A colleague at work had recommended that I visit The Green Coffee Machine, an independent coffee place quite close to Cheltenham Railway Station. I had seen it a fair few times as I travelled to and from work by train, but until recently had never had the chance or the time to pop in.
I much prefer independent coffee shops to the high street chains, I find that they have more personality, the staff care about the coffee and the food is usually better and more tasty.
Having arrived much earlier into Cheltenham than I normally do, I took the opportunity to give The Green Coffee Machine a try. I was pleased to find that it opened early, it was 7:45 which isn’t that early, but I know other places that don’t open until 9:00am or even later. I was on the Gloucester Road in Bristol the other morning and I wanted a coffee, the local independents were closed, so I had to go to Costa for a coffee. The other morning in Gloucester I was going to grab a quick espresso at the Portivo Lounge in the Quays, but it didn’t open until 9am. So to be honest I was expecting The Green Coffee Machine to be closed, so was pleased to find it was open.
I received a friendly greeting and I ordered a flat white and some toast. I had considered ordering an Americano, which is usually my way of comparing coffee from different places, but I really felt like drinking a flat white. What was really nice was after ordering I didn’t need to wait around, I was told I could sit down and my coffee and toast would be brought to my table.
Sitting down I was able to take in the asthetics and design of the environment. It’s quite eclectic in terms of furnishing and decoration. It in my mind mashes together two different styles that doesn’t quite work. There is a design asthetic that takes slate with (usually lime green) plastic. If you have ever been to the Tea Monkey in Bath you will know what I am talking about and it works quite well, modern, clean and ever so slightly futuristic. The other design style is what you find in somewhere like Coffee#1, wooden floors, reclaimed wooden furniture, comfortable relaxing sofas (preferably weathered leather). What The Green Coffee Machine has done has mashed those two styles together, so you have the modern fresh slate floor complete with lime green plastic chairs, alongside really nice leather Chesterfield sofas and weirdly cable drums as tables.
As a result, for me, it doesn’t work. I think a slate and lime green look would have worked really well, likewise a retro wooden design would have worked equally well.
They are not alone in mashing styles together, Portivo Lounge in the Gloucester Quays has done something similar, wooden inside, and green (and also orange) plastic chairs outside. That doesn’t work either!
So what about the real stuff, the main reason for going, the coffee?
Well I really enjoyed the Flat White, it was great coffee and the milk was exactly the right consistency, not too foamy and not too milky. There was no feather, but let’s be honest that’s just trying to be flash. I really enjoyed the coffee and it tasted of coffee.
The toast, though nice and hot, with generous portions of butter and jam (and no little packs of butter either, which I do prefer) I was slightly disappointed that they were using a standard loaf of Hovis. They had just bought it from the Tesco next door! Okay, so toast is toast, but some proper artisan bread would have been so much more preferable than sliced bread from the supermarket. It looked like they were using rustic French bread on the menu, so not totally out of the question. In a traditional British cafe (as in caff) you expect them to use sliced bread, but in a place like The Green Coffee Machine I had expectations, especially as it was Cheltenham, that they would use proper bread.
Overall I did quite like the atmosphere, the service was excellent, the coffee was great, if you don’t mind a slighty confused design and decor and avoid the toast, then it’s a really nice place to spend time drinking coffee.