UPDATE (January 2017): Unfortunately, Quarter Horse's Oxford café has now closed, but you can still visit them in Birmingham. A new bike café, Peloton Espresso, has opened in its place.
The second stop on my most recent Oxford coffee tour was Quarter Horse Coffee on the Cowley Road, a fifteen-minute stroll from the city centre. I had driven past Quarter Horse a few times and noticed the huge blue 'coffee' sign, but didn't add it to my coffee to-do list until the friendly folks at the Keen Bean recommended it.
Quarter Horse roasts its own coffee at its newly opened second location in Birmingham, and several varieties were on offer when I visited the original Oxford cafe on Saturday. It's cosy inside — even on a bright, sunny day — with long wooden tables and exposed-brick walls. I was impressed with the breadth of the coffee menu: as well as the usual espresso drinks, they serve an espresso flight, batch- and hand-brewed filter coffee and a selection of iced coffees, including cold brew.
I selected an Ethiopian Sidamo coffee brewed in an Aeropress (£3.50) and sat down to read and to people-watch. It was pleasing, although not too surprising, to see a constant stream of customers in such a nice cafe, from local DJs to European tourists and students. My coffee was really good with a smooth but refreshing fruity flavour. I hadn't quite reached my caffeine quota for the day, though, so I ordered a cold brew (£2) too. The cold brew had a sweet flavour, but could have been a little stronger.
I also bought a bag of coffee to take home to my parents. I picked a bag of Colombian La Joyeria beans, which my dad and I both tried at home and which we agreed was excellent (it has a rich, chocolatey taste). As I had been staring at the brownies on the counter for the past 20 minutes, I also bought a raspberry brownie (£2.20, but it was so big and rich that I had to share it with my parents. It was super-tasty and the other cakes looked delicious too.
Quarter Horse is well worth the short walk away from the Starbucks- and Nero-dominated city centre. You will be rewarded with a cafe that offers a great selection of really tasty coffee, a relaxed vibe and friendly staff.
Quarter Horse Coffee. 76 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1JB. Website. Twitter.