I've decided to do a very brief review each time I visit a cafe on a cycling trip. If I'm reviewing the coffee, it will always be an Americano, if that's on offer. Tea will be standard tea - nothing fancy!
I wish coffee shops would give sizes in actual liquid volume so that you don't have to ask - "Er, how big is a small/medium/large?"
Munch @ The Log Cabin at Southmoor (no website)
No website. Not a fancy cafe at all but service was good and friendly. Can't remember when I went here with cycling group, but this year sometime - I'm adding this in April. They didn't actually have an Americano on the menu but had "black coffee" for £2. Tasted like an Americano to me and was one of the best I've had, and it was the cheapest. And in a nice mug. Definitely 8/10. The best coffee is NOT always the most expensive.
No loos (although they kindly let me use the staff one).
Q Gardens farm shop and cafe, Steventon, Oxfordshire
Went here with my local cycling group. Not somewhere I'd have chosen to go simply because it wouldn't be on a route I'd choose really. No Americano on offer, so I went for the filtre coffee, which I'm always rather doubtful about, but I was pleasantly surprised. Although it wasn't quite hot enough (generally a problem with filtre coffee I find) it was a good flavour and texture, and for £1.70 a cup I wasn't complaining!
Plenty of space to lock up bikes (fence to lock them to) and decent loos.
UPDATE, JULY Went here again with my group, and they now have a new coffee machine, which produced one of the best Americanos I have had! Definitely 9/10! I believe it was a mere £2 as I had a small chocolate brownie with it and the total was £2.55!
I think you know a coffee is good when you sit there and enjoy it and just don't think about it at all. I knew it would be good when I saw it, unlike the one I had at Coleshill (see below) which just didn't look right - it left a dark stain on the cup which I have read is a bad sign.
Lots of home made ice creams of different flavours on offer in the shop which you can take through to the cafe.
We sat outside this time. There is a play area for children too.
Huddle at Stanford in the Vale
Again went with my local cycling group. I had a "large" Americano, for £2.25, which I would give 8/10. Nothing wrong with it really, but if I give it 10/10 then I haven't got far to go if I find a better one....!
I didn't use the loos but they do have them. Update April - have since used the loos and can report that they are very good! Nice and clean.
Nice and roomy, with mostly proper tables and chairs, but also one area in the window where there are settees around a low table.
Friendly staff. A selection of cakes, and sandwiches made to order, and cooked breakfast I think . They also sell some locally made preserves.
Plenty of room for bikes outside but nowhere to lock them to.
Farmhouse Bakery and Cafe, Steventon
Went with local cycling group again, though this time the 2* group as opposed to my usual leisurely
mid-week 1* group. A large Americano was £2.50, the most I have paid in recent months, and - the worst! I would rate it 5/10...... It was watery and had no crema at all, and wasn't hot enough, perhaps because we were upstairs and so it has to be brought up.
Good selection of cakes though, and see their menu for lunch and breakfast.
Nice clean toilets.
Plenty of bike racks.
The Faringdon Coffee House (no website)
Went here with my cycling group again. There were quite a lot of us so we had booked tables.
Large Americano, which actually I would call a normal size. £2.30, served in a nice mug - very good, 8/10. Also had a mini Danish pastry for £1, also very nice. This was all served on a silver tray, the pastry on a pretty plate, and with a small glass of water, which I have since learnt is common practice when serving espresso and is intended to cleanse the palate before drinking the coffee. You learn something new every day! Very nice cafe all round, friendly staff.
Some outside seating.
Did not look for a loo but I would guess there is one somewhere.
Bampton Garden Plants
I thought I'd try out the cafe here rather than going on another 3 miles or so to Aston Pottery, a very popular stop for cyclists and where I have had very good coffee in the past. UPDATE on Aston Pottery: See July.
I had a large Americano again, for £2.55, which beats the previous high of £2.50 at the Farmhouse Bakery at Steventon. It was also as bad........ And I have to say I don't like the cafe itself either. I know that this is a popular stop for cyclists in the faster groups in my local CUK Wantage, but I won't be going there again.
In its favour - there are lots of bike racks, under cover.
Toilets - I didn't look but I should think there would be some.
However, later in the day I went to
Cotswold Woollen Weavers, at Filkins
I was extravagent today - afternoon tea as well as morning coffee. I had a cream tea, which consisted of a warm fruit scone with jam and cream, and a pot of tea, with a lovely tea cup and saucer. I think it was £4.50 (I forgot to write it down). Ahhhhhhh, this more than made up for the rubbish coffee at Bampton. It was, as Pa Larkin of The Darling Buds of May would say - "Jus perfick!" I got three cups of tea out of the pot, perfect strength, didn't stew at all. And brought to me in their lovely garden.
No bike racks but there is plenty of space around the car park to leave bikes.
Toilets - nice, clean.
Cornerstone Christian Centre, Grove, Wantage
My regular mid-week group came here after our ride.
Large Americano, £2.25, served in the usual wide coffee cup. Excellent! And this one I would say really was a "large". I think I'll give this one 9/10. The only problem was that the cup was so full, and the coffee so hot (but not, I hasten to add, too hot) that it was difficult to lift it without spilling it. That's one reason why I don't like great big coffee cups but prefer mugs - they are easier to lift without spilling the contents. Maybe they would have given me a mug if I'd asked - I will next time.
Lots of delicious looking cakes on offer and if you look at their menu you'll see they do breakfasts and lunches too.
Toilet, nice, very clean.
No bike racks but plenty of room to park your bike. Can lock it to poles of nearby noticeboard if you want.
Carpenter's Canteen at Coleshill (National Trust)
Again came here with my cycling group.
Americano, £2.50. I don't think there was a choice of sizes or if there was I didn't see them. Anyway, I would describe mine as a small. Another bad one, horribly bitter. Such a shame as the cafe itself is lovely, both inside and out, where there are lots of tables in a quiet and peaceful setting. Others in the group had sandwiches or similar and they looked really good. There wasn't much of a choice of cakes.
There is also a secondhand bookshop here, which I would have liked to have had a longer browse in.
Very clean (and roomy!) toilets.
No bike racks but plenty of room to leave them.
Visited Aston Pottery on a solo bike ride. Very disappointed with the Americano ("large" but I would consider it "normal", £2) - another bitter tasting one. I'm not sure if I remember the last one incorrectly as being much better or whether it has changed, but anyway - didn't like it.
I also had a piece of carrot cake, for £3.25, and it was awful. Dry, fell apart when I stuck my fork in it, and the topping was some sort of sickly sweet stuff rather than the cream cheese icing that it should be. I can make better myself!!
I intend to complain. Will update on that! [Note: I did indeed complain, and received a voucher for free coffee and cake].
Plenty of room to lock bikes to the fence. Didn't visit the loos on this occasion but if I remember rightly they are clean.
1 - Last week our cycling group visited The Grocer Chef at Ardington just outside Wantage. This is a lovely village with an equally lovely shop and cafe, and very popular with all and sundry (not much "sundry" in this area though"....). They have lots of seating inside and plenty outside as well in the lovely garden. I can't remember the price of my Americano - !! - but it wasn't expensive, and it was very nice, and came in a mug (marvellous). Probably 8/10. I didn't have any cake but they do a good selection and there are meal menus on their website.
Nothing to lock your bikes to but plenty of room to tuck them away round the back.
Nice clean loos.
2 - Today I went on a ride to suss out a possible route for a future group ride, and that also involved sussing out a newish cafe in Shrivenham - Bloomfield's, which is also a deli.
Well, the previous high of £2.55 has been well and truly beaten, by 25p!!! £2.80 for an Americano! I think there was only one size and this was probably a large but even so - I'd expect a pint for that! I think that price is a real ripoff given the prices everywhere else. Or at least a free biscuit, which you get in some cafes. It tasted perfectly OK although had gone a bit less than hot when I got to it, but that was my fault not theirs.
There is seating indoors and out; I sat outside and realized two other cyclists had put their bikes there, though they were sitting inside. I then asked if I could bring mine round too, hence the coffee cooling. I had had to leave my bike on the pavement outside, locked just to itself, as the only other place to leave it was either across the road several yards down, where there were 3 bike racks (outside a house - eh??!!), or locked to the railings of a shop a few yards down on the same side, which wouldn't have seemed fair.
Loos - they had them but I didn't use them.
Humble Bumble Cafe at Brize Norton, Oxfordshire
I stopped here on the last day of my trip home from Derbyshire. I can't praise it highly enough! It only opened in August. Don't be put off by the humble looking sports and social pavilion building - inside it is very cosy and welcoming, and when I went it was sunny and there was plenty of seating outside, overlooking the playing fields.
I can't unfortunately remember the price of the americano I had, but it was a good one - at least 8/10, and served in a nice mug. I also had a bacon butty and a piece of banana cake. I was very hungry..... The ladies serving were lovely, and so was the very well behaved and good natured dog who sat with me and looked longingly at my bacon butty, but never pestered me. The whole lot cost me £10.10.
I didn't need a loo so didn't ask if there were any but I would have thought there would be some.