As far as cafés go, there are three main choices from which to purchase your hot beverage and pastry: Café Nero, Costa Coffee, or Starbucks. These three fluctuate in popularity, Starbucks attracting hordes of people following its arrival in Britain in 1998, with people gradually returning their loyalty to Nero and Costa. At home, the interrail group’s automatic choice is Nero.
I personally have no particular attachment to one particular chain. Whilst the caramel hot chocolate in Starbucks has always struck me as a lukewarm, syrupy mess of artificiality, their chai tea lattes are unrivaled by any other chain. At the same time, Costa’s mint hot chocolate is one of my special favourites.
Coming to Warwick, therefore, it was no surprise to see a Costa Coffee on main campus. However, what caught my eye was the building with the name ‘Curiositea’ in the Piazza. It certainly aroused my curiosity. Going in, I fell instantly for this café. The vintage theme and closely arranged tables, chairs and sofas created a cosy, inviting atmosphere. Furthermore, I saw that it was a student initiative and that deeply impressed me. The fact that I had seen nothing like it further attracted me.
Being the professional food critic that I am (ahem), however, it was important to sample what they had to offer in order to make an informed judgment on this quirky, original place. What I like in my drinks is novelty and excitement. Curiositea offered exactly that. As well as offering my favourite Mint hot chocolate, there were other variations, such as Nutella, Toasted Marshmallow, and Hot Fudge. Their array of coffees and teas makes a one-off visit here impossible – I am in the process of making my way round the drinks menu.
Their food is also impressive. With an ever-changing selection of baked goods, all of which claim to be home baked, there is no feeling of commercial extortion and mass-production that I often feel with chain coffee shops. Their strawberry fairy cake was a strawberry flavoured sponge, with the softest, dreamiest strawberry buttercream icing I have come across in a long while.
The question I keep coming back to is why Curiositea hasn’t expanded to the real world outside of the Warwick bubble. However, I suppose that is part of their success. They are our little, delicious secret.