by Izzy Austen,
14 December 2015
I guess I should start off with the place most familiar to us Roehampton students, shouldn't I? The Hive Cafe is by far one of my favourite places to visit not only on campus, but in the area. I've even come in on days off for a cheeky drink.
Far from a chain establishment, the independently run Hive Cafe (with Nick and head barista Jess) offers higher quality coffee compared to that of the other coffee shops on campus. Although great if you're in a rush, I much prefer the flat whites and long blacks served up in the cute caravan. Saying that, the Hive doesn't act like some of the pretentious coffee shops dotted about South West London, and the staff won't roll your eyes if you order a flavoured latte as they offer a range of syrups alongside their main drinks.
I'm emphasising the shop in Kingston as this is obviously the one ‘closer to home' so to speak, but you can grab the 430 from Whitelands which will take you down the road from its whereabouts in Fulham High Street. Local Hero is definitely one of those places I would recommend if you're in dire need of a proper breakfast/brunch after a hard night at Bop. Saying that, the Kingston one especially tends to get extremely busy at peak times in coffee shops (so weekends 10am-1pm) and weekdays in a morning rush, so I would steer clear of these times.
They are fairly pricey for a standard coffee shop, but the quality of coffee and food is unrivalled in the surrounding areas and the staff are super friendly, so you're paying for the overall atmosphere and experience rather than just a single cup of coffee.
This place is also amazing even if you're not too keen on coffee beverages. Local Hero offers many different types of tea, soft drinks, and my favourite: homemade fresh smoothies. Sometimes these really do the trick when you need some more vitamins in your unhealthy student diet.
As mentioned above in regards to Local Hero in Kingston, it can get amazingly hectic (to the point of sending out mental prayers to the staff working at that time). On that note, I tend to visit coffee shops locally to sit back for a couple of hours and bash out words for an essay, or read my latest article for a lecture. This is where Hands comes in, the perfect place for you to sit and study with a steaming cup of goodness.
When it comes to essay deadline season, I swear i'm in this place more than I'm in my actual home. Never full to the brim, Hands is an extension of a music shop down by the Rose Theatre and Natwest on Victoria Square. The staff are super lovely and although there is music playing, it's usually instrumental or very light so not to distract you.
Their coffee is good (Ozone Empire Espresso), but does depend on who is making it. If you're more of a hot chocolate fanatic then you're definitely in luck; they offer three choices for you - white, milk and dark - all made from solid chocolate melted down and mixed with hot milk. Delish.
The only downside I would say to this place is the lack of food. If you're looking to eat a sandwich or something savoury whilst studying, this is not the place for you. They only have two panini options and they're not worth the fuss in my honest opinion. If you want food I would venture back over to Local Hero if I were you.
I'm going to start by placing a small disclaimer here regarding the Hummingbird Bakery. This place, in terms of the quality of coffee, is nowhere (by far) as good as many of the other places I have mentioned. They serve ‘Illy' coffee, which I can best describe as the coffee which tends to be served in restaurants and museum cafes rather than swanky coffee shops in London.
Saying that, the coffee isn't that bad, but the cups you get are huge (as you can see in the photo)! However, what I'm trying to focus on here are the bakery items which are available at each of the London branches; these treats are to die for.
The nearest one to the University is fairly far away - it's in Richmond upon Thames, but if you're ever in the area I stress that you should go in and visit. Although very pricey (last time I was in it cost £7.00 for a coffee and cupcake), this is the ultimate place to go after a stressful term where you want to go indulge in something naughty.
The Hummingbird Bakery also has shops in other various locations such as Soho, Mayfair and South Kensington, so keep your eyes peeled for their whereabouts!
I'm keeping this one short and sweet. Out of all of the places listed in this piece, I have to say Gails is the one I'm least interested in. However, whenever I'm in Wimbledon or Barnes I tend to head towards this coffee branch for a pick me up.
Gails is a large company with a fair few branches dotted about London (especially the South), and so I try to veer away and head for independents instead. However, in areas such as Wimbledon and Barnes where there is little choice for a decent cup of coffee then it does pull me in.
Gails has a large array of goodies to choose from, although their drinks list is slightly lacking. The decor within the shops are sweet and rustic without being too cluttered and hectic, and once again
I do tend to choose here to study before heavy deadlines as both shops give off great motivational vibes.
This does seem slightly hypocritical after mentioning above in regards to Gail's that I tend to steer clear of the large corporate places and head to independent shops, but Starbucks and Costa are a no brainer when it comes to their loyalty schemes.
Starbucks offers an app which you can link directly up to your loyalty card and pay via your phone, which I find great at times (e.g. when I go for a run) when I'm not carrying around my purse.
Starbucks also has within their app a loyalty system in the form of collecting stars, whereby each time you buy a beverage you collect a star, and after you reach a certain number you have earned a free drink of any size and any variation of your choosing (great for the seasonal drinks floating around at the moment)!
Costa on the other hand, my favourite out of the two large chains, relies upon a physical card, but uses a points system. Each time you buy a drink you earn a certain amount of loyalty points, which translate back into money. Once you reach the amount of a drink, you can pay via your loyalty card and essentially have a free drink. How clever!
My emphasis on these two coffee shops is during the colder months when they both launch their seasonal drinks. This tends to occur after Starbucks launches their Pumpkin Spice Latte before Halloween, followed by festive drinks in their stores as well as their competitor, Costa. Although not very conventionally coffee-like, there's something about these drinks that whisks me away to a make-believe Christmas only seen in movies and such, and they make me feel all fuzzy inside.
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