South East

Workhouse Coffee Company, Reading

9 August 2008

Reading isn’t even a city but it finds space for a handful of great indie coffee shops.  The Workhouse Coffee Company was my third stop in what is arguably England’s largest town, and it’s yet another smashing place.

Workhouse Coffee, Reading Workhouse Coffee, Reading

“Workhouse” is an appropriate name for this spartan, no frills coffee house.  It is charmingly unpretentious, with scratched old tables and murky bar stools.

And what’s this? A map of the world. I always thought I’d have one of those in my coffee shop, if I ever decide to set one up (chances are I will prefer to stay a customer). I am enamoured instantly by touches like this, and to the sunken pot of scrabble letters in the middle of my table.

Workhouse Coffee, Reading Workhouse Coffee, Reading

These little extras, and the barren interior, are welcomingly unique. It is the antithesis of chain coffee houses.

But best of all is the coffee, which is excellent (I had a machiato, strong and tasty). There is a big range, and the baristas take great care in their preparation.

Workhouse Coffee, Reading Workhouse Coffee, Reading

The counter service is friendly and there are tasty fresh pastries on offer (a perfect compliment to a strong cuppa). Bags of freshly ground coffee are on sale, and I wonder why more places don’t offer the same.

Somehow they occasionally fit live music into this fairly small room.

Workhouse Coffee, Reading Workhouse Coffee, Reading

A down-to-earth place that is all about the coffee, and unexpectedly brilliant.

Well done Reading; a haven for independent coffee shops.

335 Oxford Rd
RG30 1AY


We visited on 9 August 2008.

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  • Andy 8 December 2009 at 11:19 am

    You should revisit it as the recent refit has made it even better. Very cosy, fantastic fresh bread, pastry and most important great coffee.
    (PS the maps still there lok up at the ceiling!)

  • Dan 22 July 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Had been meaning to try this place for ages.. Coffee was excellent, really can’t fault it at all – rich, strong, incredibly smooth, possibly one of the best coffees I think I may have ever had!
    Sampled their paninis and pastries whilst there and they were also very good. I’ll be going back for sure!

  • Richmond Locksmiths 16 September 2010 at 9:35 am

    The pots of scrabble letters in the table is just awesome, i hope more coffee shops adopt this!

  • Keith S 20 March 2011 at 9:39 am

    WCC have opened a branch on King Street in the centre of Reading. I had an excellent flat white, the layout of the cafe and friendliness of the staff was top notch.

  • xin 17 May 2011 at 1:53 pm

    This is by far the best coffee i’ve had in Reading, their cappuccino never fails to please. Had an excellent workman’s sandwich today, rather pricey but well worth it, and the burger had a surprisingly moreish sauce! Great range of cakes for those with a sweet tooth, and the staff are amazing, make awesome recommendations about the food too. But the bottom-line: BEST COFFEE IN TOWN!

  • Phil Carter 14 September 2011 at 4:54 pm

    No where in Reading or surrounding area comes close to the coffee and knowledge you will find at either Workhouse in Reading!

  • sandra 8 August 2014 at 5:46 pm

    My friend and I went to the coffee shop with her child and on leaving she tasted her americano only to find it was too weak for her liking, she reluctantly went back and asked them to make a stronger one or add a shot to her drink and was stunned when the oldest Barista (assuming he might’ve been the manager) refused as it was fine as it was and meant to be like that. He then went on about the legal caffeine requirement, temperature, type of coffee and accused us of walking off with free coffee ( we were holding our pre-bought takeaway cups), said she’d used the water (which is in jugs for customers) and how she’d taken the straws (two of them, one dropped by the child). All this in public, in front of her child, and she is one of the most mild mannered people. After the public humiliation he eventually made an Americano with less water which was exactly what she wanted. Please take your custom elsewhere. . or NEVER DARE TO COMPLAIN!!