Review: Artisan Roast, West End

Have you heard of hipsters? According to Urban Dictionary (which as we all know, like Wikipedia, is a verified font of knowledge) hipsters are ‘often seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses’. Until recently, I was fully convinced that this student crowd were fundamental to the success of Artisan Roast coffee joint and café.

‘Artisan’, as the cooler university students like to call it, lies just east from the main student hub on Woodlands. Whether postgrad or undergrad, this is the coffee shop to drink in – and I was sceptical. Not least because I’ve never been one of the cool kids. Inside, it was warm, the smell of coffee rising to the mezzanine and above; a mix of old furniture and random decoration twirled its way around the walls. It reminded me rather of Tchaiovna tearoom around the corner, but far more welcoming to both the individual and their bottom (sorry Tchaiovna, your ‘quaint’ seating just didn’t do it for me).

For my first bite of Artisan, I opted for ‘raw’ Snickers bar. It was delivered to our table (behind the stairs with dining room chairs and coffee sack wallpaper) with a hot mug of chai tea. My afternoon tea date picked carrot cake; such a chunky slice that we had to hunt for a doggy bag. As for me? I managed. The caramel, chocolate slice was so soft it did just dissolve, and had a little peanut crunch to give texture. And it’s raw! Technically healthy! (Hurrah!) Nothing synthetic, just a good dose of natural sugars to keep me going until teatime.

Sometimes you hear so much buzz about a coffee joint that you begin to wonder if it’s a fad. So far, Artisan, you have proved me wrong. Nope, I didn’t feel out of place between the quirky students and young families. Yes, the atmosphere is genuinely chilled, although most definitely constructed to be so (e.g. chalked graffiti under the stairs, a creative empty can of Lyle’s Golden Syrup as a candle holder…) but I loved it. I may not even have enough pennies to get my winter coat from the charity store, but I’ll save enough for that next slice of chocolate gloriousness. See you soon Artisan.

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