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” 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.
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.
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.
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
We visited on 9 August 2008.