Soliciting Flavours

Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine

A big hand for the Big Moose Coffee Co., Cardiff city centre.

Talk is cheap (this is a bit rich coming from a lawyer mind), with many people professing to care/being outraged about stuff but only really talk/tweet about it (I am as guilty of this as anyone, although I try and avoid it on Twitter sticking to just food and drink and the occasional moan about the same).

It is, therefore, always nice (if rather chastening) to see people who put their money where their mouth is and actually take positive individual action to address issues that concern them. People like the fantastic staff and owners of Pronto Pizza, with their pay a pound for a pizza for the homeless and Arbennig (sadly closing, although the owners will still have the the Lamb & Flag in Wick) making and delivering, last Christmas, meal for the homeless.

Such people also include those behind the Big Moose Coffee Co., a recently opened cafe in Cardiff City Centre.

The premise behind the Big Moose Coffee Co. is to operate it not only as a cafe, but also as a vehicle to assist the homeless in Cardiff. They intend to do this throught any profits being used to help homeless and other disadvantaged people get back on their feet and also by training up, mentoring and employing a homeless person (to be chosen in conjunction with local homeless charity Llamau) in the cafe. Such a process is intended to allow that person (life back on an even keel) to then move on to another job and thus allow the process to start again with another homeless person.

Very much a hand up rather than a hand out and a process of helping those in most need, get permanently back on their feet, that should very much be applauded.

Notwithstanding the admirable objective underpinning the Big Moose Coffee Co., it is still first and foremost a cafe and it will only make enough money to achieve its aim of helping those in need if it is good enough to get people through the doors. So what did I make of the place on the food and drink front?

The place

Outside it is quite unassuming. I am not sure if this is deliberate as currently it doesn’t exactly draw you in.

With the location down a side street off Queen Street (find the ghastly Starbucks – they all are not just this one – opposite Matalan and go down the side steet), a bit more obtrusive signage may be an idea.

Inside it is a pleasing space. Nicely laid out I thought

Somewhere I would happily wile away some time with a coffee.

The food

On the food front, the menu is pretty focussed with a small number of breakfast items, bagels, “loaded” toast items (nice to see them using local baker’s, Pettigrew, breads) and omelettes

Whilst tempted by the rather nice sounding ” Italian” and “mushrooms” toast items, I am very partial to an omelette. Simplicity itself, an omelette is (in theory) a quick, easy and cheap meal. It is also one of those “simple” dishes that are oh so easy to bugger up. Get it wrong and you have a rubbery mess.

I love a good omelette (very underrated “fast” food), so decided on one of those on offer here for £5 with 3 fillings. I choose cheese, mushroom and bacon as my fillings.

What arrived was a handsome and substantial beast

with a very generous amounts of said filling.

This was a very nice omelette. Not overcooked, so it retained a touch of looseness in the centre, a nice fluffiness towards the edge and it was perfectly seasoned. I very much enjoyed it and found it filling and good value for a fiver.

What I also quite liked was they didn’t feel the need to throw a superfluous garnish on to the plate. To me these are all to often a waste of plate space and when undressed just plain boring (no more than rabbit food).

Most places seem to feel the need to add one, however unnecessary, to a dish and it is nice to see this place having enough faith (and rightly so) in what it offers (at least in terms of what I had – perhaps it was left off in error) to provide it unembellished. Less is often more in the case of use of garnishes in my opinion.

Whilst I didn’t have one, the cakes here also looked rather nice.

The drink

With “Coffee Co.” in the place’s name you are entitled to expect a decent cup of jo and they have a nice selection of classics on the drinks menu (including my coffee of choice, a cortado) as well as other hot and cold drinks.

Prices seem to me to be quite reasonable, with my ordered cortado being £2.10.

Very good coffee this,

with distinct mocha and chocolate notes and a citrus tang at the end.

The chap who served it apologised for the lack of a pretty coffee picture in the foam. I said I didn’t care as it is not what it looks like, but what it tastes like that is important. If a barista’s milk foam art was a faithful rendition of the Taj Mahal I wouldn’t be impressed if the coffee was rubbish.

I asked what the coffee was and was shown a bag of roasted beans from local roasters, Welsh Coffee Roasters (again nice to see them keeping it local in terms of the supply chain)

A Nicaraguan number, in the form of a Jinotego blend, and very nice it was too.

The verdict

I really liked the Big Moose Coffee Co. Good food, good coffee and a very good cause.

A nice spot for brekkie, lunch or an afternoon snack.

It is almost next to one of the Starbucks on Queen Street (the one opposite Matalan towards the Castle end) and is infinitely better. How these chains have proliferated is beyond me, when invariably independents (certainly in Cardiff) are so much better.

I also think the Big Moose Coffee Co’s. premise of giving a hand up rather than a hand out, with the training and offer of a job for a homeless person very much along the lines of

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime

is fantastic.

Hand outs help, but hand ups change lives.

I very much hope they are successful in their aim (lit up on the wall inside the place) of “Leaving the world better than we found it”.

A noble aim and they certainly seem up for the challenge.

Would I go back? Definately. It is a nice place, run by good people, serving good food and good coffee. What’s not to like?

Personally I would pep up the signage a bit though. It is not the most visible in its location with not much passing trade, other than on Queen Street itself, so it needs something to draw people in.

The details

Address: 4-5 Fredrick Street, Cardiff, CF10 2DD

Tel: 07977 585548

Website: click here

Twitter: @bigmoosecoffee

Instagram: @bigmoosecoffeeco

Opening hours: Mon- Fri: 07.00 – 17.00; Sat: 09.00 – 18.00 and Sun:1100 – 17.00

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