Three independent cafés to visit in Berkshire and Surrey

Sunday, 25 October 2020

It's funny the ideas we have about our hometowns. I've now been living back at home with my family for the last three months, the first time I've been back for longer than a few weeks after two and a half years living in London. I felt an initial dread about being home and the prospect of visiting the same old shops, cafes and restaurants that have been in my area forever. In the past towns like Reading and Guildford haven't changed much and tended to be dominated by high-street chains, therefore wasn't particularly excited about coming back.

However, I'm pleased to say that my previous misconceptions have recently been proven wrong. It's amazing to see a number of high-quality and independent coffee shops, restaurants and cafes popping up all over the Berkshire and Surrey regions, providing a welcome break from the Prets, Costa Coffee and Starbucks of this world. 

It's not to say that there aren't some high-quality chains out there, quite the opposite. I'm not against high-street chains and I was impressed with the likes of Cosy Club and Zizzi recently for their brunch and lunch options. However, it undeniably feels better to support local businesses where you can, particularly if the food and drink on offer is unbeatable but even more importantly during a challenging and uncertain time for small businesses due to Covid-19.

So, here are three of my must-visit independent cafés in Reading and Guildford. I'm annoyed that I didn't manage to take pictures of all the places - how very un-blogger of me! Regardless, I hope you enjoy reading. Another on my list that I haven't the pleasure of visiting yet is Anonymous Coffee Tasting House in Reading so may very well update this post once I have a chance to try it!

Shed Café is a family-run coffee shop that does incredible sandwiches, soups, toasties, salads and sweet treats that is hidden off a main street in the centre of Reading. I only came across it recently as I was working at a shared workspace based nearby and the office manager offered to do an office run of lunches from the café, as they offer click and collect services as well as dine-in and takeaway options. 

I opted for the Top Toastie - a delicious sourdough toastie packed with sundried tomato, chorizo, spicy jalapeños and oozy mozzarella and I was really impressed. Quite the indulgent work lunch! I enjoyed it so much that on a walk outside the office later in the day, I headed straight back and ordered a coffee and Shed brownie to boot. And wow, the brownie. I have never tasted anything so fudgy and soft and chocolatey, absolutely incredible. My flat white was also delicious, even though I'd walked back a few minutes to the office with it. What's also cool for any other fans of indoor plants, they seem to host pop-up plant sales every few weeks which is another bonus! I'm excited to head back when I can!

It's rare that sitting outside for coffee makes you feel positively European when in fact, you're in Surrey. But one busy weekend, with a long-time friend from our year abroad in Spain, we nattered away, catching up over cappuccinos and people-watching from our little spot outside the front of Amor Amora, and it was perfect. Sitting just past the top of Guildford's cobbled high street, it's ideally located to find a moment of the calm from the shoppers a few steps away.  The coffee itself was everthing a cappuccino should be: frothy, creamy but a strong taste of coffee too. An absolute delight.

If you feel like having something a little fancier than an americano or latte, they have an extensive menu of speciality coffees such as Greek Frappé, Dolce Latte and Madagascan Hot Chocolate!  

The café also offers an extensive all-day European-inspired food menu which includes brunch, lunch, dinner and some incredibly looking desserts. I'm excited to return to try the food out next time!

Three independent cafés to visit  in Berkshire and Surrey

I came across Workhouse though Instagram and had been meaning to pay a visit since I moved back, and finally did recently! Located in one of the oldest buildings in Reading, the indoor interior is really warm and inviting and has the vibe of an old pub. They have an amazing selection of cake and pastries on display and you can see all the different coffee beans available as you walk inside.

Opting for my usual choice of flat white, it was beautiful, smooth and tasted slightly fruity which I love with coffee. Always a bonus when it looks a bit pretty too. I also tried one of their brownies with pecans which was indulgent, chewy and had lots of texture so a thumbs-up from me. Again, another I hope to become a spot I will visit more regularly as I was very impressed!

Three independent cafés to visit in Berkshire and Surrey

Are there any places you would recommend in Berkshire or Surrey that I should know about? Tell all in the comments!

Thanks for reading.

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Three Independent Cafés to Visit in Berkshire and Surrey

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