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Coffeesmith – the paw-fect café?

I can’t think of many better ways to be welcomed into a café than with a wall of dog photos. Luckily, customers at Coffeesmith are treated to just that. 

This charming independent café is tucked away in the Golden Cross shopping arcade, which is adjacent to the Covered Market and accessible from Cornmarket Street. Its location is ideal: simultaneously tucked away in a quiet area and close to the city centre. 

Its unique selling point? Its dog-friendliness. Although not immediately useful to Oxford students, this did positively influence my opinion of the café before even entering. Customers are first greeted with a wall of polaroids of very cute dogs, labelled with their names, which I confess that I spent an embarrassing amount of time examining. Pets are not only tolerated here, but taken good care of – Coffeesmith offers dog treats.

I was greeted by the friendly baristas and took a seat by the window. There were tables outside in the arcade, which I hope to return and make use of when the weather warms up. I visited at lunchtime, and despite the relatively limited menu – consisting of toast, bagels, and grilled sandwiches – Coffeesmith is one of those places which may have few options, but executes each of them very well. I also caught a glimpse of a wide array of sweet treats at the counter which looked varied and interesting.

I opted for the avocado toast, which cost £8.20, and – trying to convince myself that summer has arrived despite the 12oC forecast – an iced americano, which was rather reasonably priced at £3.30. Though I’m no connoisseur, I was able to recognise that the coffee was great. It’s a goal of mine to visit as many independent cafés as possible in Oxford, and I can confidently say that this coffee ranks highly.

My avocado toast arrived before long; the two pieces of sourdough were topped with a surprisingly generous amount of sliced avocado, and sprinkled with spicy and salty seasoning. I was expecting something akin to the boring, hardly seasoned avocado toast I make for myself at home, but Coffeesmith’s take on that modern classic opened my eyes to its potential. The subtle hint of the olive oil used to toast the bread combined with the seasoning to infuse the well-ripened avocado with flavour, a welcome addition to an ingredient which can be somewhat bland if not prepared well. Overall, I was really pleased and pleasantly surprised with my choice, and I recommend it highly to those both new to and familiar with the dish.

I was also lucky enough to be able to try a bite of another toast option, which was topped with smoked chicken, rocket, sun-dried tomatoes, and – the star of the show – pesto aioli. Once again, this classic combination was taken to new heights and I found the alternative creamier texture for the pesto taste to be a triumph. I would seriously recommend this too – perhaps to those who consider avocado toast too basic a choice.

All in all, I was thoroughly pleased by my visit to Coffeesmith. If I had to find one gripe with it, it would be that my phone was not able to connect to the internet when I was inside, so it may not be the ideal location for your academic work. But for dates, lunches, brunches, or an afternoon coffee, it’s the perfect spot – whether or not you have a dog to bring along.

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