Café circuit: The Society Cafe

The Society Cafe is a haven in busy Oxford

Source: Wikimedia Commons

It’s easy to see why this place has become a favourite of Oxford’s students, coffee lovers and Australians alike. Coming from Sydney myself, where café culture is the culture, it’s refreshing to find somewhere in Oxford which is devoted to making your day better in every way it knows how.

The coffee, while fruitier and less bitter than The Missing Bean or JCT is good, especially for those soy, oat and almond drinkers among us. You are going to pay more than a high-street chain, but having an actual barista behind the machine using good coffee really does make a difference. Their range of teas is equally impressive, especially their English Breakfast and Black Chai. The real hero of the menu however, is the dark Madagascan hot chocolate. It’s bitter and rich without losing its flavour or becoming giddyingly sweet. I’ve never had better. The pastries, cakes and sandwiches are fairly expensive, I’ll admit, but they are delicious.

Where Society really separates itself from the competition is its dedication to atmosphere. Free from the hustle and bustle of certain Turl Street establishments, the vibe here is predominantly calm. The staff are friendly, the interior minimalist and slightly bare, and even when it gets crowded, it’s open and light enough not to feel claustrophobic.

Their collection of stunning magazines is a real highlight. Head to the shared table at the back or downstairs to the cosy basement for a range of indulgently large mags and coffee table books.

The level of care dedicated, not only to the drinks, but to the whole café experience is rare in the UK. People often tell me that good coffee shops are pretentious, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, Society is full of people that love cafés, but it’s also full of friends meeting for coffee, and students taking an hour’s shelter from the onslaught of an Oxford term. From the welcoming service and good coffee, to the thoughtfully designed interior and collection of reading material, Society is a breath of fresh air in Oxford’s café scene.

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