As London’s coffee culture moves at light speed, with the likes of Monmouth marching across the terrain like caffeinated Kiwi warriors, and hole-in-the-wall cafes springing up in unlikely places, Maidenhead seems to have been overlooked by the destination-coffee house revolution. Costa, Nero and Starbucks don’t count. I drink their coffee, I sit in their cafes and I enjoy the illusion of atmosphere just like the rest of you, but it’s not the same as a proper coffee house. You won’t find the same ambience as a place that’s run by an impassioned individual with everything at stake, you won’t find quirky home-made treats, and you certainly won’t find a good cup of coffee.
In the midst of my ambience-angst and caffeine-fuelled frustrations I came across Coopers on Twitter. It’s in Marlow, and apparently they’re serious about their coffee. So I ventured over last week in search of Coopers and eventually found it, once I’d realised it wasn’t on the High St. Situated in a trading estate, on Fieldhouse Lane, Coopers Trading Company is a breath of fresh air on an industrial scale and you can tell they mean business when you see the massive roasting machine in the corner of the shop. Laura Perham from Coopers said, “The vision was to create a shop where all of this goes on around the customer – the equipment itself requires space and is industrial in essence, so here we are, in a industrial unit on an industrial estate, its seems the most natural place.” They’ve ticked all the boxes of what I consider to be a destination coffee house; welcoming atmosphere, home-made cakes, plenty of seating, Wi-fi, and when it comes to the most important part – the coffee – they’ve gone above and beyond my expectations.
Coopers is named after the dog, a black Labrador who roams around the place. Roasting their own beans means that the baristas can control the flavour and quality of their coffee and create a variety of blends to be brewed as an espresso, aeropress and chemex. The coffee I had was just a good old-fashioned cappuccino, my barista litmus test. It’s quite a skill to get the right amount of creme, froth, milk and all the rest, and I’ll happily admit that the guy behind the counter nailed it. It was probably the best coffee I’ve had since my last trip to London.
What I like best is that team at Coopers are trying really hard and it seems to be paying off. At an odd time of the morning, they had plenty of local people coming in for meals, coffee and there were plenty of ipads and laptops gracing the counters and tables. They recently launched a dinner menu, opening on Thursday and Friday evenings serving up an ever changing menu of seasonal dishes to keep things fresh and exciting. At the moment they have a sharing-style meal on their home-from-home range where, for example, a group of four all having the same dish will have a family sized casserole portion they can dig into. Tom looks after the drinks, and he’s chosen a selection of sharing beers from The Wild Beer Company amongst other carefully selected offerings.
In the name of research, I tried the brazil nut, cranberry and white chocolate blondie. And it was divine. All the sweet treats are made in-house by Kiwi-native Bridget. Baked on site, the selection might change from week to week but you can expect things like rocky road, apple frittata, passion fruit and banana loaf, carrot cake and caramel coconut slice. For those who aren’t able to simply walk to Coopers, don’t be afraid to park on the road, they have a few spaces out the front, and the roads around immediately surrounding have unrestricted parking and in the evening it’s no problem at all, because all their friendly neighbours have left for the day.
Coopers Trading Company, Ground Floor, Unit A, Meter House, Fieldhouse Lane, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, SL7 1LW, UK. Opening hours, Mon – Wed 6.30am – 4pm and Thurs & Fri 6:30am – 11pm.