Bike Beans cafe, Ashted - review.

Myself and AD visited Bike Beans last year and were slightly underwhelmed by the experience. My coffee was weak, and the cake dry. AD couldn't be arsed to order anything, he just didn't like the place at all. We left muttering that we couldn't see the point of going, mainly because the food didn't seem that good, but also because it was a bit off the beaten path for us. But, well, that's all a bit negative isn't it? Avoiding a bike cafe! Come on Muddy, give it another go. And since I've been avoiding Ali's due to poor coffee, I thought why not try it again. Ashtead isn't far from Headley really, not on a bike. So, a year on has it improved?

Well firstly, even before entering the place, you can't argue against the owners' community spirit. Nobody can hold a candle to his cycle promotions. Youth cycling, encouraging women out, classes for the more experienced cyclist, or evening rides with a meal; all catered for. It looks like a really good social hang out for cyclists, and not in a lame "I'm doing this to sell coffee" kind of way. It all seems genuine and not at all cynical. All of this is promoted by outside boards, interior adverts and stuff on the web. By the time you actually get to order, you know that this guy is mad keen at cycling, and loves the community of Ashtead, so surely he can't let the side down with the food? There's an unwritten rule that a cycle cafe has to have good food.

But has the food improved? Perhaps I went on a bad day originally, but both coffee and cake were good today. The coffee wasn't so strong as to de-enamel teeth, but neither was it watery dullness. The coffee passed then. The cake was lovely and I understand baked locally. It was easily on par with those at Box Hill, a place famous for the cakes, and way better than Ali's cafĂ© at Headley. The cost was OK at £3.50 for medium coffee and slice of cake, but given that you can sit indoors, lock your bike up outside, and sit in a bike ambience, then the price to a degree becomes irrelevant. You're lapping up the friendly cycle based atmosphere. That's pretty cool and worth the money for me.

Last time I visited I could see no reason to go back ever again. However that has all changed. It's a lovely little place that deserves our support. Oh yes, it also has a selection of cycle tools available for use by customers and sells all the emergency cycle gear you need. Coffee, cake and fix that puncture? Well why not.

Go on, give it a go. It is now right up there with Nonna Rosa's in Cousldon and the NT Box Hill cafe.