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Our 2014 in blackboards…

I thought a nice way to summarise 2014 at Afternoon Tease would be to post my favourite blackboards pictures taken throughout the year. Every morning, come rain or shine, I write and snap a new blackboard announcement and post it on Twitter (@afternoontease) and on our Facebook Page (AfternoonTeaseCafe).

Here we go…

January…

January

February…

February

February

March…

March

April…

April

May…

May

June…

June

July…

July

July

August…

August

September…

September

October…

October

October

November…

November

December…

December

December

December

December

Happy New Year

It’s been a wonderful year for us. Thankyou for your support. Without your custom, cake and caffeine addictions, friendship and banter Afternoon Tease wouldn’t be here. Here’s to 2015 and let’s hope I can think up another 313 blackboards 🙂

 

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Christmas at Afternoon Tease (and our festive opening hours)…

Christmas has well and truly arrived at Afternoon Tease!

Our decorations are up…

We’ve made our Christmas cakes, which involved the biggest and heaviest bowl of cake mix I’ve ever encountered…

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Please excuse the messiness…it was quite an ordeal man handling that amount of cake mix into the tins 🙂 …

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We’re feeding them with a variety of liquors…two are fed on Sailor Jerry’s spiced rum, two on Brandy and two of them are teetotal and fed only on Earl grey tea.

We made our own marzipan, much to the delight of my Mother, who is a serious addict!

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and got down to decorating them…

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This year we’ve even made our own mincemeat, which we’re using in these gorgeous little mincemeat Bakewell puddings…

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and my Mum has been sharing her Polish paper star making skills…

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Although we love this time of year and all of the festive baking and goodwill it entails, the Afternoon Tease Team also need a little break to be with our families and to eat and drink ourselves silly!

So, below are our Christmas and New Year opening times for you to see when we’ll be here for you, as a little respite from your Christmas/sale shopping or a little haven of tranquility if you just need to get out of the house…come and say hi over the festive season!

Christmas / New Year opening times…

Monday 22 Dec- 8am – 6pm
Tuesday 23 Dec – 8am – 6pm
Wednesday 24 Dec – CLOSED
Thursday 25 Dec – CLOSED
Friday 26 Dec – CLOSED
Saturday 27 Dec – CLOSED
Sunday 28 Dec – 10am – 5pm

Monday 29 Dec –  9am – 5pm
Tuesday 30 Dec – 9am – 5pm
Wednesday 31 Dec – 9am – 5pm
Thursday 1 Jan – CLOSED
Friday 2 January – 9am – 5pm
Saturday 3 January – 9am – 5pm
Sunday 4 January – 10am – 5pm

Now, last but not least…if you’re looking for a gift idea for that coffee/cake fiend in your life…look no further! We do treat vouchers

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There are 2 options for you to choose from…

The drink and cake Treat Voucher at £5.50, perfect as a stocking filler or secret Santa!…it entitles the lucky recipient to a hot drink and slice of cake of their choice.

Or you can purchase a Treat Voucher to the value of £5, £10, £15 or £20, which can be used as currency in the cafe for anything the recipient desires 🙂

We aren’t able to give change for the Treat Vouchers but if you/the recipient would like to spend more than the value of the voucher, the balance can be paid in cash.

To buy treat vouchers just pop into the cafe and talk to one of the team!

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We are 1!

The reason for this blog post, as the title suggests, is a very important milestone in the life of Afternoon Tease…on Saturday 25th October we celebrated our 1st Birthday! When asked whether it felt like a year, I had to admit I wasn’t entirely sure. I definitely feel exhausted enough for it to have been a year and in a (good) way it actually feels longer, like we’ve become part of the King Street furniture :).

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On reflection (which has happened a lot recently), we’ve come such a long way in that year, especially when I think back to our opening day, where we bumbled around cluelessly behind a barely held together facade of professionalism. We’ve established a day to day routine and put a lot of processes in place to make sure that all of the jobs get done…cakes made, cleaning completed and most importantly…customers served, however every day is different and we are still always kept on our toes! A year has always sounded like an unfathomably long time & although I’d been celebrating every single month of the business since opening, I was somehow surprised when the year came around!

To celebrate our Birthday we decorated the cafe…

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and I made a ginormous, two tiered chocolate stout cake using Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast, an oatmeal stout brewed with coffee!

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I also added a few shots of our espresso (Caravan‘s Market Blend). It seemed a fitting cake for the celebration as the chocolate Guinness cake has to be our most popular cake and I wanted to make this one bigger and better than ever!…

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Here’s the finished article…

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It didn’t take long for it to start disappearing…

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going…

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going…

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gone…

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Our Birthday turned out to be our busiest day on record, which felt amazing! Many of our regulars, who we have now also come to call friends, dropped in to wish us Happy Birthday and we received some amazing cards, some even homemade nonetheless…

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and a very special ode, written by wonderful customer and author, Menna Van Praag, which has now taken pride of place in our toilet (if you’ve seen how cool our toilet is you’ll know this is a good thing)…

Ode

A couple of particularly dedicated cake fiends, Kaylan & Dawn gave us a very touching gift, which finally brought the tear to my eye that I’d held at bay all day. They presented me with a sliver cake slice, which had belonged to Dawn’s Grandmother. They’d had it engraved with ‘Saturday is Cake Day’ a tradition that they withhold stringently every week 🙂

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Good friend and important member of the opening team, Ivana (Miss Igs), came back for a guest shift and was reunited with Francesco, our beautiful La Marzocco coffee machine…

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I’d decided that it’s be nice to have a little shindig at the cafe in the evening for some of the people (I couldn’t fit you all!) who had been important to our first year. I found it very hard to keep my invite list manageable but the ‘bijou’ proportions of the cafe helped me reign it in. Saying that, at one point it did feel like we were having some kind of competition to see just how many people we could get in…

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Unfortunately for me (and everyone else) I was heckled into saying a few words. After a terrible fumbly start, where no actual words escaped my mouth, I managed to string a few together…firstly to thank my team. As a very independent and stubborn person, it’s a source of frustration to me that I physically can’t run the cafe on my own 🙂 …however, I’ve got (and have had throughout the year) an amazing team, who work so hard and make the Afternoon Tease experience what it is. I read a review recently that said that it was nice to find a place where the staff looked like they genuinely enjoyed being there…it made my day!

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The current dream team enjoying a pre-party tipple!

I also thanked my Electrician, Richard, who has had to respond to a few crazed early morning phone calls, my family who support me on a daily basis in so many ways and my friends who have stuck by me despite the fact that I’ve pretty much gone AWOL socially for the last year, have declined most invitations and haven’t made it out past 9pm…they’ve stuck by me and are still persevering 🙂

The biggest thanks has to go to my customers, without whom, Afternoon Tease just wouldn’t exist! I’ve met some amazing people in the last year and absolutely love the eclectic mix of people who pass though our door! One year is only a short period of time in the grand scale of things and I hope to be around for many more!

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2 weeks in and just drawing breath…

Wow, well, where to start?…it’s been 2 whole weeks since we opened the doors of Afternoon Tease! It’s passed like a whirlwind and I’d like to start by thanking each and every one of you who have supported me by coming in and for the lovely messages that you have sent…all have been very much appreciated and me and the team have been feeling the love!

It feels strange to actually have the time to sit still and write this blog and to be honest, I’m sure there are cakes to be baked at this precise moment but I really wanted to take the time to give you an update on the blog…I posted the last one abruptly on the day before we opened and then went silent!

For those of you who haven’t managed to make it in for a visit yet, here are a few pictures to fill in the blanks…

Neon

My beautiful neon sign…I got my logo, designed by Mr Penfold, transformed into Neon by Outline Displays.

Opening day...

I took this photo just before opening the doors for the very first time on Friday 25th October 🙂

We fired up Francesco (our beloved coffee machine) and awaited out 1st customers.

We fired up Francesco (our beloved coffee machine) and awaited out 1st customers.

Those first couple of days were so crazy…adrenalin mixed with nerves and total sleep deprivation made for a real emotional rollercoaster and it took a while for the realisation to hit that the cafe I was working in was actually mine! 🙂 The learning curve has been a ridiculously steep one and I’m very much in need of some good sleep and a day off feels like the stuff of fairytales but gradually over the last couple of weeks me and the team have been getting into our stride.

We are open from 8am until 7pm, Tuesday to Friday, serving breakfast…

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Featuring crumpets from Chris at Dovecote Bakery and my Mums homemade jam and marmalade…

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and a lunch menu, which changes regularly. Here is an example modelled by Miss Igs herself…

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I’ve been getting the menu board written and posted on Facebook and Twitter by mid morning…

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So follow us to be kept updated and come and get your lunch fix from 12pm 🙂

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We are also open on Saturday’s from 9am-5pm and Sunday 10am-4pm serving brunch on both days until 3pm. As many of you will know, as I’m always banging on about it, brunch is my favourite meal of the day. This was the menu we served up this weekend…

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Featuring my very favourite dish of pan con tomate with Serrano ham…

Pan con tomate w/ Serrano ham

The very talented Tom Milton, came and took a few pics at the cafe in the first week, capturing it in all of it’s brand new spangly glory…here are a couple of my faves…

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

I’ve been loving having free reign over 2 ovens and have been trying out some brand new cakes…

Pear and marzipan cake

Pear and marzipan cake

Plum cake w/ cheesecake ripple

Plum cake w/ cheesecake ripple

aswell as the good old classics including my chocolate Guinness cake w/cream cheese icing and creating the cake filled counter of my dreams…

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I have a few very special mentions to finish this post on…firstly, a huge heartfelt thankyou goes to my my Mum & Dad, without whom, Afternoon Tease would not exist! I am ridiculously in debt to them for all of the hard work, help, love and support they have given me throughout!…

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My siblings were also roped in and pulled out all the stops to get the cafe finished…

My Sister building the counter

My Sister building the counter

Beautiful tiling by my brother, Tom

Beautiful tiling by my brother, Tom

and also a big thankyou to Ivana (Miss Igs), my 2nd in command, friend and general sounding board :)…

Miss Igs

and to my awesome team…Robbie, Ashley, Charley and Martha!

Over and out for now but I look forward to seeing some more of you in the cafe in the coming weeks!

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Opening times for Friday 25th and weekend brunch at Afternoon Tease…

I can’t believe it’s only 2 days to go until we open Afternoon Tease!

We’re working like Trojans to make it happen! Today, I will be rolling up my sleeves and cleaning it from top to bottom, ready for a full day of unpacking tomorrow to turn it into a fully functioning (we hope) cafe for Friday morning!

Afternoon Tease - work in progress

On Friday we will be serving a reduced menu of drinks and cakes only from 8am until 7pm.

On Saturday we will be open 9am-5pm for brunch and again on Sunday 10am-4pm.

We will launch our full breakfast and lunch menus on Tuesday 29th October, when you can expect delicious sourdough toast, crumpets, porridge to help get the day off to a good start and a changing selection of sandwiches available for lunch and cake…of course!

I’m really excited to open the doors and greet our first customers but please bear with us to begin with until we get up to speed, we’re a brand new team, in a brand new cafe and although our service will definitely be with a smile, it may be a bit slower until we learn where everything is 🙂

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The end is in sight…Afternoon Tease is opening on Friday 25th October!

I promised you a photo heavy blog update and I wouldn’t dare rescind on a promise…plus, I just can’t wait for you to see what we’ve been up to!

But 1st, without further ado, I’d like to announce that we’ll be opening the doors to Afternoon Tease on Friday 25th October!

We’re in the final stages now and this week it’s going to all come together, culminating in a huge cleaning session followed by an even bigger baking session! 🙂 I can’t wait to get my hands on the ovens that have just been installed, not to mention my La Marzocco, which is arriving tomorrow!

But here, to whet your appetite are some pictures of what we’ve been up to in the last few weeks…

I finally got to splash some colour on the walls…3 coats of it to be precise……

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Feature wall 2nd coatFeature wall 3rd coat

But I love the finished article.

The counter was added to on a daily basis…drinks fridge, water boiler…

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My kitchen started looking like an intergalactic space station…

The kitchen

A very exciting piece of furniture arrived, here’s a sneaky peak but you’ll just have to pop in when we’re open to see it in all its glory!…

Exciting furniture

My main job last weekend was the floor…I’ve had plans for the floor for a long time and knew it was going to be high maintenance to carry out but was hoping it’d be worth it. I wasn’t disappointed! Welcome to the floor diaries…

Day 1 – Floor is sanded and beautiful oak is unearthed from under the brown sludgy paint…

Oak floor

Here’s a ‘before’ shot…

Floor 'before'

Day 2 – Miss Igs and I got busy painstakingly drawing a grid over the entire floor…

Miss Igs drawing the grid

and then masking & painting the alternate squares of the alternate rows…

Flooring day 2

It’d be too easy just to paint them, I wanted the grain of the wood to show through, so mixed white spirit with satinwood paint, painted it on and then wiped it off until I had the desired effect…I love making work for myself 😉

Day 3  – After 10 hours of crouching on the floor the day before, I felt like I’d been beaten up but there’s not rest for the wicked so I got back to it, masking and painting the other alternate squares to produce a harlequin pattern…

Flooring day 3

By the end of day 3, I was knackered but so chuffed to see my floor vision as a reality!…

Flooring painted

Day 4 – I had to wait until the evening, when everyone had vacated, to set about varnishing this bad boy! I was using a hardcore floor varnish, which involved  the nerve wracking task of measuring and mixing 2 elements that made up the varnish and then using a roller to liberally coat the whole floor…

Floor day 3

Floor day 3

Day 4 – Was pretty similar to day 3…I had to lightly sand the whole floor before giving it another coat and here it is, 4 days later…

Finished article

I’m so happy with it and ever so slightly over protective of it…is it acceptable to hand out slippers at the door? 😉

There has been plenty of other activity going on too. A bit of chair painting…

Painting chairs

and counter cladding…

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which I stained and varnished yesterday…

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Just the counter top to be fitted now.

The cafe front has been given a new lease of life by my Mum…

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and very excitingly for me, my ovens are in! After cooking in a small domestic oven for so long, I can’t wait to start playing with this kit…

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Even writing this blog and looking back at all of the photos, I cant believe how far we’ve come in such a short time! It’s getting so exciting as I see the cafe emerge from under the dust and jumble of powertools!

Just a few more days of hard graft and we’ll be ready to open the doors and welcome you in on Friday 25th!

Remember, if you’d like to keep up with what’s going on at Afternoon Tease, you can sign up here.

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Announcing our all important coffee and tea suppliers at Afternoon Tease…

It’s amazing how quickly things have been moving at the cafe in the last couple of weeks. Its gone from being an empty shell to actually resembling a cafe, more so every single day! It feels really strange to see the vision that has been in my head for so long slowly become a reality! I’m constantly playing the role of jack of all trades and a typical day (not that they exist anymore) might find me baking in the morning, popping to the cafe, whilst a cake is in the oven to let a tradesman in, going to Ridgeons for more supplies, negotiating contracts on the phone, sourcing tiles and bidding on eBay…all with the grand aim of getting through that godforsaken ‘to do’ list and opening the doors to Afternoon Tease!

There’s a big update blog post coming up but here’s a sneaky peak…

Getting there...

I’ve been wanting to announce our coffee and tea suppliers to you for a while now but finding the time to sit down and write a blog has evaded me…I apologise. But I hope that you’ll agree with me that it’s been worth the wait.

I am a complete coffee fiend and from the moment that I decided that I wanted to open a cafe, the quality of the coffee has been paramount! Whilst living in London I fell in love with a newly opened cafe, close to my place of work, called Caravan (in fact I have blogged about it herehere, here and here). Firstly I loved their coffee but I also loved the atmosphere they had created, their decor, not to mention their incredible food! In a nutshell…they just get it! After I moved back to Cambridge, Caravan branched out into a second site in Granary Square, Kings Cross

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and are going from strength to strength. When it came to deciding on a coffee supplier it didn’t take me long to think about Caravan. I really wanted to to introduce a new coffee to Cambridge and one that I believe in. Miss Igs and I took a day trip to the big smoke to visit a few roasteries and I was happy to see that it wasn’t long before Ivana was won over too! We tasted their market blend espresso blend and were sold!…

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IMG_7027They roast their own beans in small batches daily and are constantly developing their seasonal espresso blend (the one we’ll be serving) to make sure the best flavour characteristics have been brought out. They are amazingly passionate about their coffee and when we visited a second time we met Estelle, their Head Barista, a lady who knows her stuff! She took us through our paces and showed us how to make the perfect coffee. After all, they want us to be able to showcase Caravan coffee at its best 🙂

We spent the morning tinkering around with their beautiful La Marzocco Linea, the exact machine that is due to be installed at Afternoon Tease in just a few days!…

La Marzocco

My 1st attempt

Ivana's beauty

The team at Caravan have been amazingly supportive and I’m proud to be representing them in Cambridge!

However, it would be a travesty to overlook our very own local coffee roastery, Hot Numbers

Hot Numbers

I love Hot Numbers and think it’s played a very important part in the development of Cambridge’s coffee/cafe culture. Simon has paved the way and shown the people of Cambridge that they don’t have to drink bad ‘chain’ coffee. My cakes have been gracing the Hot Numbers counter for a year and a half and will continue to do so even when Afternoon Tease is open. The added bonus will be that you will be able to get Hot Numbers coffee in my cafe aswell! Simon and Steve have developed a delicious decaf, so often overlooked by cafes who, when you order a decaf, get the bag out of the cupboard that’s been ground and open for months…not in my gaff! You can expect Hot Numbers decaf beans, roasted to perfection, ground to order and made into a coffee that you’d be hard pushed to differentiate from the caffeinated version.

We will also be showcasing one of their current single origin coffees to be enjoyed as a filter or aeropress. We’ll be changing the variety regularly depending on what the Hot Numbers honcho’s come up with next!

Now, all of you tea drinkers, fear not! You haven’t been forgotten. I met the lovely ladies behind local tea company, Kandula, when we worked together on a afternoon tea/teas matching event for EAT Cambridge back in March.

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Kandula

Firstly I like them because they are independent and local, but I can also vouch for the fact that their teas are exquisite! They’ve developed a range of classic orange Pekoe Ceylon teas & white & green Ceylon teas, sourced from ethical tea plantations in Sri Lanka, not forgetting their delicious natural infusions.

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Its taken me a while to decide the varieties that I would like to stock and I can guarantee that there will be a great selection for you to choose from, including their signature ‘Pink Ceylon’ (pictured above), a delicately smokey green tea blended with hibiscus.

That’s all for now…at the time of editing this blog post, it is very early Sunday morning and I am about to embark on another full day of floor painting at the cafe! A blog post full of exciting progress photos to follow very shortly!

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