This is the third in the series of blogs Bethanie at Northumberland Family Diaries and I are writing.  It’s called our Sunday Sanctuary Series.

The intent behind the blogs is to ensure we get some time to spend with our second love (writing) over the summer… you can join in by following us on instagram if you fancy…?


We live in a Northumberland village and until recently there was only one place to get a decent coffee and that was right here at home.   I firmly believe life is TOO short for crappy coffee and I am a bit of a coffee snob to be honest.  I take it back if the milk’s burnt or it’s not hot enough… how do people learn otherwise?

Coffee at Flat Caps in Newcastle – misleading as the blog is about Northumberland but GREAT COFFEE.

I have consumed approx 100,0000000 cups of coffee since becoming a mum!   And I haven’t minded one bit drinking a few bad ones to find the best.

When I first moved here one of the toddler groups didn’t offer any hot drinks and another one I went to didn’t offer me a coffee, only a tea!!

So I drunk the REALLY strong tea with the rather rude woman telling me – “I’ve made the tea now”.  I didn’t go back.

I still shudder thinking about it…those were some HARD days dripping with the tiredness of a hundred and one sleepless nights.   Kindness is always welcome with tired parents and I’d rather do 1000 things before go to a toddler group and be ignored for 2 hours so coffee kinda softens it right..?  Luckily my experiences got a lot better as time went on.

Work, rest and play… with coffee 

I like to work in coffee shops sometimes as it increases my productivity (more on that here) if there’s a list of tasks I don’t particularly want to do.

I also take L along for coffee stops a lot… we people watch, read stories and take silly photos.  You’re rarely in a rush with a little one.

I’ve rated each place out of 5 for how family friendly it feels and an extra rating for how it feels to be there as a mum either with the little one or without.  It’s pretty personal but hope it’s useful.

So which are my favourite stops for a cup of the liquid gold!? 

I thought I’d write this little list up to share my faves…  these places are my ‘go to places’ here and I couldn’t choose a favourite so in no particular order…

Now we have a Running Fox which does pretty good coffee, free refills on filter and brilliant brunch and offers such a cosy atmosphere, well curated and thought through and the staff are so lovely.

Me and the little one often go and share a hot chocolate – we usually go for milk and they offer white and dark varieties too.  Wise to book ahead but they do takeaway and the park opposite is great for under 7s.

Family Friendly rating; 3*, Mum Sanctuary rating; 5*

I’ve listed my top 7with a little bit of chat about why because although it’s mostly about the coffee it’s also about the atmosphere!

2. Nelson’s at the Park, Swarland  – again free refills on filter coffee and ALL the outdoor space to play as well as a super cute park to run around.   We love the breakfasts here and you get free refills on coffee with it too.

Family Friendly rating; 5*, Mum Sanctuary rating; 3*

hot chocolate and flowers

3. Costa Coffee at Heighly Gate, Felton/ Morpeth – yes it’s a chain but honestly the coffee is always great and there are real life size dinosaurs to watch out of the window!  We spend a bit of time here and although known locally as ‘highly expensive gate’ I’m quite strict and just take £20 cash which we spend on soft play, the good coffee and the odd plant.

Family Friendly 5*, Mum Sanctuary rating; 2*

4. Carnabys, Brownside – if you happen to be heading north on the a1, Carnabys is well worth a stop by.  Their latte’s are foamy to perfection.  They have a super posh shop which seemed to be a retired couple’s dream when we were there.  We stayed outside and played in the little park and with the tractors.

Family friendly rating; 4* Mum Sanctuary rating; 5*

Perfect crockery at Ca

Perfect Crockery at Carnabys

5. Pilgrims Coffee on Holy Island – I’ve only really been here for work purposes but I would really recommend it on all levels.  Holy Island is my absolute sanctuary.

I usually take in my bamboo cup and they fill it up with a frothy latte for a couple of pounds.  Their upstairs rooms are quieter off season and when the sun shines if you want to get some work done.  They also roast beans on site and their coffee is LOVELY.

Family Friendly Rating; 2*, Mum Sanctuary Rating; 5* 

6. Barter Books, Alnwick – whether it’s 30p coffee from the filter pots at the entrance or a frothy latte in the buffet car restaurant Barter Books serves an excellent cuppa.  It was one of our big deciders in moving up here actually.  We usually go at least once a week socially and you can work on your laptop there until 11am each day.  I’ve written a lot of content for funding applications in there warmed by the fire and L has enjoyed his toddler years train spotting and whizzing around on the wheely bugs!

Family Friendly Rating 5*, Mum Sanctuary Rating 4* 

7. In the car/ on the go…  My sis bought me one of these fab Selfish Mother steel bottles for my birthday which keeps coffee really hot all day.

I use a bamboo coffee cup which we got from Amazon and pour myself a cuppa for my drive or in-between meetings.  I get to drive some gorgeous roads here in Northumberland.

By bottle which keeps liquid hot cost; £27 (but they are £5 in Wilkos) and I’d really recommend this coffee  

Theres a special offer on at the minute where you can buy their coffee (which comes in bio-degradable bags) and get free shipping on 3+ bags.  IDEAL!

What are your favourite coffee stops where you are?


PS – Next week we are writing about How we Organise our Time as a Family.  See you then!