Stirling is very much a University City, which means students…and lots of them. They’ve brought with them the need for copious amounts of coffee and fast free WiFi, and the city has obliged. Here are a five of the best tried and tested coffee shops in Stirling, with cheap drinks and free internet access.
***Note: This post was first written in 2014 and has been updated in 2017 to reflect closures/coffee shops which have moved or changed name***
The Burgh Coffee House
At the bottom of Stirling’s historic 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)
Groundhouse Coffee Co.
Occupying what used to be a Stirling Coffee staple (and a personal favourite) in the form of Beanscene, Groundhouse Coffee Co. is doing a damn good job of filling the gap left by the former cafe.
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, your best bet is to arrive early or be prepared to wait.
40 King St, Stirling FK8 1AY (www.thegroundhouse.co.uk)
The Fat Cyclist Cafe
One of my favourite spots in Stirling for coffee and amazing breakfasts (you can read the full foodie review here but, to put it simply…you should definitely try the pancakes!) The Fat Cyclist is a quirky cafe with an excellent hot drinks menu, delicious fresh smoothies and homebaked goodies.
With a laidback atmosphere and fast, free WiFi, this is the perfect place for writing, studying or just chilling out. There’s a couple of power points if you need to plug in, and one in particular at a high table right at the very back if you’re looking for a quiet spot to work.
I’m in love with the interior – everything here is recycled, upcycled or swapped – from the gymnasium-horse bar stool to the light fixtures made from old bike wheels. Even though they’re not open particularly late, they’ve got a license and offer up some decent wines and great looking cocktails too.
3 Friars St, Stirling FK8 1HA (www.facebook.com/fatcyclist)
Our place cafe (formerly Crema central cafe)
Not much has changed since Crema updated its name to Our Place Cafe – it’s still more of a tourist and professional lunch spot than it is a student hang out but the WiFi is great and there are plenty of seats with access to plug points if you can miss the busy lunchtime crowd.
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 – including delicious homemade soup. It’s also now home to Our Place Cakes – so if you’re in the market for something celebratory and sweet, this is a great spot to grab custom baked goods. It’s a little more expensive than the Burgh and Groundhouse, but the staff are friendly and, 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/ourplacestirling)
The Muffin Break
When I first penned this post back in 2014, the Muffin Break was a fairly new addition to the Stirling coffee scene, and it’s still one of the only decent coffee shops found within The Thistles Shopping Centre. The Muffin Break might be a chain (the only one to be included on this updated list) but it’s quirky and tasty enough to make it worth a visit. 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…seriously!
The WiFi isn’t always the most reliable but there are plenty of seats (my favourite for writing is squirrelled 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 – which means there are only two plug points. My advice? Drop in for a drink and a muffin if you have a quick laptop project in mind, and leave the hours of hard studying or writing for another location.
20 Thistle Centre, Stirling FK8 2EE (www.muffinbreak.co.uk)
Do you have a favourite coffee and WiFi spot in Stirling? Leave a comment and a recommendation below!
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