Stirling is a University City, which means students, and lots of them. They’ve brought with them the need for copious amounts of coffee and free WiFi, and the city has obliged. Here are a few tried and tested places to plug in with great, cheap drinks and free internet access.
The Burgh Coffee House
At the bottom of Stirling’s King Street is the Burgh. It’s a haven for students, with reasonably priced drinks, including a pretty big range of herbal teas (in case they should feel the need to de-caffeinate slightly), good, free Wifi access and plenty of tables with plugs. I’m mentioning this last point in particular because, as you will read later, finding a plug can sometimes be a problem. Almost every table, minus the window bar, has a socket, making it easy to stay here for hours of studying, writing or Facebooking (you’ll see plenty of that here).
With its messy bookcase, booth tables and dingy lighting, it’s your typical student hangout but there’s plenty of other clientele too, and seems popular for lunch-time meetings. The staff are friendly, if a little on the stressed side sometimes, but the constant queue is evidence of its growing popularity so we’ll let them away with it.
4 King St, Stirling FK8 1AY (www.burghcoffee.com)
The Muffin Break
A fairly new addition for Stirling and the only decent coffee shop within The Thistles Shopping Centre, The Muffin Break hasn’t been taken over by Stirling’s student population yet. It’s a quirky chain, trying to look like an independent and doing a fairly decent job. It’s also really reasonably priced…and impossible to leave without purchasing a muffin (I recommend the orange and lemon if you’re lucky enough to grab one). The last time I ordered a muffin with my latte, it was the size of my head…no kidding.
The Wifi isn’t always the most reliable but there are plenty of seats (my favourite for writing is squirreled away in the furthest left hand corner). The main problem with The Muffin Break is that it wasn’t designed with students/laptop users in mind, and that means there are only two plug in points. My advice? Drop in for a drink and a muffin with a book and leave the hours of hard studying for another location.
20 Thistle Centre, Stirling FK8 2EE (www.muffinbreak.co.uk)
Groundhouse Coffee Co.
Occupying what used to be a Stirling Coffee staple (and a personal favourite) in the form of Beanscene, Groundhouse Coffee Co. are doing a damn good job of filling the gap left by the former.
Inside it still looks a little like the old place – a bit on the scruffy side with lots of tucked away tables for quiet studying or big couches for groups. The food menu hasn’t changed much either, but the hot drinks selection and quality of the coffee seems to have improved. They also now have a license, which may or may not help you study, depending on how you roll.
If you used to drink in here, you might recognise a few faces, and will be happy to know that the new staff are just the right level of friendly-laidback.
The Wifi here is great, probably the most reliable out of the five on this list, and there are plug points all over the place. There’s not really anything negative to say about The Groundhouse Coffee Co., except that it’s always busy which can mean getting a good table is difficult, so if you’re looking to study, you’re best bet is to arrive early or be prepared to wait.
40 King St, Stirling FK8 1AY
This is the only big chain name on this list, but Costa definitely deserves a mention in amongst the others. The Stirling branch is pretty small (on rainy days, you’ll be pushed to find a seat) but the staff are some of the friendliest you’ll find.
The Wifi is also one of the quickest – although you’ll be limited to 30 minutes for free unless you have a points card and…here’s where the plug point from earlier comes in…they only have one table with access to a socket. I almost laughed at them the first time I heard this, and I really think they’re missing a trick with the students. Still, it’s a great place to work (for as long as your battery holds out) and people watch – perched on the corner of Barton Street and the entrance to the Marches shopping centre.
More expensive than the independents, you’re guaranteed to get typical Costa coffee in typically massive Costa mugs.
Unit 22 Thistle Centre, Stirling FK8 2ED (www.costa.co.uk)
Just around the corner from Costa (and their one plug point) is Crema Central Café. This isn’t so much of a student hang out as a meeting spot for lunch dates and tourists but the Wifi is quick and there’s loads of seating with access to plug points.
For those not needing to immediately charge or desperately check their Instagram account, there’s always a good selection of daily papers and some great food on offer – sit down for five minutes in the morning and you’ll spot at least a couple of tables ordering their tasty pancake stacks. Coffee-wise, Crema’s not too different from most of the others but if you’ve got a sweet tooth, their Carmel Mocha is must.
It’s a little more expensive than the Burgh and Groundhouse, but still cheaper than neighbour Costa. Crema’s staff are friendly, helpful but more importantly, leave you in peace should you wish to zone out from the outside world.
32 Murray Pl, Stirling FK8 2DD (www.facebook.com/cremastirling)