Monday, 26 September 2011

The Plan, Coffee Shop, Cardiff Review

I know next to diddly squat about coffee. I have a mug of PG tips for breakfast and if I’m in Starbucks then 9 times out of 10 I’ll just order a cuppa char as well. There are so many things that can go wrong with coffee that I just can’t be bothered. Either I’m repulsed by the bitter taste when the beans have been burnt. Failing that, the overwhelming strength of many cups make me gag on each mouthful like a shot of neat vodka. Or at the other extreme an overly milky latte doesn’t seem any more appealing than drinking half a litre of hot whole milk. Refreshing.  

On Saturday morning Mrs G and I needed a caffeine boost and a light bite to eat before engorging ourselves at The Great British Cheese Festival.

I’ve heard a number of good things about The Plan in the Morgan arcade. It’s been featured in The Independent 50 Best coffee shops in the UK; the head Barista was ranked 4th best in the UK Barista Championships and finally they’re Cardiff's only members of the third wave coffee movement.  All pretty strong accolades, especially if knew what third wave meant!

The 1st wave of coffee was when the consumption of instant coffee became very common.
The 2nd wave was when people began to enjoy speciality coffees such as lattes and cappuccinos.
The 3rd wave is all about viewing coffee as an an artisanal foodstuff (like wine) rather than as a commodity (like sugar).  This involves thinking more closely about varieties of beans, their growing region and their individual differences in flavour.

It all sounds a little poncey doesn’t it? However if this is the focus on detail required to produce a cup of coffee as good as The Plan’s then it’s most certainly worth it. For this the best cup of coffee I have ever had in Cardiff.

I opted for a large cafe latte (£2.50) which had a light smooth flavour, not a hint of bitterness, and just the right balance between coffee and milk. The swirl on the top of the froth looked pretty artistic too.
Mrs G’s cafetiere of Ethiopian Blend (£2.90) was even better. The tasting notes described this blend as “all about the sweetness and fruit” and it did exactly as it said on the tin. The coffee had a lovely natural sweetness to it and if I was being Oz Clarke-esque I’d definitely say I could pick out a hint of apricot. It was excellent.

The cafetiere menu - click to see it bigger
To go with our liquid refreshment I had a decent tea cake (£1.40) whilst Mrs G opted for a highly competent plate of buttery scrambled eggs and toast (£4.70).

Next time I’m looking for a cup of coffee in Cardiff, I definitely plan on going to The Plan- sorry that was too tempting.

The details: The Plan, 28-29 Morgan Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 1AF, Telephone - 029 2039 8764


  1. Looks like a good cup of coffee Gorro. Look forward to reading the blog of the festival. I imagine you gorged on lots of tasty cheese.

  2. Hiya,

    Just noticed your lovely review of your recent visit to the cafe - thanks - and I'm happy to hear you had such a nice experience.

    I constantly put a lot of work (and obsessive passion!) into the coffee, and have been at the cafe developing everything we do with this for several years now.

    Although I'm there full-time during the week, I'm not usually in on Saturdays, so I might not have been present when you visited. But I spend a lot of time training and monitoring standards for all the staff, so that even when I don't make the drink myself, the quality can be as high as possible. It's great to hear that the baristas I train are representing the coffee and techniques so well. I can tell just by looking at the style of the 'freepour' latte art pictured, that it was indeed not one of my own pours, and also that it was probably in fact Kas, one of my best baristas, who has become exceptionally skilled during his time with us - and so well done and full credit to him!

    The barista preparing the drink is a crucial variable when it comes to good coffee. It's all part of a whole chain of quality and attention to detail from farm to cup (as you rightly observe), that is achieved by using great, fresh-harvest coffees from the best farms, FRESHLY roasted by an artisan roaster (I work with James' Gourmet Coffee), and then carefully preparing these coffees with skilled techniques, on properly maintained, quality equipment.

    You can find out more about what I and we do with coffee on my coffee blog, The Bean Vagrant.

    Hope to see you again,

    Head Barista

  3. Thanks for your comment. I look forward to visiting again for some more of your lovely coffee.