It could be said that I have a fondness for coffee shops…
What can I say? Coffee is good. I've recently found working in my flat resorts to unwanted procrastination in the form of naps and Mail Online. I am a 'background noise' worker. The library has disconcerting stillness, whereas the gentle hustle and bustle of a coffee shop is nice. I know a lot of people need complete silence, but it's finding whatever works for you.
However if, like me, you would rather express-o collection, I thought I would do a little round up of the places I have recently ventured to in Exeter, and how well their coffee woke up my study of poetry.
The Glorious Art House
Finally… this has been a long time coming! With its to-die-for pottery and quirky interior, it is Sophie in a shop. At the risk of sounding incredibly lazy, my inaugural trip here was delayed, in part, to the extra distance. Fore street is still unfamiliar territory to me; beyond M&S, Exeter houses a new and scary world! But I ventured, avec google maps, and found the much-hyped hotspot.
Thoughts? Well, waiting 20 minutes for a green tea isn't going to win them any awards in the fast-food category. It was accompanied with a profuse apology and offer of a complimentary drink after, but it turns out I was content to leave after my first (and very generously sized) pot of tea.
It isn't to say I didn't like it - sitting there with my tea-set I was in my element and did get a lot of reading done! However, I do feel hype left me slightly underwhelmed. I sat upstairs, and didn't feel quite at home. The dark blue walls made it seem darker, while the noise outside was hard to work over without resorting to iPod sounds.
The teacup, of course, was a big selling point. Part of the Anthropologie range, it is definitely on my wish-list. The book cycle is also a lovely touch; I just wish there had been more books decor around the place! I do think I will venture back, if not simply to try their coffee. Their lunchtime Moroccan tagine also looked pretty good, so maybe a lunch trip is needed too! For work purposes, however, I'm not sure I would choose it over other places.
Coffee Art: n/a
If we were basing this on number of trips, Artigiano's does win hands down! I confess to having been there three times in the space of a fortnight, accompanied by laptop and (one hefty) poetry anthology. I argue that my stamp card is happy, so in two stops time I will be sipping on a cup milky, espressoey deliciousness for free.
As far as coffee goes, it doesn't get much better than this. As far as work productivity goes? Similarly, I have found my actual word count moves along pretty swimmingly here. The noise level is perfect; not too high (surprisingly), but enough to stop to on-edge feeling, which library silence provokes in me. It's location is also pretty on point. Top tip: stay until around 6pm and, right next door, Boots will have put major discount stickers on their sandwiches… next-day lunch, for 35p? Feeling happy.
I only have one negative, really, and that is the coffee. Not the taste, which cannot be faulted. More that, unless you bolt it in 5 minutes flat, it goes cold so quickly. When you're paying £2.65 for an 8oz cup, you want to savour it! It also lacks the certain bookish charm of other places in Exeter. It is more trendy, ass opposed to quirky. But the seats are so comfy I don't even care. The fact you can get a table on a saturday afternoon, without relative ease, is another bonus.
Coffee Art: 5/5
I remember coming here once in 1st year, for takeaway iced coffees. For some reason, I've never ventured back. My love for Artigiano's and BTP coffee, in terms of taste, leaves me not wanting to take a £2.50 risk of disappointment! That being said, last Monday afternoon I ventured the Road Less Travelled By, behind Princesshay. Perhaps Robert Frost really had become all-consuming…
First thought: God those armchairs look comfy.
Second thought: Yay it's cheaper than Artigiano's.
Third thought: are those quotes on the walls?
Yes. Yes they are. It's looking good so far! Then I order my usual cappuccino, only to notice the small size is a definite upgrade from the quite dainty one of Artigiano's. As luck would have it, the far corner housed an Armchair, situated next to a bookshelf, that was still unclaimed… the stars were aligning. Now pray my essay would do the same.
The deadline was imminent, so I think my accelerating word count was more due to frenzied determination, than anything else. Nonetheless, as with Artigiano's the noise level is perfect, possibly even better as they don't play background music as loudly. Frustratingly, there was no Wifi - trying to read a Sylvia Plath interview, on your phone, isn't ideal.
The real test though… was the cup insulated? Important life question if there ever was one. In short, yes. I was able to savour my coffee for a good 15 minutes, before the lukewarmness set in and I proceeded to take the (wistful) last couple sips. The coffee was really nice, quite similar to Artigiano's. I'm not sure it quite rivals it, but I would definitely go again.
Overall, Artigiano's might have been challenged. When it comes to revision (during which time, unashamedly, plan to build up numerous loyalty cards), Coffee #1 will get a look in. It reminds me a bit of Devon Coffee, but I always think the latter will feel too cramped for work purposes. In terms of BTP, as much as I love it, the noise level is too high.
Coffee Art: 4/5
Like Mr Frost, Camper will always have a place in my heart. The fact they now do loyalty cards, four months after I originally inquired about them, is a welcome silver lining. This is the only place I go to for coffee on campus. Costa is nice, but I know I would sip it and, all the while, wish I were in another camp. As far as campus outlets go, this is the hidden gem.
The coffee art is pretty, Queen's Cafe (when you can get a seat) is comfy and the barristas are always friendly… apart from when they close 30 minutes early, because they have "something else to do". You broke a girl's heart that day Camper, and it took me a solid two days to forgive you.
Coffee Art: 4/5
Two essays, four poets, four thousand words, each of these places helped me along my way. Each time I buy coffee, I do feel guilty for the cost - I am anxious about things like that! But, for me, it as a more worthwhile investment than club Jagerbombs or 3am dominoes. To each their own. When it's good, you can't put a price on poetry or coffee…