls a gallery space for Scottish makers and the venue regularly hosting a variety of gigs. If a latte and a good book, surrounded by artworks in a glorious Highland setting sounds right up your street, then you know where to go.

www.theceilidhplace.com

The Wildcat, Fort William

Home to the highest mountain in Britain, if you are heading to Fort William – the outdoor capital of the UK – to climb the Ben, you surely deserve a slice of cake and a specialty coffee for your efforts. And if you are simply there to enjoy the stunning scenery, even more of a reason to seek out this warm, welcoming vegan cafe operating in the High Street of the bustling Fort since 2018; an ideal spot to pop into while exploring the town and the beauty of its surrounds. Serving up artisan roast coffees, loose leaf teas and organic food made on site that is 100% vegan and sourced locally, there is also a wholefoods shop focusing on zero waste to landfill, offering an increasing range of produce titled ‘West Highland Weigh’, in honor of the fact the famous walking trail ends in the town.

www.wildcatcafe.co.uk

The Old Post Office Cafe Gallery, Kincraig

The pretty little village of Kincraig lies on the west bank of the River Spey, at the north end of Loch Insh, and so, this small artisan cafe is truly in the heart of the Cairngorms. The family business aims to “showcase the best of our Kincraig vicinity and bonnie Badenoch beyond” and offers a warm Scots welcome. Mixing the family passions of food and art, the cafe aims to source locally, seasonally and responsibly, with the menu featuring Mediterranean food that has a Highland flair. The cafe also focuses on the talents of local artists and makers with art work from resident artist Ann Vastano on display. It’s all just along the road from the Highland Wildlife Park too so you could see a Snow Leopard or Scottish wildcat and then have a slice of rhubarb and strawberry cream cake or a scone, or perhaps a plate of Sicilian cannoli in a really wild adventure.

www.kincraigartcafe.com

Slaughterhouse Coffee, Cromarty

This independent specialty cafe and coffee shop is set in a truly stunning location on the Cromarty shore in the Black Isle, just by the ferry slipway. Originally a sit-in coffee house, it now takes the form of a hole-in-the-wall service with the cafe area outdoors, offering the opportunity to spot the resident Moray Firth Bottlenose dolphins twisting and turning as you relax and look out to the Cromarty-Nigg ferry terminal and beyond. Stocking and serving their own renowned Vandyke Brothers Specialty Coffee, cakes are from Black Isle Baking. The venue prides itself on its “community spirit”, with Laura Thompson, who took over the business during the pandemic, saying: “Friends, family and strangers are what add to the Slaughterhouse experience.”

www.facebook.com/slaughterhousecoffee

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