Detail taken from the A board outside Novi on Cambridge's Regent Street. Just to the east of Cambridge’s historic centre, on the busy Regent’s Road, you’ll find Novi, coffee shop and brunch spot by day, bar (and cocktail bar) by night. In keeping with the likes of Notes in London or Liverpool’s Filter + Fox, Novi combines speciality coffee and beer/wine/cocktails, but with the sort of food output you’d get from somewhere like Villiers Coffee Co.

A surprisingly large place, in a lovely, 1930s building, Novi occupies the ground floor, although there are plans to open the upstairs areas on a more permanent basis. There’s generous seating opposite the counter at the front, more seating towards the rear by the kitchen, and a small, enclosed courtyard out the back. With windows front and back, as well as down one side, it’s a bright, airy, uncluttered space.

The coffee is from Bury St Edmunds’ Frank and Earnest, with a single-origin on both espresso and pour-over through the V60. Coffee is served well into the evening, while there is beer, wine and cocktails until 3am! There’s food, with a full brunch menu served until four o’clock, plus a bar menu in the evening. And, of course, cake.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Novi, on Cambridge's Regent Street. Shame about the parked car...
  • ... since it's a very beautiful building.
  • An unobstructed view from the front.
  • Brunch until 4pm? How civilised!
  • On warm days, the windows are pulled back, giving an excellent view of the interior...
  • On the outside looking in from a different angle. Novi has two doors, this one on the left...
  • ... and this one on the right, where you end up by the counter.
  • Novi is surprisingly big and goes back a long way. This is the view from by the window.
  • There is seating on the left, opposite the counter...
  • ...while there is more seating at the back.
  • For example, there's this eight-person communal table on the left...
  • ... while right at the back, there's this cosy corner unit.
  • Even better, beyond a floor-to-ceiling glass partition, there's an outside seating area.
  • There are benches around three sides of this enclosed courtyard.
  • Back inside and here's another view of the cosy corner at the back.
  • Did I mention you could sit at the counter if you wanted to?
  • Alternatively, beyond the tables on the left there's another bar along the wall.
  • There's not much of a view from the windows though...
  • Finally, right at the front, there's another communal table...
  • ... or you can sit at the low window-bar and look out onto the busy Regent Street.
  • The view from the window.
  • Despite all the windows, there are plenty of lights, such as this one hanging over the bar.
  • The flowers on the tables are a nice touch.
  • So, to business. The front end of the counter is dedicated to the coffee side of the business...
  • ... while the far end the counter turns into a bar...
  • ... and a rather well-stocked one at that!
  • There's also an excellent range of food throughout the day...
  • ... all cooked in the large kitchen at the back.
  • On my first visit, I had the scrambled eggs with griddled homemade cornbread...
  • ... while on my return I sampled the chia and coconut flour pancakes
  • The coffee menu is also impressive...
  • ... as is the array of tempting cakes on offer.
  • More coffee and drinks options.
  • I like the fact that the brew bar faces the door...
  • ... while the espresso machine is on the back of the counter for all to see.
  • On my first visit I had a flat white to start my day...
  • ... while on my return, I was determined to sample the brew bar.
  • All the coffee is from local roasters, Frank and Earnest. Espresso, left, pour-over right.
  • This was my coffee, a lovely Burundi through the V60.
Photo Carousel by v4.6

Novi occupies a three storey building on Cambridge’s busy Regent Street. The ground floor is dedicated to what can best be described as a coffee lounge by day and a bar/cocktail bar by night. The first floor is home to a private function room, while there’s a cocktail bar (Friday and Saturday evenings from five o’clock) upstairs.

The coffee lounge has a simple rectangular layout, with airlock-style doors on either side of a broad window which overlooks the busy street. There’s a single full-width concertina window with a low window-bar, complete with low stools/benches. In the summer, the window can be fully opened, giving Novi more of an outdoor feel.

The counter is a broad, spacious affair on the right-hand side, while there is seating on left and at the back, giving you plenty of options. Novi has also resisted the temptation to cram too much in, so there’s a wonderful feeling of space. As you enter on the right, the counter is directly ahead of you, while on the left, there’s an eight-person table projecting from the wall, both of which direct you to the centre of the room. If you like, you can sit at the far end of the counter on one of six high, padded bar-chairs. Alternatively, there’s a high bar against the left-hand wall, with two pairs of high, padded bar-chairs, one pair for each of the two windows, although the view, of the wall of the adjacent building, leaves a little to be desired! There are also three round, four-person tables on the left-hand side.

Beyond the counter, Novi opens out a bit. There’s another eight-person communal table on the left, with two four-person tables in the centre. Against the right-hand wall, a lovely padded sofa runs along the wall, occupied by two further four-person tables. The kitchen is also back here on the left, visible through an open serving hatch. On the right, the back half of the wall is all glass, a door leading out to a small, high-walled seating area, enclosed on all four sides, which doubles as a smoking area.

The counter has the coffee operation at the window-end, with a row of six V60s facing the window, while the espresso machine is behind the counter, business end facing the customers. The cakes are also on display down here, while there are beer taps either end, with a fully stocked bar at the far end, opposite the bar-chairs.

On my first visit in June, I had a flat white, made with Frank and Earnest’s Honduras single-origin which acts as the house-espresso. Quite a dark-tasting coffee, its flavour cuts through the milk and provided a good start to my day. I paired this with the scrambled eggs and griddled homemade cornbread, which was excellent. The creamy, zingy scrambled eggs went really well with the bread, which was superb.

I popped back to Novi in September for a V60 of the Burundi single-origin. A fruity, subtle coffee, it was served at the correct drinking temperature. This time I tried the chia and coconut flour pancakes, with mixed fruits and maple cream. Consisting of three small pancakes, laden with fruit and with the cream on the side, they were delightful, with a slightly savoury feel to them which I enjoyed.

12 REGENT STREET • CAMBRIDGE • CB2 1DB +44 (0) 1223 518537
Monday 09:00 – 03:00 Roaster Frank & Earnest (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 09:00 – 03:00 Seating Tables, Window Bar, Counter, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 09:00 – 03:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Small Plates, Cake
Thursday 09:00 – 03:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 09:00 – 03:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 03:00 Wifi Free (with sign-in)
Sunday 09:00 – 23:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 4th June, 5th September 2016

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