York is home to a thriving café culture, with a vast and eclectic mix of places where you can grab a coffee, sample sweet and savoury treats, and enjoy a proper cup of tea. The magic of the cafes in York of course comes from the brilliant and dynamic people who run them. They are doing all they can to ensure you can get your hot java safely, even though the last few months might not have been a piece of cake.  

Make up for lost time and start creating some caffeine fuelled memories in York. Hugging those who are close to you may still be off the menu, but we think sharing some chit chat over a socially distanced hot chocolate in one of York’s fabulous indie cafes is a pretty decent alternative, with the added warm feeling that comes from knowing you’re doing your bit to help a local business.

Here’s just a few examples for inspiration.  

Café Harlequin – King's Square

Café Harlequin is a family run, independent business which has been serving York’s residents and visitors since 1997. It won best espresso in the UK award 2011, and Gordon is a two-time UK national espresso champion, who represented the UK twice at the world championships, placing 7th and 3rd. We asked Marie how things may have changed recently, and what her team are doing to keep customers safe:  

“We are currently open Tuesday to Saturday from 1030.  We have reduced capacity but there is no need to book.  We have a light, well ventilated and airy room on the first floor.  The attic, on the second floor, is currently closed but available to hire.  

We are taking details for ‘Track and Trace’ purposes and our aim is for customers to feel comfortable and safe in our environment, whilst still enjoying the experience.” 

Why pick York as the place to catch up for some chit chat? 

“It’s a friendly and welcoming place with lots of history, charm, and character.” 

FortyFive Vinyl Café - Micklegate


FortyFive Vinyl Café is a calm and relaxed space, with a brilliant collection of records to browse while you’re waiting for your cuppa. They often host intimate gigs (on hold for the time being) and thrive off the diversity of their customers. It was the hangout place of choice for Bill Nighy a couple of summers ago, while he was filming nearby. We asked Dan how opening up was working for them:  

“We’ve taken things slow and steady at the cafe in terms of reopening so that we can make sure that everything works as smoothly and safely as possible.  We’re looking quite different at the moment as we’ve rearranged the space to make it easier to social distance, have a one way system around the record hoppers, our own custom hi-hat stand hand sanitising station, all our food and drink is served in recyclable disposables, and staff are using face coverings. 

We’ve recently opened up some dine-in space and it’s been really great to have had people come to eat and drink in the cafe. We’re taking track and trace details and now doing table service.  We’ll also be using the Deliveroo table service app in the coming weeks as we open up more dining space.” 

Why pick York as the place to catch up for some chit chat? 

“York is a fantastic place for a chit chat, whether it’s catching up with old friends or just setting the world to rights with the bestie. Because we’re a small city everything is so accessible and easy to get to.” 

North South – Bootham


North South is a café based on its owners; Laura is from the north, Rich is from the south. They were walking home one evening and wanted to call in somewhere for a drink, but couldn't find exactly what they were looking for. So they created it. North South transforms from a morning with coffee, pastries, bacon sandwiches and cakes to a bustling evening of wine, sharing boards, beer and cocktails. Here’s how they’ve been handling the new circumstances:  

“We've had to adapt our business to re-open which has included reducing our capacity and working with a limited team for the time being. This means we encourage people to book however we will accommodate walk-ins as best we can. We have sanitisation stations, table service and adequate space between customers.”  

Why pick York as the place to catch up for some chit chat? 

“There's so many independent and quirky places to eat and drink and new ones popping up all the time. Independent businesses are at the heart of the city which are full of interesting people and hidden gems.” 

This is just a small sample of York’s wonderful café culture. For more inspiration, as well as restaurants, pub and bars in York, head to our eat and drink page.  

When spending time in York we ask that you be considerate and observe social distancing to allow yourself and others to enjoy the city safely.