Cafe Kino

The problem with Stokes Croft in Bristol is that it has many, many cafes.  So many that, for example, within a few minutes’ walk of my friend’s house, I can think of five places that I’d happily go for coffee, cake, breakfast and/or lunch. There are plenty of other interesting-looking places which I’m sure are equally good, but I’ve never had the time/inclination/ opportunity to visit them. Choice is all well and good, but too much choice just makes my head hurt.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that there must be something pretty special about Cafe Kino to draw me in. However, trying to capture in words what that pretty special something is can be tricky. It scores on all the usual plus points: good coffee, friendly staff, free wi-fi and power sockets at about half the tables. It also has booths! Booths are a much under-rated and over-looked form of seating and more places should have them.

However, to find out what that extra special something is, you’ll have to read on…

You can read the rest of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Cafe Kino, with its big, glass window looking out on Cheltenham Road
  • It is housed in a very nice building though.
  • The business end of Cafe Kino, up close and personal.
  • A view from the counter. They have booths! Did I mention they have booths?
  • It's a booth! My booth, I tell you! I was so keen I didn't even wait for the table to be cleared!
  • It has a Mission Statement? Yes, but this one's about cake!
  • It's a latte, in a tall mug. I've never liked lattes in tall mugs. I don't know why, but in my head they are supposed to come in round mugs...
Cafe Kino, with its big, glass window looking out on Cheltenham Road1 It is housed in a very nice building though.2 The business end of Cafe Kino, up close and personal.3 A view from the counter. They have booths! Did I mention they have booths?4 It's a booth! My booth, I tell you! I was so keen I didn't even wait for the table to be cleared!5 It has a Mission Statement? Yes, but this one's about cake!6 It's a latte, in a tall mug. I've never liked lattes in tall mugs. I don't know why, but in my head they are supposed to come in round mugs...7
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So, what makes Cafe Kino so special? Well, I’ve said before that I’ll choose a place simply by walking by and thinking “that looks interesting”. In the case of Cafe Kino, that’s not the case. Not that there is anything wrong with Cafe Kino from the outside (in fact, it’s housed in a very nice building), but there’s nothing that draws me in.

A closer inspection gives away some of the plus points though. Through the floor-to-ceiling window that runs the length of Cafe Kino, you can usually see a few folk typing away at their laptops, which is always a good sign. In fact, Cafe Kino is very laptop friendly, with free, secure wifi (the code is on display by the till) and power sockets around the sides of the main room. This can lead to a bit of power-socket competition since about 50% of the seating is at free standing tables in the centre, where there isn’t any power. This I can forgive, given the logistics of running power sockets to them, but it does mean that the tables around the edges are much more popular; so much so that every time I’ve been there, I’ve had to sit in the middle and wait until one of the tables at the side becomes free. Then I can pounce!

An even closer look through the window reveals the booths. Given a choice, I will always go for a booth. There is something about them that appeals. Partly it’s the sense of privacy that they give. I also think it’s an association with American Diners; I love American Diners and in my mind, they always have booths (even if in reality some of my favourites, such as Charley’s Sandwich Shoppe in Boston, don’t). Anyway, booths are good.

However, even booths and laptop friendliness aren’t that special something. For that, we have to look to the Cafe Kino Mission Statement. Normally I would turn my nose up at anywhere with a Mission Statement, but bear with me. Point 1 of the Mission Statement reads, in its entirety:

“Creating inspiring, safe spaces to cultivate community, cooperation and CAKE” (my capitals for emphasis).

Creating inspiring spaces to cultivate cake? That gets my vote any day. And, consider this. That was written in January 2007 and I only noticed it for the first time on my most recent visit. This is several years after I started popping into Cafe Kino. So obviously it’s not just words. Clearly, they have been cultivating that sort of space all this time, the sort of space that has that special something that makes me come back despite the calls of all the other cafés in Stokes Croft.

Creating inspiring spaces to cultivate cake? Genius!

108 STOKES CROFT • BRISTOL • BS1 3RU
www.cafe-kino.com +44 (0)117 9249200
Monday 08:30 – 21:30 Roaster Wogan (espresso only)
Tuesday 08:30 – 21:30 Seating Tables, Booths, Bar at Window
Wednesday 08:30 – 21:30 Food Breakfast, Lunch (Vegan)
Thursday 08:30 – 21:30 Service Counter Order, Table Delivery
Friday 08:30 – 21:30 Cards Mastercard, Visa (£0.40 charge under £10)
Saturday 08:30 – 21:30 Wifi With Code
Sunday 08:30 – 21:30 Power Limited
Chain No Visits 7th September 2012

If you liked this Coffee Spot, check out the rest of Bristol’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Bristol.


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