Café Coho, Ship Street – The Lanes
Located in the heart of the South Lanes, this little café is truly one of the best. It’s actually won an award for Brighton’s ‘Best loved café’ and it’s easy to see why. I used to walk past it on my way to work every morning, and there were always people that sat enjoying a morning coffee outside even though it was about 8:30am! Despite it being a busy Sunday afternoon on my visit, the café maintained a warm, relaxed atmosphere – definitely a plus considering it’s sure to be packed out most of the time due to its location. On entering I was met with rustic charm. Wooden floors, cakes out on platters and wine bottles decorating the wall. There were a wide range of drinks to choose from and I went for a skinny iced latte, whilst my friend went for a cappuccino, and we treated ourselves to a slice of carrot and orange cake too. The café also does savoury food, which unfortunately I didn’t get to try, but I did see it being handed to other customers and it looked incredible – a lucky lady receiving a generous plate of scrambled eggs and avocado on toast caused me an extreme case of lunch envy! We sat outside as it was a beautiful sunny day, and it was fantastic; perfect for people-watching, but the best part was that despite the central location it was undisturbed – I find that in some of the café’s in the North Lanes you can end up almost being part of the crowd when you’re sat outside.
Coho’s house blend is Revelation from Union Hand Roasted and in their words it is a ‘phenomenal dark roast expresso giving complex floral aromatics, ripe red fruit notes of cherry and a dark caramel treacle-like body.’ Now, I’m certainly no expert on coffee, but what they’re serving is pretty good; strong yet light and with a hint of sweetness to round it off. My iced latte was perfect; and my friend assured me the cappuccino was equally as good. The cake, although pricey at around £3.85 a slice, was delicious – often you’ll find very similar (if not the same) type of cake in Brighton cafés, but this one was different. You also get a pretty hefty slice of the stuff too! Servings of savoury dishes looked to be pretty decent too so no chance of going hungry here. I think the best part about this place is the central location; it’s easy to reach from Churchill Square, North Lanes as well as the seafront and so if you’re craving a decent coffee when in town you can get here quickly. There is an upstairs, and two downstairs rooms (which are quite small) as well as the outside seating, so plenty of room.
Perfect for: people watching, decent coffee when you’re on the go and delicious breakfasts.
Food: Breakfast, salads, sandwiches, cakes and pastries.
Not ideal for: The two downstairs rooms are quite small and so maybe not ideal if you’re with the kids at the weekend as it can get busy.
Additions: They also serve wines, beers and champagnes from Hepworth Brewery along with cured meats and cheeses and are open until late.
Link to website: http://www.cafecoho.co.uk/
Metrodeco, Charlotte Street – Kemptown
Metrodeco is well known to some Brighton folk, but I still think it’s completely under-rated for how fabulous it is! It truly is one of the must-see café’s in Brighton, nestled in Kemptown at the top of St.James’ Street. Whether you’re here for a visit, looking for somewhere to host a birthday, or simply after a relaxing setting and a good cuppa, it’s got you covered. Echoing vintage vibes through its eclectic mix of furniture, crockery, artwork, music – and even the staff style – Metro sticks out from the average coffee shop. It’s cosy, but it adds to the atmosphere of the place; it’s sociable, warm and welcoming. Head downstairs to the toilet and you’ll see antiques scattered about and rails of vintage clothes for dressing up. This recently revamped room is for hosting the hoards of hen do s and larger parties they get here. Special occasion parties can have dancing lessons, vintage makeovers and enjoy a glass or two of processco! The café has recently started serving tea-infused cocktails too, which I was lucky enough to try at the recent Brighton food festival. You can choose between fruity fresh tea infused vodka or earl grey gin – I don’t think I could pick a favourite!
They serve a whole host of teas, as well as standard coffees. You can choose between a selection of traditional black teas, as well as green, oolong, infusions, white teas and speciality blends! The place is known for its afternoon teas which consist of finger sandwiches, scones, quiche and a selection of cakes and pastries plus as much tea as you wish. I often head straight for the tempting looking cakes on the counter, all locally made. If you aren’t a sweet person then there are salads, sandwiches, toasties and pork pies for those craving a savoury fix. Pots of tea can set you back up to £3.20 but most are around £2.60 – which is not bad at all when you get about 5 cups out of them. The hefty slices of cake (there are often vegan options on offer too) are large enough for two to share and definitely make a decadent treat. This vintage-vibed, friendly Brighton haunt really is a treat on the eyes, ears and tastebuds, and certainly worth plodding up through Kemptown to find.
Perfect for: quiet afternoons, relaxed cocktails, birthday afternoon teas or hen-do’s!
Food: Afternoon teas, sweet treats, savoury goodies and light lunches or breakfasts.
Not ideal for: due to its size it’s pushed for space at weekends – best worth booking in advance if your hearts set on an afternoon tea.
Additions: Dogs are very welcome here – in fact you can buy posh doggie treats as well as many of the teas Children are welcome but it’s not really great for the littler ones – there are no high chairs or changing facilities. They also offer a gluten free afternoon tea option.
Link to website: www.metro-deco.com
Angel Food Bakery – The Lanes
Now, this is a must-see café due to its AMAZING cakes. The place is tiny – in fact, it’s pretty much a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ kind of place. It’s nestled in the heart of the South Lanes, on Meeting House Lane, so makes an ideal pit-stop for those wanting a sugar fix whilst out shopping. You can sit down inside – although there aren’t many tables and it is very small which isn’t ideal if there are queues as you’ll be close to other customers, however this is mainly an issue on weekends. During the weeks when it’s quieter you can enjoy your cake undisturbed. They do serve coffee, tea and a variety of soft drinks, but it really is the cake that you’ll come here for. When you enter, it’s a bit like the sweet shop scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, only with cakes everywhere instead of sweets. The prices here are another pull. You pay just over £2 for a decent sized cupcake to eat in. Brownies and slices of cake are slightly more expensive, but again, well priced and you get a decent portion for your cash. They even do 90p mini cupcakes – so those on a diet can also enjoy a little sweet treat. Plus they are really, really cute!
I’ve been here quite a few times and never been disappointed. The lemon drizzle is absolutely delicious (and the slices are HUGE) and the carrot cake cupcakes are also delightful. I’ve also tried one of the mini cupcakes and the strawberry and cream cupcake which were lovely. I’ve also heard that the chocolate peanut butter brownies are to die for – they’re definitely next on my list to try. They also do vegan cupcakes which look great.
One of the best bits about Angel Food, and one of the reasons I included it as a must-see Brighton café, is the fact that all the cupcakes are freshly baked on-site – you can often smell the aroma of freshly baked sponge on entering. You can tell this from the cakes. They don’t have that industrially produced look or taste – they aren’t sickeningly sweet, and no two look exactly the same. Many Brighton cafes will import their selection of sweet goods from local bakers which is fantastic, but I think there’s an attractive, honest quality to being able to see in through the small window next to the counter into the kitchen and smell the baking. They also have their own Angel Food Kitchen round the corner in Brighton Square where you can take baking lessons and buy any baking or decorating good that your heart desires.
Perfect for: Well-priced and delicious CAKES!
Food: Cupcakes, slices, mini cupcakes, brownies… sweet baked goods.
Not ideal for: If you’re looking for a relaxing sit-down setting to enjoy your cake you may be disappointed. The décor isn’t particularly inspiring and it is VERY small, so there’s not always space available. However, it’s lovely if you do stumble in in a quiet period.
Additions: Vegan baked goods.
Link to website: http://www.angelfoodbakery.co.uk/
Little Bird Café, Kensington Gardens – North Laines
Little Bird is an old favourite of mine. I’ve been in Brighton 4 years and I think I only discovered this place one or two years back but since the first time I popped in I’ve always made an effort to go back every so often because it really is a true Brighton gem. It’s nestled in the North Laines on Kensington Gardens – one of the busiest Brighton streets – but it provides welcome respite from the crowds outside on the weekends, and a quiet retreat on weekdays. It first lured me in by the delicious looking cakes they have displayed in the window, and on entering you’ll find a snug but comfortable interior. Think rustic wooden floors and tables – nothing particularly original so to speak, but stylish and inviting. You can enjoy a range of savoury delights here such as sandwiches, as well as huge slices of three-tiered cake, or according to their website the ‘most photographed cake in Brighton.’ I’ve tried the banana and chocolate, which is to die for, and they often have vegan options too. Coffee here is great, with exceptional latte art always performed… But, more attractive to me than the food is the laid-back, pleasant atmosphere and friendly service in here. Throughout my last year of uni when I was really stressed, heading to Little Bird for a latte and well-earned slice of cake was a bit of a life-saver. Like most café’s in Brighton it’s not exactly kind to your purse – a slice of cake and a coffee will set you back just over a fiver, but it is worth it for the great setting (the people watching here is fantastic) and a relaxing atmosphere. It’s perfect for a catch up with friends or a quiet afternoon coffee alone. Be careful though, it does get very busy on weekends There have been times when I’ve tried to go in but been unable to snag a table.
Perfect for: Those craving a relaxing atmosphere (on weekdays) and delicious cake.
Food: Sweet treats, cake and sandwiches.
Not ideal for: If you’re wanting somewhere quiet on a weekend don’t head here as it’s often packed.
Additions: Vegan cake!
Link to website: https://littlebirdbrighton.wordpress.com/
Feature Photo by Kevin Botto