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Reviews by KirstyB:
This is our "local". Circa is the best kept secret of St Albans! The location is brilliant, (just off Bealey Ave, over the road from the 24 hour Medical Centre), within biking distance for my four year old, we walk down here most days to get Mummy her "fix".
Sue and the girls are real sweethearts, you're always assured of a friendly welcome, they know pretty much every one of their regulars (and there are quite a few) by name, and make a damn fine coffee in next to no time. The beans used are Underground Avant Garde. There's a quirky selection of girly wares and retro furniture for sale, the food range available is small but diverse, anything from fudge to friands (had a white chocolate and strawberry one today and it was che-oice), beautifully presented. Good things come in small packages and Circa is living proof of this!
"Do you remember the big cherry tree outside the Staveley Store?" said Dad "It's in full bloom at the moment, and together with the mountain backdrop it'd be a really scenic place to have a coffee on a day like this" It'd be rude not to, we thought. So on the way home on a sunny Sunday afternoon, we did just that.
The Staveley Village Store has changed somewhat since my last visit. There is a big silver coffee machine nestled in the far corner and it's not as dark inside as it used to be. Groceries line the left wall, and on the right there are locally made Blue Earth soaps and rustic looking muffins (still in the tins they were baked in) for sale.
After a friendly welcome from the proprietress, punctuated by the roar of trail bikes from some local lads who'd stopped in for soft drinks and a chat with the pretty teenage counterhand, we ordered a flat white and a latte. These were made promptly and with skill. No coffee flavoured soup here.
As we sat there, the sun warm on our backs, a breeze gently ruffled the generous pink blooms of the cherry tree, and behind us loomed a snow capped Mt Somers. Dad was right. It was a perfect place to stop for a coffee.
The cafe sponsors a cycling team that enters the Tour of Southland, and has a big van parked up a side street with zebras all over it. It's quite noticeable as you drive up Tay Street, look out for the corrogated iron elephant on the roof. Inside a similar zoo theme prevails. The welcome is a typically understated yet friendly Southland one and the coffee did the trick but I wouldn't rave over it. If you are really lucky you get to eyeball local celeb Marcus Lush across the counter of a morning....!
Fantastic place to repair to in the afternoon, it wasn't frantically busy the day we went thank goodness, it had just the right amount of people in it to create a pleasant, lively atmosphere. Great coffee, lovely cakes and muffins, wonderful choccies to sample and to purchase, (speights choccies anyone?) plus interesting and varied homewares. The type of cafe you could take your Great Aunty to (and I did!) without worrying if the music was too loud for her. Aunty Linda isn't a coffee drinker, but was quite content to have a piece of cake with a refreshing pot of tea and to people watch! Stylish rest rooms too!
This is (in my humble opinion!) the most stylish coffee establishment in Marlborough, and the coffee isn't too shabby either! CPR coffee is roasted on the premises, and it's a gorgeously rich, dark and slightly silty brew, just how I like it. The counter staff are friendly and efficient and the food choices were varied and well presented. I nearly had an accident driving over the hills to Seddon, so busy was I trying to lick out every last skerrick of latte from my takeaway cup, it was that good! On the subject of takeaways, they have those innovative little plastic bag type cup holders, one of those brilliant ideas you wish you'd thought of first.
If you can't quite get to the Caribbean to soak up the relaxed atmosphere, then this is the next best thing. Barbadoes is the newest local cafe in our 'hood (at the time of writing). Look for the blue and gold crocheted covers on the retro chairs at the table and the long and low-slung couch, (perfect for catching some early morning rays) outside. I can honestly say that Havana is definately "Coffee U Feel!!" A triple shot flat white works for me (and within me!!). Absolutely no complaints there. Inside the bountiful cabinet are all sorts of vegetarian and vegan friendly delicacies. The carrot cake is absolutely THE BEST carrot cake I have had the pleasure of eating for ages, seriously ORGASMIC, I loved it so much I just HAD to buy another piece this afternoon, because I enjoyed the one I had this morning so much! The takeaway containers are made from sugar cane waste product and will break down in your compost bin, so this establishment walks lightly on the earth too. Nice work!
Pictures from KirstyB: