Yes, we have a Starbucks and – heaven forbid – a McDonalds or two, but real coffee lovers have plenty of fabulous places to choose from in Ghent. From a 1930s authentic coffee bar to an English-style tearoom, a selection of our favorites.
Gaële Ran from London asked us to recommend a few coffee bars in Ghent. So we did!
Gaële: “Hi, I have a marketing agency in London and come to Belgium to see family and friends a few times a year. I am coming to Ghent in a couple of weeks and would like to know which coffee places you would recommend?
You probably wouldn’t have come across this coffee gem unless someone told you about it, so you can thank us later. Mokabon is situated in the tiny Donkersteeg, an alley that leads onto the Korenmarkt.
In 1937, a young Italian started a coffee roasting business in this place, which was taken over and turned into a coffee shop a few years later. The history of Mokabon is still very much alive in its old-fashioned interior, which dates from the 1930s.
With our hand on our heart, we promise you will drink one of the best coffees in town here. The prices are very reasonable: €2,40 for a coffee and €2,60 for a cappuccino. Mokabon also serves milkshakes, hot chocolates, pancakes and waffles.
Don’t expect to find a place to sit in this small bar on a Saturday, though, as you won’t be the only coffee addict dying to get their fix. We recommend stopping by during the week.
And if you can’t wait to have your next shot: choose from a selection of coffee beans and have them ground them for you to take home.
2. Julie’s House
A very cute tearoom, this is. Julie’s House has a large selection of coffees and teas on the menu, as well as homemade cakes, tarts, cupcakes and muffins. We guarantee you won’t be able to choose between the lemon meringue or the chocolate tart, but good news: you can also take them away.
Prices are a little bit higher, but these are cakes made with love. Try to avoid Julie’s on a busy Saturday as well, and go during a much quieter afternoon in the week.
This place seems a little bit more upmarket, being in a wonderful historic building, but it isn’t. Chocolato is right next to the Sint-Michielsbrug, the perfect spot to enjoy the view on the Graslei and Ghent’s famous three towers.
Coffees, teas, hot chocolates with four types of chocolate… You name it and they will probably have it. We can also recommend the more than delicious waffles.
Labath is not right in the historical centre of Ghent like the previous coffee bars, but is worth the (very) short walk. This is less of a touristy spot and more the kind of coffee bar the locals hang out in.
Its interior is very hip and has featured in numerous magazines as the backdrop of fashion shoots. But they also serve a mean coffee. We highly recommend the slow filter coffee (€2,60) and – for one of those days you just crave some sugar love – the Chocolate Girl: a cappuccino with melted chocolate (€3,30). You can also have breakfast or lunch here.
5. Simon Says
Brits Simon and Christopher run this B&B annex coffee bar in a colourful art nouveau corner house in the historic Patershol quarter. The terrace outside is the perfect spot to do some people-watching while enjoying a great coffee with a slice of carrot cake. You might even spot a famous Belgian or two here.
Their croque-monsieurs (cheese and ham toasties) with chutney are widely known and loved, and their luxurious rooms are the perfect base to explore the city from.
Also slightly out of town, but the string of awards its baristas have gathered makes OR worth the trip. You’ll find it in the lively student neighbourhood, opposite a small theatre called Minard.
Pretty much every time of the day this little place is quite full, but you’ll soon understand why: they know damn well how to brew a coffee here. The owners roast their own beans in Aalst, about 20 minutes away. You can even take barista workshops here! We enjoyed a few delicious breakfasts here, and even though we sometimes had to fight for a chair, the coffee (they serve great iced coffee too) definitely made up for it.
If the bar is too crowded, you an always try the second OR bar at Dok Noord, a new shopping mall just outside the city centre.