Black Goo, Buckingham
‘Converted garage’ doesn’t sound like the most promising start, but trust me, this place is gorgeous. Nab the cosy sofa over in the corner under the mirror and watch the world go by from this achingly hip, light and airy cafe. Inspired by coffee shops in the coolest of hangouts – Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Stockholm, it all comes accompanied by top notch coffee and indie soundtrack. Make mine a chilli cheese toast with fried eggs… mmmm.
Chiltern Velo Cafe, Hawridge Common
Those bum-weary cyclists need a comfy seat and ample refreshment after hours thrashing it out on the local tarmac, and Chiltern Velo has just that (plus a fully kitted workshop and experts to chat to about your cycling queries). The cafe has a changing menu of homemade soups, salads and quiches, fresh bread, pastries, sandwiches, and of course oodles of cake. There’s cushions and armchairs to cosy up on and plenty of walks nearby around the Chilterns AONB if you’re not the two-wheeled kind.
As the name suggests, this is a super-chilled place – a little haven of calm above the bustle of Henley’s chi chi shopping streets. Sink into the coffee sack cushions and choose from the artisan coffee menu or try one of the more out-there lattes (blue mermaid or lavender and apple anyone?) or bonkersly indulgent shakes. There’s also bagels – make mine an avocado and grilled pineapple – plus drool-worthy cakes.
Front Room, High Wycombe
So, it’s got sofas and armchairs just like your front room, but you probably don’t also have the jungle of monstera and house plants, the graphic murals, epic coffee, smoothies, milkshakes, toasties, muffins and cakes PLUS an ever-changing roster of events and workshops from live music to sushi making and drag nights. No wonder it scooped the best cafe title in last year’s Muddy Awards.
Barn Kitchen, Prestwood
Meanwhile, this year’s Muddy Award winning cafe, Barn Kitchen, at Peterley Manor Farm, is less than a year old but already has a loyal fan base thanks to its seasonal changing menu, local produce and cosy corners. We love the shakshuka for brunch – dipping toast into a rich tomatoey stew, and for lunch it’s got to be the lamb chips with tomato and chilli jam.
The Milk Shed, Weston on the Green
The Milk Shed is all about sourcing the freshest ingredients from local farms and creating colourful, enticing dishes with it – like Tuscan vegetable stew, or strawberries and cream French toast. It’s the passion project of owner chef Lucie Ellis, who catered all over the world before opening her own venture. Find a comfy corner inside or cuddle up in the cute dining sheds with fur-covered picnic benches.
This community-launched store and cafe is the sort of place everyone wants in their village, from the locally roasted Missing Bean coffee from Oxford to the sourdough from Mark’s Cotswold Bakery in Chipping Norton to the homemade cakes. Cosy up on one of the cushion-lined benches and not only are you indulging in a great coffee but you’re supporting local (it’s currently owned by around 120 local stakeholders) and you can take the makings of a delicious meal home with you from the deli counter. Win, win!
Homeground, Milton Keynes
This stylish and welcoming coffee shop is part of the YMCA building in Central Milton Keynes, and employs the YMCA residents, giving them work experience and training. It also serves cracking coffee and has a lot of cosy seating areas plus simple food that’s delicious and good value.
Megan’s has brought its King’s Road vibes to Marlow with this latest outpost offering its all-day dining cosy, everyone welcome (including the pooch) thang. Expect organic coffee, superb brunch dishes (we like the pancakes on a day-after-the-night-before-day) plus there’s cocktails if you get really carried away.
Common Ground, Oxford
Want to know where the students hang out in Oxford? Look no further than Common Ground – strapline ‘Less lonely than your room, more hipster and engaged with society than your college library!’. A shared work and study space, event and workshop venue and cafe, this place is buzzy. Just don’t expect chichi – there’s definitely a student vibe here, but it’s friendly, easy-going, the coffee is good and no-one will be hurrying you to vacate your table – you’re on student time now…
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