Nestled amongst the charming boutique cellars of Exeter quayside, and away from the hustle and bustle of the centre of town lies a coffee shop like no other. The Coffee Cellar, independently run, not only sells the yummiest treats around, but also lends itself as an oasis of calm and comfort in such an exuberant city.
I believe it was towards the end of my first term in my first year studying at Exeter when I haphazardly stumbled upon The Coffee Cellar (I regret that even took me that long!). My family were visiting and, naturally, I took them on a ramble towards the picturesque Quayside, a must-visit place on any weekend spent in Exeter. As we wandered along, perusing the many craft and jewellery shops, we noticed that right at the very end was a place where we could rest our feet and replenish our stomachs.
Immediately apparent is the fact that The Coffee Cellar is worlds away from the commercialised chains of cafés which adorn the high street. The décor is a hotchpotch of fairy lights, vintage lampshades, chunky wooden tables and stools, and slightly tatty red leather sofas that certainly wouldn’t look out of place in a 1930s Hollywood film backdrop. This Bohemian style grants the place a quirky and cosy atmosphere, one in which you do not question the balls of wool and knitting needles subtly placed on tables for the customers’ own amusement. (Knitting + cake…what could be better?)
Yet this place certainly isn’t style over substance; far from it! Their milky hot chocolates rival of any other I have tasted and the hot, fresh Paninis really do tide you over in the lunch hour. Although the snacks may seem a little pricey at £4 or so for Panini’s and £3.50 for milkshakes, the quality of the food and drinks really does justify it. An array of homemade cakes and flapjacks is forever sitting on the counter and, after trying their infamous Carrot cake with black treacle, I deny you to resist such temptations.
The Coffee Cellar certainly projects the impression of genuinely caring for its customers. The staff are laid-back and friendly, blankets are available if you wish to sit outside (in the unpredictability of the West Country’s weather front this is almost a necessity), and service is consistently quick and straightforward.
Still somehow unconvinced as to whether this place is worthy of a visit? If nothing else, The Coffee Cellar is deserving of your time simply because they play such good music. Think Fleetwood Mac, Crowded House, early Adele and Katie Melua: the perfectly chilled and mellow accompaniment to that dreamily frothy Latté you are sipping, whilst flicking through their eclectic selection of magazines and watching the world go by on the waters.
The verdict: The Coffee Cellar is truly one of a kind and a favourite haunt of mine in Exeter; give it a go and I will put money on it becoming one of yours too.
by Sinéad Buckingham, Razz Exeter Correspondent