Here I’ll give you a break down on how I’m marking the cafes.
Obviously, this is key to the whole thing. A cup of coffee can be a magical thing – sweet or sharp; long or short; hot or iced; frothy or smooth. While many purist will tell you a single origin espresso is the best judge of coffee quality, how many of us actually drink that? Cappuccino is where it’s at for me. It brings in all the aspects of a baristas skills from making the perfect espresso, getting the volume of milk right and the temperature correct. I’m looking for something of a decent size, that tastes strongly of coffee, is a good temperature so it will last at least 20 mins and is smooth not frothy. This will be rated out of five with 1 being essential a glass of cold milk and 5 being a perfectly made coffee. I’m not going to say that all 5/5 coffees are the best in the world, just that they are perfectly made.
I know what I’m looking for in a cafe, but I also know that that’s not to everyone’s taste. This category gets points for both achieving what it is aiming for and for being somewhere I’d like to go. For example, a cafe might be rave-themed with tunes blasting out the speaker. If that’s what it aims to be, I’ll give it a good score, but as it’s the complete opposite of what I’m looking for it’ll get marked down. Trying to pin down what makes a good atmosphere is like trying to describe a colour. It also depends on the time of day, day of the week, season, music choice etc. If any cafes feel hard done by in this section, then let me know and I’m happy to come back and give it a second chance. Again, this will be rated out of five with 1 a doctor’s waiting room and 5 my front room.
This is a difficult one as I’m reviewing cafes, not restaurants. The line can often blur between the two, so some cafes might only provide a few snacks while others have a full menu. If they don’t offer anything, I’m afraid it’s a big fat 0. Part of the joy of a good cafe is indulging in a cake. If they do offer anything, I will rate them on quality of what they do have. So, if you just provide a couple of cakes and these are the best cakes I’ve ever had, then it’ll be 5/5. Saying that, a large interesting menu could also add points. This will be marked out of 4 stars, so reflect that it’s not quite as important as the above two. 1 is a bag of Walkers crisps, 4 is Gran’s best Ginger Cake.
This shouldn’t be hard, it really shouldn’t. A ‘Hello’ on arrival, coffee arriving no more than 5 minutes after that, a chat if you want, silence if not, and a ‘Goodbye’ when you leave. The rest of the time they should be alert and checking the room, rather than chatting to their friends. While good service isn’t going to make a cafe, bad service can break it. It’s only marked out of three, with 1 being rude, ineffective service and 3 being Jeeves. And remember, leaving a tip is my choice, not yours.
Bit of a controversial one this one – while cafes in small areas of London can easily get involved with the local community, it is harder for the ones in the centre. So while this may seem biased towards the outer ring cafes, there’s actually no reasons why all cafes shouldn’t offer something extra. This could be live music, art for sale, tastings, coffee kits for sale or even organising their own festivals, car boot sales and charity events (stand up Haberdashery). Again, this is only out of three with 0 for nothing, 1 the most basic extras and 3 for embracing and including your local community.