If Antwerp holds the key to the Belgian coffee kingdom, Leuven is well on its way to becoming caffeine royalty as well. This student town has seen a wealth of great coffee bars popping up in recent years. Here’s our guide to the city’s standout spots for a cup of black gold.
New on the Leuven coffee scene, Thelma Coffee & Design has attracted a lot of buzz since opening in the increasingly hip Vaartwijk area. Owner Katrien, who left a career as a dentist in the rearview mirror to pursue her concept store dream, prefers her guests to enjoy their MOK coffee amid beautiful design and floating Pyth plants. Clothes and accessories by young Belgian brands like LN knits and Sternum combine effortlessly with Scandinavian furniture in the bright, open space. A nice selection of children’s clothes for sale too make Thelma, sweetly named after Katrien’s oldest daughter, a home away from home for young urban moms.
Thelma Coffee & Design, Vaartstraat 12, Leuven, Belgium +32 491 06 35 23
Turkish Mutlu and Leuven-born Annelore embarked upon multiple adventures when they not only married each other, but when started a coffee house together as well. The small, mustachioed façade of Le Mustache actually hides a spacious business, where an extensive menu includes coffee made the traditional Turkish way. For breakfast, the always smiling Mutlu is happy to offer up a colorful assortment of cereal, to mix and match as you please.
A long time favorite among fashionistas, Punto Caffè’s sunny terrace in between the two main shopping streets is ideal for people-spotting. Add to that a large assortment of specialty coffees (how about a toffee nut latte or Homesweet Coffee), bagels for lunch and sumptuous homemade cakes, and it’s no wonder the tiny shop decided to expand. Punto Kiosk in the Brusselsestraat serves up your favorite cup of Punto joe with a side dish of international and local newspapers.
Punto Caffè, Vanderkelenstraat 17a, Leuven, Belgium +32 0478 32 38 41
Punto Kiosk, Brusselsestraat 33, Leuven, Belgium +32 0478 32 38 41
After tasting Caffénation’s (caffeine king of Antwerp) espresso, coffee was no longer just coffee to Kris. The result: Noir Coffeebar in the Naamsestraat, where the atmosphere is amiable and a cup of grandma’s slowly filtered coffee brings a peaceful moment to a hectic day. Broke students will be relieved to know it’s totally fine to bring your own ‘bokes’ (sandwiches), though you’ll probably end up craving a piece of their delicious pies anyway.
Noir Coffeebar, Naamsestraat 49, Leuven, Belgium +32 016 85 08 97
Waiting for you right across the street after a visit to the essential Museum M is ANNA. Specializing in tea as well as coffee, owner Christel (middle name Anna) is committed to using high-quality products whose origins she knows perfectly. The exceptionally comfortable sofas are perfect for settling down with one of the many different slow brews or refreshing iced teas.
ANNA, Leopold Vanderkelenstraat 27, Leuven, Belgium +32 016 43 62 80