Muddy Loves: Coffee Architects, Leamington Spa
One of Leamington's most popular haunts is so much more than a coffee house with brilliant brunches, super-duper cakes, stylish interior design and lots of personal touches.
My hairdresser in Leamington first tipped me off about Coffee Architects in Warwick Street, not long after it opened in the summer of 2014. A bit of a hipster, he enthused infectiously about the coffee, the cakes – “the best in Leamington” – and the amazing salads. As a coffee lover I couldn’t resist.
This small Scandi-style independent family-run cafe is always busy and the Flat White, served in a glass tumbler on a turquoise saucer, is just the best.
Coffee Architects is a firm favourite in a spa town crammed with great independent cafes like Larder 23 (Portland St), the award-winning deli Warwick Street Kitchen and newly-opened The Steamhouse with bagels made from Charlecote flour (both further up the same road), fine dining restaurants, as well as popular chains Wagamama, Turtle Bay, Yo! Sushi and American diner, Bill’s.
Lively Warwick Street, characterised by its white-washed Georgian architecture, is one of the main roads off The Parade in the town centre and home to an eclectic range of vintage shops, boutiques, barbers’, a Cuban restaurant, an independent burger joint, cool bars and diners. Coffee Architects is a 5-minute walk from the main high street – spot the green C sign hanging above.
The owners’ warm and friendly service accounts for their devoted local following. Two lovely window seats either side of the front door are, cosy and bijou with Nordic-inspired scatter cushions. Straight ahead are an array of stylish tables and benches, a tiny glass vase of fresh flowers on each. It’s all very Hygge: minimalist design, snug and intimate with good roasted coffee and a well-done menu. For a post-hangover brunch the Avo toast, (avocado, tomatoes & egg on brown toast) feels healthy and rejuvenating; if you’re in the mood for something sweeter and more indulgent with a strong Americano, how about an extra long pain au chocolat? They’re huuuuuuge!
Savour the aroma of roast Arabica, speciality teas and home-made bakes. The brilliantly-named Ethiopian Cheleletktu Yirgacheffe freshly-roasted bean comes highly recommended. There’s always a vibrant mix of customers – Warwick University students, urban trendies, families, cake-lovers and artisan coffee connoisseurs. You’ll often have to queue for a table, particularly on a Saturday or Sunday brunch, and there’s not much room in between tables for prams. But if you have time, it’s well worth the wait. A daily specials chalkboard is updated throughout the day with more-ish breakfasts, fab brunches and lunch, catering for various dietary needs.
The decidedly decent cakes are in the words of Keats, ‘A thing of beauty’. You almost want to walk in just to admire them. I counted 8 different varieties of cake -£3 – £3.50 for a generous slice – including Blueberry & Lemon, Cake of the Day (Mango & Coconut), Oreo, Coffee & Walnut loaf, Rocky Road Cheesecake, Salted Caramel with ginger & pecan, Snickeroonies & Sticky Toffee Fudge. Plus, there’s several more with gluten-free ingredients.
The mere thought of sharing a slice of Snickeroonies during one half-term had my teenage daughter and friend shrieking in anticipation on the car journey. Sadly, they never got to experience the joys…It’s closed on Mondays. That’s poetic justice for you. Luckily, we discovered Swirls, a new-ish Italian gelato parlour at 53 Warwick Street.
Mr Muddy and I went for Sunday brunch with our 7-year-old who had her heart set on sharing a slice of Black Velvet cake – luckily, before it sold out – with a babyccino in a bottle.
We shared a very tasty Royale Mac ‘n’ Cheese from the Specials board (£8.95). Our brilliant waiter Elijah was super helpful.
One Friday morning my friend and I popped in after a yoga session, but felt so virtuous after an hour-and-a-half of downward facing dogs we simply ordered a bowl of wholesome Mexican bean soup and a cappuccino each. The soup was rich and spicy; it came with a miniature bowl of chickpea salad and tortilla wrap.
It’s child-friendly too. On a previous visit two friends and I took their three-year-old son for a *little* treat. They drooled over the cake counter, eventually deciding on the Passion Fruit and Carrot, and a slice of Lime and Pistachio. My frugal friend, who goes out with a flask of tea and collects ‘free drink’ National Trust vouchers, couldn’t believe it when the waiter said there’s no charge for children’s toast, butter and jam.
On that occasion as it was busy inside we went into The Not So Secret Garden – a small, walled courtyard, adorned with multi-coloured fairy lights. We sat inside a heated wooden ‘hut’ on a comfy cushioned wooden bench. Blankets are provided. It was still mild then, and the sun was out.
Even the chic dark-grey painted loo has a Hygge feel about it, with big bunches of lilies, daffs and burning candles.
Nearby there’s lots of lovely boutiques, a Neal’s Yard, cutting-edge hairdressers, independent interior stores, a Farrow & Ball paint shop, and tiny art galleries to mooch around. If you’re with children you may want to trot down to Jephson Gardens, where there’s an enclosed riverside play area and Leam Boating Centre. Leamington Art Gallery and Museum, inside the Royal Pump Rooms, the Arte Pottery cafe in Regent Street or The Royal Spa Centre are also close by if you’re in the mood for some culture.
Coffee Architects, 39 Warwick Street, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV32 5JX. Tel 01926 3399955. Open Tues to Sat, 8am – 5pm, Sun, 9am – 4pm