Review: Espresso Library
Bikes, caffeine, avocado
Espresso Library is a coffee shop and cycling café on East Road, near the fire station.
Despite the cycling culture here, it is the first café of this type in Cambridge. It is designed so that cyclists can stop and have a coffee, with bike racks on the walls so that bikes do not have to be left on the street. Espresso Library attracts a range of customers and is a popular place for students to go and work.
The staff’s passion for the coffee is evident. A lot of effort has been put into getting the exact taste they want, using different blends of coffee beans. The head barista Luke was enthusiastic as he described the nuances of their custom made Slayer coffee machine (there are only 3 of these in use in the UK), explaining the importance of keeping time, temperature and consistent to maintain the high quality of coffee produced.
They also share a love of cycling, which perhaps is inevitable when the place you work has bikes hanging from the ceiling. Luke asked his colleague ‘do you think its ok to tell them that a lot of us shave our legs here?’ as he told us about their cycling teams and the weekly bike rides that they organise.
As well as their custom made coffee machine, Espresso Library have also perfected a pour over filter coffee, made in a Chemex Coffeemaker (a non-porous glass container which brews coffee without imparting any flavours of its own), which Flic ordered. This results in a unique, quite fruity taste and is highly caffeinated. One order of this contains almost 4 cups, so Flic was ready to do lots of work by the time we left.
Boringly, I just went for a cappuccino but it was very good.
The healthy and nutritious food menu reflects the interests of the owners – a dedicated cyclist and a yoga instructor – and has plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. We ordered ciabattas, which are made using bread from North Street Bakery just down the road. Mine was chicken and gruyere, Flic’s was avocado and mozzarella but the fillings are changed daily. There is also a breakfast menu which is served until 12pm weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday.
There are also a lot of cakes available. I tried a sticky date cake which was delicious, and Flic had a chocolate brownie which she described as being ‘definitely up there’ out of the many brownies she has had in her life (undeniably high praise).
We also each tried one of their smoothies, all of which contain interesting combinations of ingredients which sound incredibly good for you – my ‘white’ smoothie was a mix of homemade organic almond milk, banana, chia seeds, dates and cinnamon and Flic’s ‘Coco Green’ had moringa powder, spinach, banana, coconut water and desiccated coconut. I would normally be quite wary of anything that sounds 100% good for you, but these were really tasty and very refreshing.
Espresso Library is currently exhibiting a collection of artwork called ‘Paint’ by Channy, an abstract painter who does large canvases with lots of colour. The artwork is changed about every 6 weeks and next they will be showing some of Loukas Morley’s work, which they are very excited about. Morley already designed the stools especially for Espresso Library, and from the bikes hanging from the ceiling to the large yellow lights which have come from a factory in Latvia, each aspect of the room has been carefully planned.
Espresso Library stays open into the evening as a bar, and hosts regular events. The agenda for this week included a coding class and a PechaKucha evening.
Students get a 10% discount and there is also a special athlete’s discount – any member of a Cambridge sports team can double their portions for 50% more.
210 East Road,
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 07:00-23:00, Sun 09:00-18:00