Fancy a coffee? If you are passing through Athlone, or need a caffeine fix in Athlone, there is plenty of choice. Apart from its stimulating qualities, coffee can also become an experience in its own right. A coffee break can be a pleasant way to spend a rainy afternoon (and there’s plenty of those in Ireland, let’s face it) or to catch up with friends. The surroundings play a big role for the overall experience so here are some of the best cafes in Athlone.
Do You Know What a Cup of Coffee Looks Like?
In the literal sense of the word, this is a picture of a cup of coffee: it’s a coffee plant. Have you ever seen one in the flesh?
Bastion K1tchen is located on the Left Bank of Athlone. Besides coffee you can have a variety of hot drinks including turmeric latte and a selection of sweet and savoury food including gluten free and vegan. One of the main draws of this place is that it’s open seven days a week so expect it to be very busy at the weekend. It’s just up the road from Smoke BBQ and Di Bella Restaurant.
There’s a hip and trendy vibe in the cafe but it’s not snobbish like London’s Shoreditch. I’ve noticed a few business meetings going on there, couples having brunch and friends meeting up for healthy food after yoga.
I had coffee and turmeric latte on separate occasions, and both were prepared beautifully.
Craft Bistro is in the centre of Athlone near The Prince of Wales hotel. It doesn’t have a website but only a Facebook page. Offering both sweet and savoury foods, Craft Bistro makes great coffee and will also have special offers combining food and drink, which are good value. The most memorable food I’ve had there was a chocolate molten cake: it was worth the wait as it needed warming before serving and the melting middle was heavenly.
The interior is very spacious with plenty of tables and an additional raised seating area. The décor lets this place down slightly, for example, by having plastic plants instead of real ones.
Savoury Fare at Fernhill Garden Centre
Fernhill Garden Centre is located outside Athlone centre, not far from Athlone Town Stadium. A garden centre may not be the first place that brings to mind when you want coffee, but don’t just take my word for it because the cafe won Best Casual Dining in Westmeath at the Irish Restaurant Awards. Savoury Fare runs the cafe and you may already be familiar with its main venue in Irishtown near Golden Island Shopping Centre and the one in Monksland Athlone West.
When I visited, admittedly to look at plants, I had a delightful coffee break in the cafe and I enjoyed the outdoor space with a vertical garden feature. The coffee was excellent and served in cute Shannon Bridge Pottery cups decorated with flower themes. The cafe is popular with families and there’s a play area for children outside.
Fine Wine & Food Company
Fine Wine & Food Company is located in the centre of Athlone, on the other side of the road from Craft Bistro. The venue is small and the tables are close together but that doesn’t deter regulars so the place is often very busy. There are some groceries on sale inside including organic foods, herbal and non-herbal teas, as well as coffee from Bell Lane Coffee, who also provide the key ingredient for Dead Centre Brewing’s coffee porter.
The coffee tastes rich and has plenty of aroma with a good strength. You can have an assortment of cakes with your drink or, later on in the day, a glass of wine with a savoury dish. There’s no website listed but you can follow them on Facebook.
Nave Coffee Shop
Nave is located in front of Athlone Castle on the Left Bank. It overlooks the Castle and Ss. Peter and Paul Church. Even though it’s small, the seating is well organised with small tables and a long wood table with benches. The coffee is excellent (Fixx Coffee) and crafted expertly.
Your favourite caffeinated drink (in my case either a cappuccino or a flat white) comes with two delicious chocolate buttons. They don’t have a website but you can follow them on Instagram.
Picture credits: Paola Bassanese.