Over the past few years, I’ve learned a few things on this blog; I’ve learned not to trust friends who have unplanned trips to Dubai, I’ve learned how to enjoy shaving again and I’ve also learned that to talk about tea, I had to talk about coffee. I know a few people who have ordered a salted caramel pumpkin latte with extra soya sprinkles in their time (I’m looking at you SuburbanGent) and that’s fine but are the McDonalds or Burger Kings of the coffee world really what you want every day? With their questionable sourcing policies, suspicious tax implications and deliberately average flavour all leaving you with a rather bitter aftertaste, I suspect not. But what else is there for one to do? If you work in London, it’s no problem as you have many better alternatives to choose from, but with so many people living in Milton Keynes and commuting in, sooner or later someone was going to open our very own proper coffee house and guess what? They just did.
Out of Office Coffee is driven by the idea that people want their coffee to be as individual as they are. Every Starbucks is the same, you know what you’re getting even if you don’t like it. Out Of Office is making a different point, quite literally considering the separate styles of the two sites that are currently open. Their coffee shops, despite having been open only a few months in Stony Stratford and Newport Pagnell are already part of the local story. It’s fantastic to see them pulling in people who want what they want; namely to get as many people appreciating great coffee as possible.
Because being an individual is important. We know that great coffee is about how you want to drink it as much as it is what you actually drink and if Starbucks and Costa are the sorts of friends who always tell the same story about the toy camel and the packet of chocolate hob nobs (we’ve all got them), then Out Of Office is the quiet guy in the corner who has just come back from an awesome Foo Fighters gig where they went backstage and hung out for a while before getting a lift back to their hotel with the band. Who do you want to hang out with? Yeah, me too.
We called in to Out Of Office and spent a couple of hours talking to Steve about coffee, cakes and community. Let me run you through a few headlines; Their coffee is single sourced from the Workshop Coffee roasting house who support the local farmers by paying them more money for their stock, rather than simply buying their farms. Their cakes and pastries are from local MK suppliers where possible and anyone who has had a Minkimoo cake before knows what kind of quality that is and most importantly for anyone who is Out Of Office, their WiFi is quick and free with thumbs up all round.
Steve is pretty passionate about his coffee and as we talked, it was clear that he had done everything to get the most delicious cup he could. From the precise to-the-second operation of the espresso machine, through the particular blend of dark and milk chocolate chips used in their hot chocolate all the way to the brewer perfection countdown timer supplied with every cup of tea to make sure you get a great cuppa. It’s the attention to detail that’s the most impressive thing about Out Of Office and the more I spoke to Steve the more I realised that he was busy creating the sort coffee shop that he (and I) wanted to visit as a customer, rather than another Costa clone.
So Out Of Office have fantastic products, are nice to their suppliers, helpful to their customers and still cheaper than Starbucks. Was there anything wrong with them? Well, no not really. I found myself going back three days in a row when BT decided to cut off my internet connection for a while and by the end I liked them more than when I started. If you haven’t been and you like coffee, or tea, or free internet then drop by. If you have been and like them already then you won’t be surprised to see them popping up in a few more places in and around Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas in future but God knows how long I’ll end up spending there if they open one within walking distance…
Out Of Office invited us to go in for a chat where they plied us with a bit of coffee and a few cakes. I have since revisited both shops multiple times and still can’t find anything I didn’t like. I’ll keep trying though and maybe I’ll end up hating the colour of the chairs or something, I’ll let you know.