Coffee Architects has become a hub of Leamington Spa, renowned for its food, drinks and atmosphere. So much so, you will see queues streaming along the pavement even before the doors open at 8am. From families to students, everyone loves Coffee Architects and revels in the buzz surrounding the infamous brunch spot.
Founder, ‘Mum Cook’ and self- confessed ‘feeder’, Sam relishes in the fact that customers eat like they would at her kitchen table. She emphasised she is not a chef or has any official training, but is fuelled by her Mediterranean background, love of good food and being able to cook on a budget in large batches.
Sam knew that is it was something she always wanted to do. Coffee Architect’s ideology is being family run with a large focus on home-style food that you can share or take home.
Sam’s interest in vegan food was first ignited by her son and close friend, whose vegan diets meant they were continually limited when eating out. It seemed ‘vegan’ only translated as ‘salads’. This frustrated Sam who now strives to change the constant ‘can’ts’ and restrictions faced by vegan diners to ‘cans’ and new dietary freedom. Not to mention, on top of the bland food offered they were charged extra for any alternatives available. This is something Sam strongly disagrees with, hence why there is no cross charging at Coffee Architect much to my delight.
Not vegan herself at the time, Sam’s vegan cooking at home enabled her to experiment and develop her culinary skills. Now clearly evident in Coffee Architect’s vegan food.
I don’t know how she does it: a women on a mission. During the midst of their busiest time, Sam and the team were graced by a surprise inspection. However, you couldn’t even tell, food continued to flow and a calmness was maintained within the chaotic moment.
“Health from the inside out”
For health reasons Sam has been advised to try a vegan diet. It is true, food is the best medicine. Sam explained that she does not see taking the step towards becoming fully vegan as something daunting given she has always had an interest and involvement with vegan food. If anything, it is making her even more adventurous in her wonderful culinary creations.
In addition to the health aspects of veganism, Sam noted that environmental factors also influenced her decision. We are currently eating unsustainably and ultimately destroying the planet. She suggested that soon we will be turning to insects for a protein source and forced to eat more thoughtfully.
Interestingly, Sam said she has witnessed a huge rise in the number of people (especially students) asking for the vegan options. A large majority of them are not ‘officially’ vegan but simply prefer the vegan option – often incorrectly perceived to correlate to the ‘healthier’ choice. Many also see Coffee Architects as a safe space to try vegan food thanks to it being so accessible. There is no denying that the vegan diet is becoming somewhat of a fashionable trend and ever more prevalent.
“More than just a Coffee Shop”
This could not be more true, and hence why it is so popular. Sam has a long history with Coffee. With the name ‘Coffee Architects’ originating from a previous title at work. The coffee has retained its importance and high quality driven by passion, yet Sam now places as much importance on the atmosphere and holistic side of Coffee Architects. Eating here is an experience. Food and drink is so much more than simply a necessity; it is a social occasion. Arguably, one of the most important. This, I loved. Both inside the cafe and outside in the garden there is an exciting buzz. Perhaps partly down to the gorgeous aesthetics and much anticipated food. However, the sense of family, sharing and community simultaneously puts you at ease once stepping into this great mind space. Everyone is allowed to relax and escape the stresses of daily life. It is a place where people come together and celebrate. Celebrating anything they like – good food, good coffee and good company. This is why the idea of sharing food is crucial here; community is at the heart of Coffee Architects.
Coffee Architects is a progressive Coffee Shop: coffee, food, environment and community.
The community aspect is something I wasn’t aware of before speaking to Sam. But from the offset, I could feel her passion. I had not realised the amount of work they do with charities, one of their sponsored charities currently being Myton Hospice. Sam is also working with other organisations to open the space up for disabled families when closed to the public on Mondays. This will create a safe space for the families to enjoy a much needed day out and escape from the realms of daily stress. A heavy involvement with local programmes such as Helping Hands’ Coats for the Homeless Winter Scheme and running suspended meals and coffee are great, simple ideas which make a huge impact on the local community.
Additionally, as much as possible, the food is locally sourced, further adding to the strong sense of community governing Coffee Architects.
“Coffee, teas and everything in-between”
Coffee Architects boasts being able to cater for everyone. Providing gluten-free, vegetarian, healthy and even vegan alternatives for nearly all their drinks and food. This was the aspect I was fascinated by, how can they consistently deliver such delicious, fresh alternatives on demand for an entire (and extensive!) menu?
Firstly, I discovered their array of non-dairy milks: soya, oat, almond and coconut. This made any hot drink possible. I was treated to an Iced Latte made with oat milk, which added an extra creaminess to the refreshing coffee, alongside their bullet-proof Turmeric Latte.
I was let in on their ‘secret’ Turmeric Latte recipe:
- Coconut Milk
- Coconut oil
- Agave Nectar
- Topped with crushed black pepper and cinnamon
The flavour is as mesmerising as the colour. Packed with health benefits from the spices and coconut oil, you feel like you are drinking a rejuvenating elixir. Warm, comforting and invigorating. The perfect coffee alternative.
This was later followed by a soya milk Matcha Latte and fragrant Moroccan Mint Tea- beautifully brought in its own cafetiere to brew.
The stunning selection of cakes and treats can tempt anyone, with gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar free and vegan cakes available daily. Everyone really can have their cake and eat it.
The vegan walnut and banana bread with Tofu frosting, was hands down the best vegan cake I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Although at first I was slightly wary of ‘tofu frosting with coconut cream’, I could not have been more surprised. An ingenious creation. Sam’s culinary adventurousness with different flavours and vegan options means there is always something new and exciting to try, and this cake is the perfect example.
My first course was a beautifully presented coconut yogurt pot with a homemade mixed berry compote and gluten-free granola. Not a fan of soya yogurt, it can be hard to find a dairy-free yogurt and granola option when out, but this was the perfect start to the morning: light, fresh and not a soya bean in sight!
I could not go to Coffee Architect without tasting their iconic ‘Billy Can House Beans’, the vegan edition. Wow, I made the right decision.
I was presented with a huge dish of the house beans topped with portobello mushrooms and watercress partnered with a ‘side’ *more like full meal in itself* of avocado toast. Can we please take a moment to appreciate the avocado to toast ratio. Pure brunch heaven.
The daily soups and salad bowls all have a vegan base. The only ‘condition’ when ordering a ‘Buddha Bowl’ is that after eating you are expected to have a little buddha belly. I can confirm, this was not a choice but a requirement of my lunch selection.
The buddha bowl was comprised of chickpeas, spinach, courgette, ginger, shallots, onion, red and green lentils, mango, squash, roasted cauliflower, tomatoes, asparagus and mild Indian spices. This was the ‘base’ to which my vegan option of falafel and hummus was piled on top of.
The vibrant dressing of raspberry, apple cider vinegar (health benefits galore right here) and tahini, added a powerful shot of colour and flavour to the dish.
Success after Success
Coffee Architects recently won the ‘Best Cafe Warwickshire’ in the Muddy Stiletto Awards. Sam seemed a little taken aback by the sheer volume of support, but it is easy to see why people got so behind them: they have made such an impression on Leamington Spa.
They currently turn over 70-80 covers daily, and with the ever growing demand, Sam views the next logical step being expansion. Still keeping the original site, it is hoped to get an additional site where they will be able to turn over 3 times the covers. This will make Coffee Architects even more cohesive. Sam also mentioned looking to increase her vegan options and raw foods at the new site, as well as expanding their specialist events and catering side. So exciting.
A huge thank you to Sam and the team for treating me so well… I literally rolled home. If you are ever near Leamington Spa, you MUST visit Coffee Architects. They really have opened up a whole new way of eating. This said, Coffee Architect is so much more than just its food and drink; it holds an unequalled magical quality. I was a regular before, but now it is going to reach an entire new level. I am so excited to see what is next in store for Sam, who is so inspiring and has ignited a vegan spark within Leamington with her gorgeous creative food.
Visit their website here!