THE BEST COFFEE SHOPS IN GENEVA
by Geli Carney
With so many things to do in Geneva we thought it was time to offer some advice on the best places for a ‘petit pause’ – a chance to re-charge your batteries in one of Geneva’s many lovely coffee shops before heading on to your next, great, Genevois experience. Loosely ordered according to the four points of the compass, we hope this list leaves you well equipped to keep exploring …
NORTH OF THE CITY – BOHO VIBE
Viverra – rue du Mole, 22, 1201 Genève
An oasis of calm in busy Paquis and a short walk from Gare Cornavin, there is a lovely terrace in the summer months. Coffee is well made and the service is friendly. The café is simply furnished and decorated with painted white walls – all the better to display its rotating works by local artists. There’s always a range of home-made cakes on offer as well as best value bagels I have ever seen! (at about 7chf each they’re half what you might pay elsewhere yet just as generously filled).
Best for: quiet contemplation (having sourced all your speciality ingredients from the many multi-ethnic mini-markets in the area); value for money; bo-ho vibe.
EAST OF THE CITY – BIJOUX
Luma Coffee – rue des Eaux-Vives, 8, 1207 Genève
Just up from the Jet and Jardin Anglais, this is a new and stylish addition to Geneva’s burgeoning coffee scene, with a great range of healthy (and not so healthy) snacks and soft drinks as well as excellent coffee and friendly service. A little small, but no less perfectly formed with a richly coloured, smart seating area tucked behind the more utilitarian service zone at the entrance. Bijoux and très chic.
Best for: mid-week meetings and cosy chats; warming up after a lakeside outing.
SOUTH OF THE CITY/CAROUGE – COSY, INDUSTRIAL CHIC
Two minutes walk from the market place of Carouge and well placed for boutique browsing you are confronted with a stark choice: take your coffee to go, from expert coffee roaster Valmandin, where you can stock up on home supplies as well as all manner of coffee-related paraphernalia or, if your legs are weary, take a seat at Blue Balloon just across the road, a café whose decor achieves the seemingly impossible: cosy industrial chic. And truly excellent coffee, naturellement.
Best for purchasing coffee stuff and coffee to go: Valmandin, 46 rue Ancienne, 1227 Carouge.
Best for immediate caffeine injection: Blue Balloon, 41 rue Ancienne, 1227 Carouge.
WEST OF THE CITY – CREATIVE CROWD
Birdie – 40 rue des Bains, 1205 Genève
As you might expect from a coffee shop so close to MAMCO and the University this place draws a younger, creative crowd. They’re pretty studious about their coffee too, sourcing and grinding their own, ethically responsible, coffee beans and offering a variety of brewing methods. After a shaky start on their food offerings things have really improved and their Birdie Brekkie is hard to beat for freshness and quality. See our review of our favourite brunch spots here.
Best for: weekend brunch, perhaps pre- or post- browsing the flea market at Plainpalais or the various art galleries in the area. Handy, too, if you’ve just been to the Patek Philippe Museum or MEG.
CENTRAL – GLAMOUR or ‘FRIENDS’ VIBE
Globus – 48, rue du Rhône, 1204 Genève (entrance on place du Molard)
Whether it’s a mid-shopping pick-me-up or just a convenient stopover whilst exploring Old Town’s museums the coffee bar at Globus is always worth a visit: a delicious, gift-wrapped tartufo chocolate (complimentary) with your coffee adds an extra touch of glamour to the (already) chic experience.
Best for: people watching, gossiping with a friend.
Boréal – three shops around town plus, in summer months, a pop-up on Chantepoulet
You’ve probably already discovered Boréal as it has a number of venues around town (as well as two in Zurich) and was one of the first ‘third-wave’ coffee shops to arrive in Geneva and is, consequently, extremely well established. For all you lovers of ‘Friends’ it offers a relaxed vibe very much in the vein of Central Perk. The Boréal on rue du Stand had a substantial extension this summer and so I felt compelled to take a look (though strictly entre-nous the coffee is really only so-so). Have to say I was pleasantly surprised: there is now a much needed and much expanded seating area AND I was served a coffee that was actually hot! So, if you haven’t discovered their outlets yet, happily, I can now recommend them.
Best for: coffee and lunch combo, working your social media accounts.