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Caffeine & Co In Longford Park Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield thinks it's all very human and very 'nice'

Written by . Published on August 27th 2013.


Caffeine & Co In Longford Park Reviewed
 

NICE is a word that should never speak its name. 

Parks are a good reflection of a city's health. The lack of good cafes with good food in the region's parks has been a symbol of civic malaise.

It is one of the great no-nos of the English language, disparaged by sundry teachers and tutors as a bland, nonsense little filler that lacks cojones. In-exact. Vague. A bit drippy and droopy.

That's wrong. Nice is a very, very exact word, maybe similar to simpatico in Spanish. It expresses a particular aspect of something pleasant. Pleasant in a way that isn't about passion or enthusiasm, maybe a shade under 'good' but more than 'average'. Something comfortable. It describes something that raises the corners of the mouth a smidgin.

Nice is a very useful word. And very English.

Big rustic table in Caffeine & Co

Big rustic table in Caffeine & Co

Caffeine & Co in Longford Park, Stretford, is a perfect example of the agreeable qualities of the word. It's a nice place.

Under the spreading broadleaf trees, in an Edwardian (I'm guessing) one storey building, adjacent to the play area and over from the Pets Corner, it makes you smile.

Parents, kids, couples, pensioners and other gentlefolk park their prams, bikes, dogs and loll on the picnic benches (it needs at least five more of these) or inside the folksily decorated building.

There are wraps and sandwiches and soups, shakes and cakes and teas. The homemade orange and marmalade cake on our visit was a beauty. A hastily put together bagel less good, although most reports we've had of the food compliment it.

And then there is the coffee which rockets way above nice to bloody fantastic. We've already written about the original Caffeine & Co in the city centre on Confidential. The flat white in the Longford Park sister venue is just as good, the other coffees are too. The coffees come from the Square Mile Coffee Roasters by the way.

A spread of coffee, cake and tea with the milk in a little bottle

A spread of coffee, cake and tea with the milk in a little bottle

Open from 10am-5pm every weekend, this place provides a caffeine pick-me-up with nature thrown-in; sadly unusual in Greater Manchester.

Parks are a good reflection of a city's health. The lack of good cafes with good food in the region's parks has been a symbol of civic malaise. That has not been nice. In the slightest.

The Longford Park initiative could be a model for others. Here's hoping. 

Not that this is all about parks.

Confidential is particularly looking forward to the next Caffeine & Co outlet which will open on the ground floor of Quay House, our building, later this later. I'm going to get a fireman's pole and slide right in from the second floor to pick up a java.

Nice.

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE.  

Caffeine& Co in Longford Park, Longford Park, Stretford

Rating: 14.5/20 (remember venues are rated against the best examples of their type - see yellow box below)

Food/ Tea/ Coffee: 7.5/10 (coffee 8.5, tea 8, cake 8, bagel 6)
Service: 3/5 
Ambience: 4/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away

Through the arched windowThrough the arched window

Under the leaves and in the trees with an ice cream van as wellUnder the leaves and in the trees with an ice cream van as well

Sweet interior - 'nice'Sweet interior - 'nice'

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19 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Jgdg SjgksljgAugust 27th 2013.

I'd rather go to the ice cream van. Food at this place was rock solid!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Caffeine Co.August 29th 2013.

Hi, we're really sorry to hear you didn't like the food. We'd like to have you back to try it again? We often send people to the ice-cream van as we have very different products and we are actively aiming to avoid direct competition. Choice is good!

Warren DeakinAugust 27th 2013.

Loved the atmosphere but soon got bored, the menu didnt really have much choice and what I ordered was ok but overpriced. Service was good though

1 Response: Reply To This...
Caffeine Co.August 29th 2013.

Hi Warren, the menu will expand greatly over the next two weeks so you may find it more "exciting". There seems to be two schools of thought on what food should cost. Our view is that it should be priced fairly and allow for the person who makes it to enjoy a real job on a living wage. We are proud that we took an empty shop in the city centre and now employ 6 full time staff - which will soon become double that. All on contracts, no zero hours nonsense, all doing something that's creative and will allow them to either grow with us or expand their careers in the future. The alternative is what the chains do - employ lots of counter staff on 6.50 p/h and buy and sell crap ancient coffee roasted in overseas factories with no real regard for craft at any point in the process. So we will carry on doing what we are doing - creating fresh home made products, using the best ingredients and trying to bring a little imagination to the process of eating simple food at breakfast and lunchtime, and providing them at a price which is great value for money.

AnonymousAugust 29th 2013.

I for one think the café is a true asset to the park. The staff are welcoming, friendly and have always helped with any requests. The cakes are amazing and the sandwiches very tasty. The kids meal is great value too. I think since they've opened they continue to learning about demand and what to offer but seem to actively take on board feedback (good and bad) Good luck to the guys, we'll be constant visitors!

AliceAugust 29th 2013.

I totally agree with the above comment. I think the cafe is wonderful and I'm so happy you are here! Everything in life is a work in progress and I can't wait to see how the business expands. Your coffee and cambazola bagels rock! x

Jo HealAugust 29th 2013.

The café could well have been a greasy spoon, overpriced and under-considered, however I have found it to be the opposite. They have made a great job of the facilities they have available, coffee is great and I look forward to more variety of food in the future.

Jane AngelAugust 29th 2013.

A huge asset to the area. Delicious cakes and bagels with imaginative fillings. One gentle hint - the coffee could be hotter. Using very chunky cups cold draws all the heat from the coffee. Good luck. Jane

Annabelle HoweAugust 29th 2013.

I am very happy that this coffee shop has finally opened. It was a long time coming with promises from Trafford council and nothing ever happening. I was extra pleased to see the new occupier would not be a little old lady with a tea urn. (No offence to little old ladies and their tea...) This place shows great promise and I look forward to seeing how it expands, however I have been a little disappointed on my visits thus far... The food and coffee taste great but it would be nice to be able to order something from a menu rather than buy pre-made food and on both my visits so far this has been an issue. That said, I was accommodated at the time and food was made for me for which I was very thankful. There did seem to be very little vegetarian option unfortunately, but now I hear the menu has been expanded, hopefully this will have changed. Lastly, I can't stress enough how much there is a need for far more outside seating. I for one, when passing on numerous occasions, have kept walking as there was nowhere to sit, so I feel they are missing out on a lot of business because of this. I hope Caffeine & Co Longford park goes on from strength to strength, it's great to finally have a good coffee shop next door and I'm sure I will become a regular!

AnnabelleAugust 29th 2013.

I am very happy that this coffee shop has finally opened. It was a long time coming with promises from Trafford council and nothing ever happening. I was extra pleased to see the new occupier would not be a little old lady with a tea urn. (No offence to little old ladies and their tea...) This place shows great promise and I look forward to seeing how it expands, however I have been a little disappointed on my visits thus far... The food and coffee taste great but it would be nice to be able to order something from a menu rather than buy pre-made food and on both my visits so far this has been an issue. That said, I was accommodated at the time and food was made for me for which I was very thankful. There did seem to be very little vegetarian option unfortunately, but now I hear the menu has been expanded, hopefully this will have changed. Lastly, I can't stress enough how much there is a need for far more outside seating. I for one, when passing on numerous occasions, have kept walking as there was nowhere to sit, so I feel they are missing out on a lot of business because of this. I hope Caffeine & Co Longford park goes on from strength to strength, it's great to finally have a good coffee shop next door and I'm sure I will become a regular!

AnonymousAugust 29th 2013.

So much anticipation and goodwill for this local cafe project is seriously being undermined by either opening before ready (which is unprofessional) or wilfully not providing the basics required of a working cafe (which is stubborn and rather patronising). I find it both ludicrous and a tad humiliating to try and guess what it is they are prepared to make for me as the cafe steadfastly refuses to have a food menu, never has any supplies except for precious teas and coffees. Yet so many people beavering away - but to what end? The social media channel often champions a tempting cake every now and then but, in my experience, that will be the only one, and usually just sold out. I'm sure most of the vision is sound and I hope that they are proven right - but with the runway for new business success is ever shorter. Having made five visits in as many weeks my patience has already run too low and I'd rather walk by than be frustrated further. PS. The home made crumpets are too salty.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Caffeine Co.August 30th 2013.

Thanks for your feedback. We think a fair bit of what you are talking about here is a result of the cafe proving very popular - but if you have been in 5 times and not found any cake then you've been extraordinarily, possibly uniquely, unlucky. You make it sound as if we never have anything on, whereas the truth is that we make loads of stuff that sometimes sells out very quickly. When we opened and posted our first-day menu it created quite a storm and we knew then that Longford Park was very different to our cafe in town, and that we would need to step back and see what the community wanted and that's what we have done. We didn't seek this review and we don't see the cafe as being anything like the finished article just yet. Menus, however, will be provided from next week as the offering expands. There are real issues with running what we would like to run in the cafe space. Space is one, so refrigeration, storage and prep are all quite limited at the moment, but the plan is to bring a container up to be placed at the back of the cafe to remedy this. Also, the unit currently does not have 3 phrase electricity and no gas supply- it is very hard to run a professional kitchen space without this, as pro gear like dishwashers and cookers all need 3 phrase as they use huge large quantities of electricity. This can be solved but as the space is owned by Trafford it takes time and we do not have the power to just get on with it. We had two options; open and wing it, using equipment that is designed for domestic not professional use, or stay closed until it was sorted out. We assumed that the community on the whole wanted a cafe open over the summer so we opened. We feel that running it as smoothly as it does with a home-use dishwasher and range actually shows high levels of professionalism, rather than the opposite as you suggest. Onto the crumpets, perhaps you got a salty one? The joy and peril of real food is that is might vary but we usually find they are widely praised so we'd love to have you back to try another, and possibly some cake?

AnonymousAugust 30th 2013.

Long awaited, so far many teething problems - on the first visit they had run out of caffeinated coffee, they don t sell bottled water, they closed at 3 on bank holiday Monday when the park was packed, probably due to running out of food. On second visit wanted soup but as they hadn t tasted it yet they wouldn't t serve it, really could do with a menu so that you don t have to wait in a queue to ask what s on offer only to learn that you don t fancy anything on offer. Need more tables outside but also how will you satisfy demand for tables inside in winter - the limited seating space is likely to put people off coming. Husband won t go back but I want it to succeed and hope that teething problems get sorted soon will give it a month or so and try again

AnonymousSeptember 16th 2013.

I'm afraid I'd have to agree that it is overpriced and unfortunately when a customer raised this in quite a polite way on Saturday they were spoken to in a very rude way. They were defensively asked how much they expected to pay and then told that the price they suggested (£1.20 for a tea) meant she must go to greasy spoons all the time. Me and my friends had already said between us that £2.20 for a tea was too much and especially as it is more expensive than some of the coffees. £4.50 for a sausage sandwich with no drink seems too much too. It seemed obvious to me that this had been raised a few times and the staff were defensive about it. Being ethical to employees is totally laudable but it doesn't need to come at the cost of good service especially when being asked legitimate questions by customers who no doubt want the venture to succeed. I have to also say that the coffee I had was acceptably priced at £2 but was served almost cold. I was looking forward to this opening but would not recommend it and would think twice about going back.

AnonymousSeptember 16th 2013.

I was very excited about this venture when I first heard about it and I enjoyed my first visit on Saturday. The cafe was busy and the staff that served me were friendly and helpfully provided recommendations. Unfortunately I was also witness to the conversation about the price of the tea (which I would agree was slightly overpriced at £2.20 - there are numerous of independent vendors nearby in Chorlton that provide much cheaper options and their staff do not on the surface seem exploited - however I may be wrong). The member of staff that had a previously been very friendly got a little bit defensive - which could possibly have been interpreted as rude (arguably a little like some of the Caffeine Co responses on here) - to the customer (who had been very polite). This left a bitter edge to our visit. I will be back though and will support this venture as I think it brings another facet to the already brilliant Longford Park. I won't be having a brew though and I'll assume from the glowing report in this article that the lukewarm coffee as just an anomaly and not a regular occurrence (I also hope the business learns how to graciously accept criticism and maybe think about how to promote the ethical nature of the business in a non-patronising way).

AnonymousSeptember 17th 2013.

'Nice' is a good way to describe it. We had lunch here a few weeks ago, the coffee was good, the bagel was 'nice' and the cake was pretty disappointing (quite dry and as an occasional home baker I feel disappointed if I pay for something not as good as the things I can make myself.) We found a seat outside as it was a sunny day, but didn't see many seats inside, so not sure how things will work when the weather gets worse?

AnonymousSeptember 26th 2013.

The coffee at the cafe is always served to body temperature, it is not done as hot as chain coffee stores serve there coffee as the hotter milk becomes, the more the texture and taste is compromised. It will also defeat the thousands of man hours that goes into getting that coffee into the country, roasted, bagged and delivered to the customer. Again, going back to chain stores, a lot of chains offer tea in the £2 region (some more some less) for tea in a tea bag. The cafe serves loose leaf tea which is regarded as much higher quality serving of tea, as they are endevouring to serve the best quality possible. I only post this based on the experience of understanding the drive behind the cafe and what they are trying to achieve. If, and some people will, find fault with the product or the service, positive feedback will always be listened to, but I think it must be based on an understanding of what they are trying to do here. As stated previously, Im sure it would have been a lot easier/cheaper to do something with no integrity, and with no desire to try to offer the best they can. BUT for a cafe that has been open just over 2 months and the progress it has made in that time, I believe the cafe will learn from its experiences so far and only aim to improve on them.

BobJuly 3rd 2014.

I'm very disappointed in this cafe - partly because the drinks are so expensive (£2.50 for a small cup of coffee!) and partly because I have found the staff unfriendly and rude, with an attitude problem. A few weeks ago they forgot our order and were unco-operative and unapologetic when I said that we couldn't wait any longer and asked for my money back; on my last visit my change was £5 short, and when I queried it they refused to give me attention, and it was only after a lengthy discussion that they reluctantly handed me the full change. I think they should really do some kind of course is customer relations skills.

AnonymousJuly 4th 2014.

I also had high hopes for this place, but it was rammed full of entitled Chorlton Mums with their screaming brats. Service was s-l-o-w and rude. I expect someone to have a reasonable command of English when serving me in the UK. For all people moan about Starbucks etc, at least the service is friendly and consistent. Waiting 10+ mins for an espresso at 12pm takes the piss

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