Monthly Archives: March 2013

GFD: From Our Cafe Correspondent – Summersault, Rugby


Slipping into the mug of insanity

Stopped at Summersault on the way to the JobCentre, some hint of fragrance to keep the mood high, or a least high enough to correct my National Insurance number multiple times without seeping into an uncomfortable chair, merging with the course upholstery and attempting some misguided transcendence into a human moth ball.

The hat rack screams at me to look. I’ve not the attire to bestow anything upon it, so I sit in my coat. Trinkets, lampshades, deep red chairs with swirling arms litter the dark wooden floor. A jazz band is playing later on, says a hand-drawn poster. I didn’t know this town knew about jazz. I imagine Joseph K. ambling into this cosy hole and causing a ruckus, not that the ruckus would stand out from the other bustling going on. The terrifyingly absurd narratives seem to dance around, riding streams of light, settling on velvet.

The doorway was nothing special from the outside – a set of brass hinges and a heavy swing, one way only – but that door has transported me from the grey outside into this labyrinth of nostalgic kitsch. The only grey that suggests the town outside, ee(a)rily steams from my mug, a mug specifically different from all the other mugs hung up behind the bar and in other peoples’ hands. One of the hanging mugs is in fact simply a mug handle, hung up. My first clue.

I remember asking for a job in this place once. If only I had read Kafka’s The Castle before this point, I could have saved myself the trouble, or prepared myself better than a simple curriculum vitae. Only a squirming but driving external force coupled with a romantic encounter behind the bar could land a job in this place. Something – perhaps the cinnamon sprinkles clinging to the insides of my mug –  tells me that such a force could indeed be discovered, somewhere in the rafters of this high ceilinged coffee house, the mystery of where exactly it lies, just a few nonsensical turns away. Maybe I’ll fall over on the way to the toilet, a perfect starting point.

I take out my notepad and begin to write. Soon enough, K. is rapping me on the head with his walking stick, for why should I wear my coat when the clearly vacant hat stand is quite adequately placed next to the entrance? Whatever is wrong with me, he seems to think can be fixed with a few sharp strokes with a benevolent hand extension. I don’t look forward to when he finds out they don’t serve meat here. He looks slightly perplexed, but then so do most of the other folk. Tea is vegetarian by the way.

Soon enough, my drink has been drunk. I stand up, not before bumping into the underside of the table; it’s eccentricities do not seem to stop with that which can be seen. It most certainly knows not the insult of chewing gum, nor even the term. I leave through the same door I came in, back to the grey monotonous cold and sterile paper cups, droll faces and angry wails from slightly bearded faces. A successful trip indeed, with a wonderful ambience, if a little intoxicating. They just need to work on the context.

by James Alabaster


GFD: From Our Cafe Correspondent – Martin Coffee Shop, Da-an District, Taipei, Taiwan


It was a pleasure that our friend Sophie, who has been working in Philippines, came back to Taiwan. We had the best Thai food we’ve ever had for lunch and chatted about Cloudia’s new boyfriend. After the meal, we decided to have some coffee because no one wanted to end this interesting conversation.

We went to Martin Coffee Shop which was a block away from the Thai restaurant. The waitress led us to the mezzanine and handed us the menu. She seemed to know coffee well and asked every one of us for the precise desired coffee strength when taking our orders. The price was a little higher than we expected, but we found out it was worth it after the coffee was served. The waitress recommended me the Brazil Santos coffee since I was looking for something with a fruity fragrance, and it did taste great. Every cup of coffee came in beautiful Wedgwood china which made the coffee even better. A good cup of coffee, a cozy coffee shop and some good friends can make an ordinary Thursday afternoon more beautiful than ever.

by Jeong Liz

GFD: Foxcroft & Ginger, Soho


After a morning of sending emails destined never to be replied to, I decide to head out into a faint hearted blizzard of snow that doesn’t settle, but has no qualms about stinging one’s face. I wander through the side streets of Soho (no, not those ones…) trying to find my new office, my new office being whatever café I decide to drink tea in. On this occasion it is Foxcroft and Ginger, a place fabled within the realm of food blogs and Instagram records. After proving that my navigational skills are still terrible by walking straight past it, I finally enter the rather agreeable interior and order a blueberry and custard muffin with a tea.

At the table I begin to draw what I imagine to be the interior of a café in Teignmouth, copying Cicero quotes and trying to memorise them in order to crack them out at dinner parties. The tea arrives, loose – just how it should be (although I’m not knocking tea bags) alongside the muffin, standing astute within its baking parchment ruff.

I push my fork downwards through the crumbly top, perhaps a little scared of what may ooze out. I wonder if I’ll be drenched in custard like in the Get Your Own Back nightmares of my childhood, with Dave Benson Philips screaming hysterically at me. Dave would be disappointed on this occasion however, for there is no ooze. I must admit that I was probably more excited than scared at the prospect of custard ooze, but I’m still pleased with the purchase, for the custard has been baked within the muffin to create a moist sponge and creamy flavour. Unsure of what to do next, I sit back and resign to the fact that on a snowy, directionless day like today, all one can hope for is moist, creamy flavoured sponge and loose tea.

by Chris 

GFD: Finley Browns, Teignmouth.


Competition for coffee superiority in Teignmouth is rife at the moment. Local antagonisms spill out into full blown turf wars manifesting in passive aggressive rants on cafe reviewing websites and social networking sites. But none of that here thank you, we welcome each new coffee shop into the broad and pert bosom of wonder that is street culture. The latest addition to Teignmouth’s coffee culture is Finley Browns, which is perhaps named after the notorious monocled one-armed busker that used to frequent these parts in the 19050s that I just made up.

I work over the road and have been gazing at Browns since it opened last weekend. A few days ago I came in but couldn’t afford a lemon and ginger tea. Since working full time my expendable income has dramatically plummeted, and I think we can all learn something from this. But while £1.75 for a fruit tea is not exactly expensive, tell that to the man who has £1.50 in his pocket.

‘This is the most happening place in Teignmouth at the moment,’ says a bloke to his buddy as they enter the café. Rival baristas will be concerned, as Finley promises to be around a while. You can still smell the paint and the tables are as clean and white as well maintained teeth. The faded blue and white furniture neatly clothes the room and makes it look a bit like a doll’s house. A couple of armchairs and sofas for the more potato-esque persons, and that is where I sit. On the walls we have some generic patisserie paintings, cracked to give the looked of aged authenticity.

‘Tis a fine place, the local fishermen would say. Not that they would come ‘ere – far too European, all this cappawoppadodacino. At least that’s the stereotype of the fisherman that I imagine, which I suspect is wildly inaccurate. Teignmouth was the last place in England to be conquered in 1690, so I am told; not by cafés, but by foreign powers. Now, the only onslaught comes in the form of a marauding army of tea bags flanked by a few divisions of coffee beans.

For me, old Finners a good place to break up the hum of work. A man whistles behind me and I realise that there is no music. But then I realise that I am mistaken, because there is music, it’s just very quiet and overpowered by the clinking of ceramics and the jolly folks and the chattering with their words and their laughing. In a week I go back to the haystack of London, and the quaintness of small town life will once again fade into memories, replaced by anonymity and uneasy recollections of bygone encounters.

by Adam


“That we do not get dizzy on a spinning world is proof that we are home. But the man who lives on a roundabout is an unwise man, plagued by dizziness, and very far from home.”