The Café Critique: The Missing Bean

The Missing Bean is a staple of the central Oxford café scene. The haunt of many an Oxford hipster and coffee fanatic, both old and young, it is renowned for serving absolutely delicious coffee. It is the quintessential student haunt with the prevalence of MacBooks making my HP feel slightly out of place; not for the first time! Nevertheless, a French vocabulary book and a Le Monde can do the job of looking pretentious just as well.

Situated on Turl Street, it is perfectly placed for a ‘short’ break from the Rad Cam or Bodleian Library as well as being close to shops, if your family or friends are visiting.

The coffee has a brilliant reputation, which is completely justified as it is absolutely delicious. You can also buy the coffee grounds if you want to attempt to make their fabulous coffee at home. They have standard sizes (regular and large) and reasonable prices, a large cappuccino is £2.60, they also have soya milk and you can ask for more shots of espresso in your coffee if you wish.

Coffee is not the only drink available, however, as they also have a good range of chocolatey drinks, ideal for someone with a sweet tooth. Their ‘Italian hot chocolate’ is gooey and basically melted chocolate, guaranteed to warm the heart even after the worst tute in the world. Their ‘iced chocolate’ is lesser known, but is great especially considering the increasing prevalence of the sun in Oxford; who knows how long this weather will last?! I’m not really a fan of their mocha though, perhaps because it’s not quite chocolatey enough, but that’s a minor point.

Food wise, as per Oxford, it’s a little pricey- or at least that’s how my inner Scrooge feels. Nevertheless, hunger and convenience, plus the delicious smell of salmon, means that I do cave and have the odd salmon and dill bagel, which are yummy and fresh! I have never had one of their toasted sandwiches but their fillings are very enticing and the bread looks good. Likewise, they serve a variety of cakes and pastries, for the larks among the humanities students. I highly recommend the chocolate and lavender cake, did I mention I have a sweet tooth?

The baristas are extremely friendly, once when I was in the queue with a friend and the wait had been a bit long (but really not that long!) we got Italian hot chocolates on the house! When it’s a bit quiet, chats are frequent and you know you’re a bit predictable (and when you’re spending too much money on coffee) when the baristas know what you’re going to order.

The only slight downside is the wait, the queues can be long especially around lunchtime, but do not be deceived if there is a long queue, service for coffee is relatively fast and often the queue can seem longer due to the people waiting around the entrance. A queue of ten people might actually be one of four. However, it is worth noting that the bagels, though absolutely fabulous, can require a longer wait of maybe up to ten minutes.

A hawk eye for tables is essential, as the tables and bar are almost constantly full. As mentioned before, it is also a great place to work which means that despite someone appearing to have finished their coffee, they could be far from leaving.

They have also opened a concession in the St Cross building in the Common Room and their coffee roastery is on Magdalen Road, where you can pop in and see how it’s done as well as buy coffee.

Verdict: One of the best places for coffee in Oxford, very central so ideal for the Turl Street colleges or those frequenting central Oxford libraries.