Cafe Coho, Queens Road

The back room at Cafe Coho with the morning sun streaming in through the window.Café Coho is a chain in the strictest sense of the word (there are two of them). Queens Road is the second of the two, very handily placed just a stone’s throw from Brighton Station and around the corner/down the street from the likes of Coffee@33 and Taylor Street Baristas. Despite this stiff competition, it more than holds its own, being a lovely spot, the décor full of brick and wood. As a bonus, on the day I was there, it was flooded with sunshine.

The coffee is from Union Hand-roasted, with a decaf option, but unlike many places in Brighton, there’s no guest roasters or pour-over. There is, however, a comprehensive breakfast/brunch/lunch menu, with a lavish array of cake and pastries. I ‘d only come in for an early-morning coffee before starting a day of café-hopping, but I made the mistake of sitting in the sun-filled room at the back, which is by the stairs down to the kitchen… After a constant stream of breakfasts coming up the stairs (plus harassment on twitter), I finally cracked and ordered poached eggs on toast (I’d have had the Eggs Florentine, but I’d already had one breakfast that day before setting off!).

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The narrow store front of Cafe Coho on Brighton's Queens Road.
  • The view from just inside the door, looking down the length of Cafe Coho...
  • ... and here looking slightly off to the left, where the bulk of the seating is.
  • Talking of which...
  • The window-bar, to the left of the door, is good for people-watching...
  • ... while this water station is directly in front of you as you come in.
  • The counter is a little further back and runs along the left-hand wall...
  • ... opposite which is a row of two-person tables attached the right-hand wall.
  • The view from the back.
  • In all there are six tables opposite the counter...
  • ... the last two of which are seen here, looking the other way.
  • If you head through the doorway beyond, you find yourself on this little landing...
  • ... where there's a waiting area to your right...
  • ... and stairs leading intriguingly down. Sadly there's no seating down there; I did check.
  • Instead, turn left and you're into the wonderful back room.
  • I loved this space, perfect first thing on a sunny morning.
  • One of the tables in the back room.
  • For me, the best part was the way the light poured through the back window.
  • See what I mean?
  • Talking of which: the back of Cafe Coho, seen from Frederick Place, which runs behind it.
  • Back inside, despite all the windows, light-fitting fans will not be disappointed.
  • I particularly liked these and their reflections in the front window.
  • Cafe Coho has two of these, which I think might be parts of old chimneys, high up the walls.
  • There was also plenty of artwork.
  • The menus are chalked up on boards behind the counter (food menus are on the clipboards).
  • There are iced drinks and tea as well...
  • The coffee, by the way, is from Union...
  • ... while the tea is from Tea Pigs.
  • There's also a generous provision of cake.
  • However, time to fire up the espresso machine.
  • My lovely flat white, a great way to start the day.
  • I leave you with my (normal-sized) poached eggs on (enormous slices of) toast.
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Literally a few steps from Brighton Station, you’ll find Café Coho on the left of the Queens Road. Exceedingly long and comparatively thin, Café Coho nonetheless has a spacious feel to it, helped by the pleasingly high ceilings. The bulk of the seating is in the front of the store, by the window and the door. Beyond this comes the counter, taking up much of the left-hand side, while on the right, opposite the counter, is a row of high, two-person tables up against the wall. Beyond that again, there’s a small waiting area with a couple of cinema seats, stairs down to the toilets and kitchen and, best of all, tucked away on the left, another little room with more seating which catches the morning sun.

Heading back to the Queens Road, not much of this is apparent from the street. There are a pair of tables outside on the pavement, although for me the constant stream of traffic and pedestrians heading to and from the station make this an unattractive option. However, press your face up against the generous window, which runs from floor to (very high) ceiling and, other than scaring the people seated at the window-bar, you’ll start to get an idea of what joys await inside.

The door, a solid, partially-glazed wood panel affair which occupies the right-hand third of the storefront, leads you into a wonderful interior. There are wooden floorboards beneath your feet and, to your left, a soaring bare-brick wall, while the wall to your right is painted pale grey. A clear path leads you past the tables to your left (a couple of two-person tables against the left-hand wall, with a row of four two-person tables down the middle) to the counter, where you are first confronted by the considerable ranks of cake before reaching the till, then, eventually the espresso machine.

Once you’ve ordered, you can return to the front, sit at one of the tables opposite the counter or, if you prefer, carry on to a little landing at the back. Here, through an open doorway in the left-hand wall, there’s a small back room which, facing east, catches the morning sun. This is a lovely spot in its own right, with five two-person tables and one four-person table, all arrayed around the edges. There’s a window at the back and a second (unused) doorway overlooking the stairs, which provides even more light. The wooden floorboards continue here, but the brick walls give way to plain, painted walls hung with artwork (the walls in the front part are also hung with art). Several people were back here during my visit, holding business meetings away from the hustle and bustle of the counter or the stream of people coming in and out of the door.

I had a flat white, and, having had Union on many previous occasions, it contained no great surprises. My coffee was very good though; smooth, with well-steamed milk and it was a lovely way to start the day. The poached eggs which I eventually ordered were equally lovely, coming on two huge slices of excellent sour-dough toast. Indeed, such was the size of the toast in comparison to the eggs that one commentator on twitter wondered what tiny bird had produced such small eggs!

83 QUEENS ROAD • BRIGHTON • BN1 3XE +44 (0) 1273 719126
Monday 07:00 – 18:30 Roaster Union (espresso only)
Tuesday 07:00 – 18:30 Seating Tables, Window Bar, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 18:30 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 18:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 18:30 Cards Mastercard, Visa (£5 minimum)
Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 18:00 Power Yes
Chain Local Visits 30th March 2015

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