What’s your kind of drink? Tea? Coffee? Juice? Or maybe a glass of wine on a stressful day? If it’s the latter, I feel you.
Just over eighteen years I had been a religious tea drinker. Every morning before school/college I had my breakfast cuppa, and it would be the only hot drink I would order in a café, besides hot chocolate of course. I had never understood the obsession people have with coffee. I mean, people posting Instagrams of their morning coffee, writing about how much they appreciate coffee in their Twitter bios – it never seemed obvious to me what the fuss was about. Why are people running off coffee? Welcomed by the pungent smell of bitter beans as I walk into a coffee shop, only to order my Breakfast Tea was never one of my favourite things to do, I must admit. In fact, I even remember Christmas shopping for my mum, with my dad, and I had found the perfect present. My dad replied with “Well done Rach, I’ll treat you to a coffee”. “But I don’t like coffee, Dad”, of which he smirked “exactly”. I was not amused, to say the least.
Yet when I think back to confused and ignorant sixteen-year old Rachel asking these questions to herself, I almost want to pat her on the head with pity. Because since coming to university, I figured that all-nighters would probably occur, meaning that needing something high in caffeine is inevitable. And being repulsed by energy drinks, I knew that it was time to give coffee another go. Starting with milky and sugary lattes, I softly introduced myself to coffee, slowly taking out sugar until my taste buds could adapt to the strength of coffee. I was basically training my tastebuds, that’s the only way to put it. However two months later, coffee was the only thing I was drinking, and out of choice. Mochas, lattes, filter coffee, black coffee (with no sugar for those last essay struggles). And now I claim that it is by far my favourite drink, which is quite surprising when I think back to how much I used to despise it. And since becoming a coffee lover, I have answered all of my previous questions, and I now understand why so many people rave about coffee. And Instagram it. (Guilty).
Some students like to spend their money on partying, alcohol or Dominos. Me however, I tend to spend it in my favourite coffee houses and cafés. Being an avid caffeine addict and forever searching for somewhere new to read and relax, I have discovered my favourite aspect of Cardiff; the quirky and creative coffee houses that are tucked away in arcades. So, since I have filled you all in about my coffee sob story, I thought why not give a list of my favourite coffee shops and cafés I have discovered.
Barker Tea House, Cardiff
You can tell I come here a lot, can’t you? A vintage tea house, reminding me of the 1920s is by far my favourite place to sit with friends, family or read my book in peace. Not to mention how delicious their paninis are, which are usually brimming to the edges with delicious fillings. With an endless amount of herbal teas, this place is the epitome of English stereotype. Old-fashioned décor, jazz music and a relaxed atmosphere, Barker Tea House is my favourite lunching spot ever. I have even considered making a trip to Cardiff over the summer just to come to Barker Tea House to satisfy my withdrawal symptoms.
Coffee Barker, Cardiff
Okay, I come here a lot too. Sister company to Barker Tea House, Coffee Barker offers a slightly more chilled, groovy atmosphere, where the interior décor is yet again, incredible, but perhaps more ‘New York’/city -coffee-house vibe. Like Barker Tea House, the coffee-house is hidden in one of Cardiff’s old-fashioned arcades, meaning that it is hidden away, yet popular enough – the perfect place to socialise with friends, or write blog posts *cough cough*. I would be right in saying I have probably tried almost everything Coffee Barker has to offer, and I would 10/10 recommend their Nutella tart. “Would you like it warmed up with cream?” was like music to my ears. Not to mention they make THE best milkshakes you will ever taste.
Pinkman’s Bakery, Bristol
Although this is not in Cardiff, stumbling upon this golden place at the top of Park Street excited my inner coffee-house fangirl. This place was like no other I have been to, filled with baked goods and deli sandwich choices to choose from. The simplistic, modern layout felt very aesthetic and I hope you understand what I mean by ‘a typical city cafe’. After a long indecisive debate with myself, I chose a cherry liquor chocolate cheesecake and a latte, and oh wow. Indulgence at its finest. My taste buds were greeted by heaven. The rich chocolate cheesecake slice was huge, and I honestly haven’t tried a better latte since having one here. I definitely recommend this place to any of you fellow Bristolians, or even if you choose to visit Bristol.
29 Park Place, Cardiff
29 Park Place welcomes with a cosy-bar ambience, all whilst feeling sophisticated and pleasant. Menus creatively attached to vinyl record covers and a bookshelf of books and VCRs, the bar is perfect for a coffee by day, and cocktails/beverages for evenings. I am yet to test out the meals 29 Park Place has to offer, however the selection looks incredibly appetising. Typically ordering a coffee, I can confidently say that their mochas are one of the smoothest I have tasted, and at a reasonable price of £2.
Hoffi Coffi, Cardiff
Every day this place is bustling with students, sometimes making it difficult to find a place to sit. However the buzz of uni students makes it a friendly place to have a coffee break, or even sit down and do some work. Hoffi Coffi seem to have this student cafe nailed, as the acoustic playlist and chilled staff makes your coffee trip a de-stressing one. Every Cardiff Uni student will be familiar with this place, and have probably tried it out too.
Every day I walk past Hogwurst on the way to lectures, peering in to see if it looks any good, and it has taken me until 2 weeks ago to actually get round to having a drink in there. Taking a revision break with some friends, we were amazed at the quirky, contemporary restaurant that is filled with books, ornaments and authentic décor. I tried the banoffee pie milkshake, which was (almost) as good as Barker Coffee’s. Sorry Hogwurst, I’m partial to Barker Coffee due to my unwavering love for the Barker duo.
Not your typical coffee, aye? But it gets to that point of the night when drinking alcoholic beverages, where you are a little giggly, your mouth is numbing and you just think to yourself, “My two favourite drinks: cocktails and coffee. Why not have them both at the same time?”. That’s right. And 30 seconds later, one espresso martini is coming up. (Shaken not stirred). But quite possibly one of the best alcoholic drinks I have ever tasted. £8 for an espresso martini meant that was my Treat-of-the-Week spent, and a little more expensive treat than usual too. However, every sip was accompanied with “mmmn”, so I had no regrets. Well… except the morning after when I wasn’t feeling too funky fresh.
After writing this blog, I slightly feel as though I am becoming a café connoisseur… I just love cafés, I promise.
Image Credits: Rachel Jefferies, Seb Bailey, Lin Jefferies