Camper Coffee Co. in McCoys Arcade, Fore St, Exeter EX4 3AN www.campercoffee.co
Camper Coffee Co. is known to most as a mobile vintage café and coffee van brewing coffee from a very rare and beautifully restored 1964 VW Splitscreen Container Van called ‘Rosie’, which has been going since 2012.
I had read that a new coffee shop would be replacing the diner in McCoy’s Arcade and was pleased to hear it was Camper Coffee who I had seen here and there at events. Thanks to the wonders of Twitter with its live information – I found out they were ready to face the public from Monday 21st March.
So on Tuesday, their ‘day 2’, I power walked down town from work, hoping to squeeze it into my 45 minute lunch.
As I walked into the arcade, the transformation was very noticeable. From afar, that end of the arcade looked so much fresher, hipper and more spacious. I was looking forward to seeing what was on offer. I was greeted by a very cheerful lady, who was very patient in telling me what was available for lunch – twice! (It was all so good I couldn’t decide and had to hear it again). They had a good selection of what you would expect to drink in a coffee shop at very reasonable prices.
There were also some delicious cakes on offer supplied by The Exploding Bakery, of which samples were available freely on the counter, so no surprises as to why they were so good. There were also some pastries that I believe they make there – I somehow found the will (or stupidity) to politely decline, as I did have to return to work afterwards and function accordingly without an overly full belly.
They had beautifully presented filo tarts on offer made by Cockleshell Deli who are based on the east side of Dartmoor, less than 10 miles away. They are warmed up and served with salad and crisps – either vegetable crisps or tortillas – depending on the choice of tart. Choices included hunters chicken, fajita chicken, homity and mushroom, pesto and goats cheese as well as a few others.
I opted for a small cappucino and a fajita chicken tart and went to sit down at one of the wooden tables, facing outwards into the arcade.
As I sipped my cappuccino I pondered at how the view has changed from the previous, slightly darker and more enclosed occupier – it is now completely open, light and airy, with full visibility to the entrance of the arcade. Plenty of wood and metal, with a cool warehouse vibe to it, but also down to earth at the same time with an amazing exposed brick wall along one side.
I was sitting on one of the three long tables available and the other side of the room there is a long wall mounted table with stools as well as plenty of plug sockets for those on a working lunch or with devices needing as much of a recharge as someone wanting coffee. Some charming lights travel across the ceiling giving an al-fresco feeling to it all.
My coffee was served in a glass ‘tumbler’ with a pretty coffee art finish to the top. I will admit I do buy coffee from only one of the well known chains occasionally, then the majority of the time I buy from independents so my palate knows its way around the variety of flavours on offer. It was a lovely coffee; biscuity and malty – oddly I would almost liken it to a porter ale or stout with similar malty qualities. It wasn’t fruity like some coffees I have had in town, not that I mind that flavour but it was certainly different from others which is a good thing. No need for sugar for me either which, to me, says how good it is. I am a sugary girl normally but for some reason, with coffee from independents, I seem to able to enjoy a coffee without it.
The lovely server brought my food over and it looked very enticing and I dove straight in. The tart was well packed with tasty chicken, peppers, onions and topped with ricotta I think – or perhaps some sour cream. Either way this added a lovely creamy and cooling note to the flavoursome filling. The tortillas on the side were of a high quality and very tasty, and an adequate serving of leaves. All I would say is that the leaves could have done with a drop of dressing and I think the tart was warmed in a microwave as unfortunately the pastry wasn’t crisp at all – I did bear in mind that this was only day two, so I hope they invest in an oven although I realise quick turnaround is something to consider as they are not a restaurant, but I would highly recommend it in order to keep the integrity of such a delicious product.
I was also given a loyalty card attached to a really cool and useful lanyard – no digging through my purse searching for the card when needed! Overall, on day two, a relaxing and delicious lunch out of the way of the main fast paced feel of the city that I endure every day. I look forward to seeing what else they offer over time. I did overhear some conversation that mentioned them adding more tables in the shop and out into the arcade, which will mean more customers can enjoy their offering as well as being licensed for evenings – so watch this space!
One minor thing to note which is not their fault, is that the toilet is separate from the coffee shop, so bear this in mind if you need to make use of the facilities and have to leave your table unattended or have a child to attend to. On the positive side, I feel this would be a spacious enough area for parents with prams to meet as well as being accessible for those with mobility concerns – the benches are also easily moved as they are on castors.
I unfortunately couldn’t make their evening launch of the licensed espresso bar offering of the business that was held on the Thursday, but I do hope to visit again soon as I have tried every espresso martini on offer in the city and look forward to seeing how theirs measures up!