Eden Café

"Welcome Home" says the sign on the wall of Eden Cafe in Witney, next to a stylised map of New Zealand.Witney, it turns out, has an excellent and well-developed coffee scene for what is a relatively small town in western Oxfordshire. This can partly be explained by the presence of Ue Coffee, which has its long-established roastery, complete with its own cafe,  just west of the town on the Windrush Industrial Park, and has also opened two coffee shops in the town itself.

However, there’s more to Witney than Ue Coffee, as witnessed by a small slice of New Zealand which you can find tucked away off the High Street on the pedestrianised Wesley Walk. This piece of Kiwi-land goes by the name Eden Café and makes no bones about its antipodean heritage. Serving, appropriately enough, coffee from fellow Kiwi imports, Allpress, with the ubiquitous Redchurch blend gracing the espresso machine, you can be sure of a solid cup of coffee, plus a range of vegetarian cakes and food. There’s a heavy emphasis on vegan offerings, which isn’t something you see that often.

All this is squeezed into what I shall call an “interesting” space, essentially a triangle, with windows running along the front. There’s also plenty of seating outside on the quiet Wesley Walk, partially under the shelter of the eaves of the café.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On  Witney High Street, opposite Welch Way, there's an opening between the buildings.
  • It's the start of Wesley Walk. The A-board suggests that a visit will be worth our while.
  • Wesley Walk takes a dog-leg to the left, where you'll find Eden Cafe, a little further on.
  • Another A-board announces that we have reached our destination.
  • There's plenty of seating in front of Eden Cafe. This table is to the left of the door.
  • There's another to the right of the door, with more tables running off into the distance.
  • Let's go in, shall we?
  • There's a small table immediately inside the door on the right...
  • ... while off to the left, the counter dominates.
  • There's more seating off to the right, against the sloping back wall.
  • Eden is triangular in shape, with this table squeezed in at the apex to the right.
  • There is a cramped window-bar at the front, but it's been given over to the plants!
  • Finally, there's another bar, right at the back on the right-hand side.
  • The view from the back of Eden Cafe.
  • There are lots of lovely light-fittings. These hang over the seats at the back...
  • ... while these hang over the counter.
  • The sign on the back wall lets you know that you are in a small slice of New Zealand.
  • I like the old coffee sacks on the counter. Handy if you want to know who roaster is!
  • There's also a set of retail shelves at the back on the right.
  • The counter, in all it's glory, is on the left as you enter.
  • There's cake at the front to tempt you, plus a handy sign, showing you where to go.
  • Naturally, this takes you past more cake on your way to the till.
  • The menu is conveniently placed on the wall behind the counter.
  • I decided to have the veggie sausage sandwich for lunch...
  • ... paired with a flat white, naturally, made with the Allpress Redchurch blend.
  • Nice latte art...
  • ... which the milk held (pretty much) all the way to the bottom of the cup. Impressive!
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I honestly wasn’t expecting to find a small piece of New Zealand in the heart of Oxfordshire, but there it is, tucked away off the High Street, and very lovely it is too. When I expressed my surprise on social media, the owner explained that it was self-preservation. Finding a dearth of decent coffee outside London after moving from Auckland ten years ago, the logical step was to open a coffee shop. As you do. Damn these Kiwis, coming over here and making us drink good coffee…

Eden Café, which opened in 2014, is on Wesley Way, a pedestrianised passage, lined with single-storey shops on either side, which starts roughly halfway along Witney’s long and rather lovely High Street. Eden Café’s on the left, an A-board announcing that you’ve reached your destination, with another A-board at the start of Wesley Way, just in case you were wondering if you’d come to the right place.

The door is on the left, windows running off to the right. A pair of two-person tables flank the doors, which is set in a lovely stone arch, while long benches run along the windows, with long, narrow tables in front of them, all designed not to project too far into the passageway. Now that’s considerate. Although Eden Café only has two windows to the right, the outside seating carries on, also occupying the two windows of the dry-cleaners next door.

Inside, Eden Café occupies an interestingly shaped space, effectively a triangle, with the apex off to the right, the back wall coming ever closer to the windows the further along you go. Meanwhile the counter is against the left-hand wall, running front-to-back. Naturally the till is at the back, so you have to shuffle past all the cakes on your way to order. Cunning folk, these Kiwis.

There’s a three-person square table off to the right, immediately next to the door, but the bulk of the seating is against the back wall, where a padded bench runs its full length. This has five two-person tables in front of it, although by the time you get to the one at the end, you’re really having to squeeze yourself in. Finally, at the back, there’s a three-person bar on the right, opposite the end of the counter. All-in-all, a very cosy, welcoming spot.

When it comes to food, Eden Café is strictly vegetarian/vegan. As much as I like my eggs, it’s good to see a breakfast/brunch menu that’s not dominated by them. Instead there’s an emphasis on toasties and bagels, plus salads at lunchtime, although despite the dominance of bread, much of it is gluten free. I made a bee-line for the veggie sausage toastie, which, while not quite reaching the heights of Mrs Atha’s awesome veggie sausage sandwich (which, I confess, is a very high bar to judge anything by), was nevertheless very fine indeed, definitely filling the lunch-shaped hole in my day.

Eden Café offers a standard espresso-based menu using the Allpress Redchurch blend. Naturally, I was compelled to order a flat white and, while the Redchurch blend held no great surprises, it was a very fine flat white, served in a tulip cup, not something you see that often. The milk was excellent and beautifully-steamed, holding the latte-art to the bottom of the cup.

www.edencafe.kiwi +44 (0) 1993 849494
Monday 08:30 – 16:30 Roaster Allpress (espresso only)
Tuesday 08:30 – 16:30 Seating Tables, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 08:30 – 16:30 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 08:30 – 16:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:30 – 16:30 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:30 – 16:30 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:30 – 15:30 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 2nd October 2017

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