Feeling guilty about the way that working on the first draft of my book about nuclear power in the UK is squeezing out blogging at present, here’s a quick one on a new cafe that recently opened and which brings something new to the crowded and mostly well provided Cambridge cafe society. I’m not talking about the second Hot Numbers, which opened just before Christmas just up the street from the Judge main building. That was certainly a welcome addition and I’m sure that the Judge plus Engineering faculty are their most regular customers.
The cafe I mean is just outside the city centre, which means it’s on outer edge of Parker’s Piece, the trapezium of grass where the rules of Association Football (“soccer”) were first codified (see here for more about this most famous Cambridge landmark). It’s at the base of an architecturally undistinguised new apartment block built over the fire station (an excellent use of space, though I wonder whether the owners of the fancy penthouse expected to be woked up so often by sirens).
Called Espresso Library, it’s a very open, bright interior with the right sort of people (not too many screaming kids, unlike the original Hot Numbers on Gwydir Street and I’m afraid to say, not too many students, though a few well behaved University cyclists came in while I was there). The coffee is good, pretty much in line with Nero, which is my reference point, rather than the slightly too bitter for me Hot Numbers home roasted brew. It’s on the unpromising East Road but is perfectly positioned, opposite the one little park on that street, rather than the campus of Anglia Ruskin University.
The interior is decorated at one end with an exhibition of photos of Cambridge from Martin Bond. It has the sort of warehouse, open ducting, high ceiling look that is long familiar in New York and London but rather new to sleepy Cambridge. Note the unused chess board.
In effect Espresso Library is an extension to Mill Road but brings a bit of urban glamour and sophistication to what passes for Cambridge’s cool urban quarter. It’s close enough to town (about 3 minutes bike ride) that it risks being inundated with undergrads, but they are usually so reluctant to go outside the very centre of the city that we are probably safe.
It’s almost literally round the corner from my house so there is now another distraction from polishing off the last 10,000 words of the book…