Whose coffee is all froth and a has bean? And who makes the best cuppa in town? Main pic: vina_v/sxc.hu Beans pic:knox_x/sxc.hu Coffee Quarter pics: Phil Creighton
Coffee to the left of them, coffee to the right of them, coffee in front of them. Yep, it can only be Reading’s Coffee Corner.
With a baker’s dozen of beverage retailers packed into a few square metres of Reading’s retail scene, you’re spoilt for choice … but who gives the best bean for your buck? Have your say in our exclusive poll.
And to refresh your memory, here’s our Graham with a quick reminder. (They are in no particular order)
1. Costa Coffee
Small, but perfectly formed, this Costa branch is compact which can lead to congestion when queues form. Tables are – shall we say – cosy. Outdoor seating available.
The biggest coffee house is right on the corner and, thanks to some steps, higher up than the pavement so if you’re being nosy, you’re always looking in. Occasionally hosts live music – wish it was more than occasional.
Independent, unique and vibrant, Picnic is one of those places that The Guardian would rave about if it knew about it. Offering organic and fresh food as well as a cuppa (and plenty of Guardians to read), Picnic is always busy.
It looks like a greasy spoon and has been in Reading for years, but don’t let the facade fool you. Munchees is more than just a cafe: it also runs a Nepalese buffet in its upstairs section. Do you know anyone who has tried it? We don’t, but is always seems bustling.
5. Greggs The Baker
Not so much a cafe, more a way of life. Greggs is a small bakery that offers takeaway coffees. The choice is take it away or leave it (well, it’s actually black, white, cappuccino, expresso or latte) but at least it’s fairtrade. It also has some tables outside, which are sheltered by concrete.
6. Burger King
If you thought the choice in Greggs was sparse, wait until you get to Burger King. You can have a coffee or a coffee. It’s Douwe Egberts’ special blend and features in its Kings Savers menu – budget by any means.
7. The Alehouse
Next to Costa and West Cornwall Pasty Co, The Alehouse is unique in Coffee Corner because it’s the only beverage dispenser in the area that doesn’t specialise in coffee. Or tea. But you can get locally brewed beers and ciders. And banter. Well worth a visit.
8. West Cornwall Pasty Co.
With a name like that, you’d be forgiven for thinking they don’t do coffee, but they’re full of beans. And pasties. Take your pick and enjoy a cuppa either in its indoor seating area of outside on the pavement.
9. Bhel Puri House
Newly opened in the historic George Hotel, the Bhel Puri promises Indian street food – so it should come as little surprise that it offers Indian coffee as well as masala tea and cold coffee. You can also get English coffee for a quid.
10. Workhouse Coffee
Round the corner from Bhel Puri and part of the same George Hotel complex is Workhouse – a coffee shop that aims to be the coffee creme de la creme of all things caffeinated. Lots of freshly ground stuff and tasty pastries: no wonder they’ve been pondering dropping tea to focus purely on coffee.
Completing a trio of resatuarants in the George Hotel is Prezzo: a proper posh restaurant with pizzas, calzones, pasta grills and set lunch menus, you can be guaranteed a cuppa … at the end of your meal.
12. Patisserie Valerie
The new kid on the Coffee Corner block, Patiesserie Valerie has cake by the cakeload and coffees by the coffeeload. Coming here is a real treat if you can get a seat by the window and watch the world go by.
13. Pret A Manger
Ah, Pret, home to the Love Bar Latte: a chocolate, caramel biscuit-y treat with a subtle nutty aroma to finish according to its website. Best of all, 10p from every sale goes towards Pret’s charity that works with the homeless: the chain also donates leftover sandwiches to the homeless. It also serves organic coffee.