Anyone for Coffi?

Now that the sunshine has arrived, fancy a seasonal Turkish meal at Bosphorus down Cardiff Bay? Tough… it’s gone! And, just when Cardiff is beginning to drown under the tide of coffee shops, it’s been replaced by… you guessed it…

Outside [1]

Outside sign [1]

At least it is a local confection, not just another national chain (though I still pledge my allegiance to Coffee#1). Stepping inside, this does happen to capitalise on its location, with a light and airy feel, as well as seats outside…

Inside [1]

And, if you are prepared to part with something approaching London style prices, there are some interesting twists on the coffee menu…

Menu sign [2]

The Gingerbread Cappuccino and Hazelnut Bueno Latte were certainly two temptations worthy of taking out a mortgage on…

With occasional live music (currently only on Bank Holidays) for those needing to be entertained, and the offer of giant pasties for the peckish, this looks like a worthy addition to the Mermaid Quay pleasure emporium.

Inside looking out

Or, if you are a bit strapped for cash, there is always a timely reminder of other ways to satisfy some of your needs…

Inside wall mural

Until we speak again, any clue as to where I am going to get a proper Turkish Kofte Kebab these days?

 

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Coffee Industry

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Something’s happening in a strange space outside of the city centre of Cardiff, known as the Capital Quarter.

For many locals the sight of a blue sky takes on a mythic status. But with the help of an over-sized set of chopsticks, there seem to be some complex metal jig-saw puzzles rising where once there was mud and the dereliction of industry from a bygone age…

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What this emerging conglomeration of metal and glass structures are meant to offer is anyone’s guess. The well-being of indigenous Cardiffians, and the post-Brexit still welcomed immigrants of the world, is duly promoted by the purveyors of dubious post-industrial dreams. But surely, the only real industry of any note in the developed world of the 21st century is coffee shops. You don’t have to look too far (about 5 yards buys it) for the nearest coffee shop, as Kin + Ilk promise a future marriage of coffee and industry, in the form of a ‘small business’ promoting venture.

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In modern parlance, we now have an artisan coffee shop, whatever that is! A quick glance at the menu offers the first hint…

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If you prefer your avocado + chilli + lime on toasted sourdough to be sampled in a minimalist setting, this is your place…

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The cappuccino just about holds its own against the masses of competition occupying the city centre.

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But clearly it is early days, and these premises look perfectly located for the hundreds of anonymous captains of industry who will no doubt descend on the business edifices (or is that edify?) sprouting out of fertile former docklands grit. Located on Smart Way, it is yet to be determined if it is a smart move, but they are at least extending a daily welcome to anyone passing by (or is that lost?)…

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Though she is sadly long passed, Juno was always one for a contemporary coffee shop pose, as no self-respecting cat has a cup without an accompanying screen.

Until we speak again, don’t forget that those cups of coffee are not only your pleasure, they are also contributing to the next industrial revolution (or should a ‘not’ be inserted somewhere in that sentence?).

 

Cats love coffee

Preening the whiskers and slinkingArrival in Cardiff around the city centre it became very clear to Juno that the great new industry of the 21st century has become drinking coffee. Whilst slurping it from a bowl would more likely have been her choice (and no, for the RSPCA affiliates out there I didn’t feed my cat on coffee!), it would appear that people are becoming more sophisticated and even somewhat nostalgic about how and where they take in their beans. A quick slurp of the hot and wet stuff is so 20th century Britain!

Connoisseurs of the art now have several locations around the city of Cardiff, with Brains Brewery even being the owners of a favourite independent chain of Coffee#1. Then, as you turn into the Castle Arcade you are rewarded not just with a light, airy and fascinating space, but also a great example of the new world of consuming coffee… welcome to Coffee Barker.

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Coffee Barker [2]

 

 

 

Step back into a world of dimmed lighting, leather chairs and sofas of all shapes and sizes, and celebration of stripped back brickwork and wood. Chaotic displays of bric-a-brac only add to the ambience… unless you happen to be a stickler for the post-modern clear lines and surfaces favoured by the multinational chains, who largely want you to know you are in their place (anywhere in the world), not somewhere distinctly individual!

Coffee Barker [5]

 

Barker interior

 

 

 

 

 

This is a place for cool cats (Note: other cats are also welcome!) to hang out, chat, check out their digital world, or even do some old fashioned pastimes like reading physical copies of print!

Coffee Barker [1]

But, Juno would always have been more intrigued by the goods on offer, and she would have been interested in the early bird offers (for more than one reason)… get there before midday to sample one of the best doorstep bacon sandwiches of any vegetarians nightmare:

Barker bacon

The cappuccino is also made to be savoured in a state of relaxation. So, until we speak again Juno would always wish that your coffee beans are brewed with an artisan’s love.

 

A perfect start to Sunday

If I am honest my real perfect start to a Sunday is an impression of an armadillo, curled up and ignoring the world… but I guess

Armadillo posewe all need to find some reasons to get up, even on a Sunday. The day my resident housekeeper decided we were moving out of London back to Cardiff I did have some fears and trepidations… particularly about Sunday mornings. After all, this Wales joint is known for its fire and brimstone parable-ranting preachers, scaring the hell out of the morning-after-the-Saturday-night-hangover-crowd. Back in simpler times Sunday morning always seemed to be the perfect antidote to having a good time!

Well, it seems like my tea-drinking homie, who says coffee at home just isn’t right, has discovered the place to be for the best in coffee. It was Iris Murdoch who once said “Coffee, unless it is very good and made by somebody else, is pretty intolerable at any time.” So if you are going to reserve this pleasure as a reason for leaving home, it needs to be consistently good; after all, Justina Chen once said Adventure in life is good, consistency in coffee even better.” 

Now I must admit to being a bit dubious about any place calling itself Numero Uno Coffee 1 [3]but it does tweak my interest to see if it can live up to its self-imposed challenge. I am told that a few of these coffee houses, with a particular spot down the un-castled end of Cardiff’s Queen Street, live up to the name. Not that I will find out for myself, as Karen says she is allergic to cats! Though I think it is more to do with supporting Tottenham Hotspur myself. Either way, I decide to send my personal coffee taster to experience the arduous challenge of sitting around in relaxed comfort while slurping the most important part of the coffee bean’s journey (a whole journey pictorially represented on the wall) and sampling a fine selection of the sweet and savoury stuff.

‘So tell me oh laid-back one, what is your perfect vision for a Sunday morning?’

Coffee 1 [7]‘Ok, also tell me, my surrogate cappuccino-gargler, what makes this place worth visiting?  Could it be a combination of all sorts of restored furniture, comfy chairs and sofas, fabulous coffees, delicious sausage baps, almond croissants that blow your mind, carrot cake of door-stopping proportions, and an eclectic mix of laid back music?’ Being succinct of answer they said Yes, to all of that’. Fortunately for me, other people had more to say for themselves on the subject of coffee…

Coffee#1 [1] Coffee#1 [2]

Cassandra Clare once said “As long as there is coffee in the world, how bad could things be?”

Marcia Carrington once said “A morning coffee is my favourite way of starting the day, settling the nerves so that they don’t later fray.”

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Dave Barry once said “It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.”

‘And what of the welcome?’ I enquired of my newly found ‘coffee quotation repeating machine’… I am told the staff are very friendly and welcoming, and even regularly come out with the most pleasing of phrases… ‘Take a seat, and I will bring your coffee over to you’.

Coffee 1 [9]How civilised it all sounds; after all, us cats like nothing more than sitting around being pampered. I even hear that this place is populated by talented as well as friendly staff, with Marta in the picture doing a bit of the running thing (which only makes sense to me if there is another animal to chase), and Jadon developing as a talented artist. I can think of no better way of getting a Sunday started than letting talented people do all the work while I reap the rewards… the difficulty I am told is wanting to do anything else, at least until the football and beer step into the void later in the day. As for me, a busy Sunday is really all about finding the sunny spot and having a stretch.                                                                Sunshine at 14 2

However, it seems that my resident deluded writer doesn’t see this as the place only to be reserved for a perfect Sunday morning. While that is a relaxing quiet newspaper reading time, this is also the place where they seem to disappear off to for a break from the office at home… to people-watch the office workers doing lunch, the students studying, the shoppers chilling-out, the families gathering, the friends chattering, and the workers meeting for that all-important information-sharing decision-making time away from the workplace. Clearly these workers haven’t taken to heart what Ronald Reagan once said (or was that more than once?) “I never drink coffee at lunch, I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon.”

This place feels like a throw-back to good values of the past, and at the same time feels like a contemporary part of a new culture. Fortunately, it is not stuck with some of the stranger coffee drinking experiences of the past when hot & wet was more important than quality. Jarod Kintz once said “I told the waitress I wanted some coffee. She asked if I wanted leaded or unleaded, so I had to leave the restaurant. I quit drinking gasoline years ago.” 

Coffee#1 at Queen Street lives up to the name, and my surrogate pleasure seeker does the skinny cappuccino and carrot cake thing occasionally just to torment me, I’m sure.

Coffee 1 [8]I have been Juno for yet another Sunday morning, and on the basis of many reports I suggest that if you value all that is good in life get to a Coffee#1 as soon as you can. I will speak with you again, as soon as I can stop thinking about that carrot cake while staring at the rocks I get served up in my bowl.

The City of Arcades

If there is one defining thing about us dames… it is that we do like to shop! Back in the wilds of East London I had to make do with scraps from street markets, and the bins of corner shops and local stores. I am not complaining, at times I had the choice of delicacies from many different parts of the world. It often felt like the United Nations emerged from the diversity of those very streets; and that got me excited about the idea of being near to Tiger Bay… the original United Nations-by-sea. But, that is not to be; I am near it, but the Tiger Bay I heard other cats talking about has long since gone.

It seems my local corner shop is now a great big John Lewis store, a bit more upmarket than I have been used to, but something I can easily adjust to as long as my personal banker keeps the taps running.

John Lewis 1

But wait… it seems this Cardiff place has something else to interest us discerning shoppers. It seems like the Victorians in this part of the world had an idea for building shopping ‘arcades’, and from the Royal Arcade in 1858 to the Dominions Arcade in 1921 Cardiff has become famous as ‘the’ city of arcades. As I slink along the shop fronts it can get quite confusing with all these different arcades with their fancy shops, and some not so fancy shops. High this and Morgan that, the odd Castle, and even a Duke, not to say a Wyndham (whatever that is).

Castle Arcade 1

High St Arcade 2

Duke St Arcade 1Dominions Arcade 1

Morgan Arcade 1

Wyndham Arcade 1

Then I hear there was a Queen Street Arcade, a Dickens Arcade, an Andrews Arcade, and an Oxford Arcade… all gone. It is enough to make your head spin, but at least there is one great industry thriving in all of these arcades… coffee! How much coffee do you think there is in Brazil… well most of it seems to have found its way to Cardiff from what I see as I mooch along these mini glass-rooved shopping cathedrals.

After a smooth cappuccino in the Morgan Arcade I am looking like this:

A few macchiato’s in the Castle Arcade and the world is beginning to look at bit like this [go see loads of brilliant images by my friend Fat-Freddies-Cat at http://www.panoramio.com/user/5357514]:

castle arcade cardiff - balcony panorama

Then an espresso in the Royal Arcade and I’m shimmying across the glass roof looking something like this:

Thank heavens for the dimly lit recesses of The Old Arcade… the more familiar territory of the alley cat, with its stretch of beer-soaked, cigarette-butt littered cobbles leading me directly into the culinary palace that is… the Central Market.

I will have many more tales to tell about my sojourns around these arcades (and the market), but in the meantime if I have sparked your interest in this unique feature of my city I suggest you go to http://cardiffarcadesproject.com/ for loads of stuff and things about each of the arcades. See you again soon. Juno