Everyone will tell you that making a good first impression with a prospective client is essential. Whether you’re placing the primary pitch for a business plan, looking to meet a potential employee or business partner, or simply looking for feedback on a script you’ve written, considering your meeting place is important. Is there enough table space? Is there that all important free wifi? Power sockets? Comfortable chairs? Good coffee and tea? And how does it reflect on the subject of the meeting itself? Are you looking for a quiet place to chat or a bustling creative hub with the atmosphere you can absorb and be part of?
In this short list I will briefly be breaking down my five favourite places for meetings in the city centre. Almost all these options are within five minutes walk from Cardiff Central and Queens Street train stations, so they are especially useful if you are meeting people travelling from out of town.
From creative discussions and writing sessions, to marketing meetings and proposal proofings, I prefer to do all my work and have all my meetings in the casual but focused surroundings of a coffee shop. The public setting inspires a good flow of conversation and gives less of a sense of pressure to the meeting, while the backdrop of people tapping away at laptops keeps the mind gently focused on the task at hand. Your venue choice for a meeting can strongly reflect the kind of relationship you are hoping to establish with a client. If you are looking to develop creative ideas together, maybe taking them to a large chain place isn’t the best idea. On the other hand, if you are hoping for a focused and professional chat, you don’t want a room full of distractions.
So let’s take a little look at what Cardiff has to offer.
Little Man Coffee
(wifi, bathrooms, food, drinks, and private hire)
Situated on Bridge Street, opposite the Admiral building, is Little Man Coffee. While a lot of coffee shops can be quite dimly lit and leave you with no light source but trendy low-hanging edison bulbs, Little Man’s two outer walls are almost entirely window. This abundance of natural light makes the interior brilliantly fresh and welcoming (and a superb spot for people watching, if you’re of a nosey disposition like me). The seating features four large tables situated along the back wall, perfect for meetings that include laptops, notebooks and other clutter. There is also an abundance of power sockets and plenty of seating on smaller, one-on-one tables. The
downstairs features two rooms with larger tables, allowing groups to work in relative privacy, away from the bustle of the counter.
Little Man is open from 7am weekday mornings so if you need to get a pre-work meeting out of the way it is perfect. The coffee and tea served is of excellent quality and not too expensive (which can sometimes be a pitfall of trendy coffee places). The staff are brilliantly friendly and always more than happy to help out.
For me, Little Man represents a perfect place for meetings that will be no longer than an hour. The airy, spacious room and constant foot traffic gives the place a pleasant bustle but can mean you may not want to settle for too long. Though if you are able to snag one of the large tables at the back, it is perfect for long writing sessions and group meetings.
Score: 4 Mashed Avocado on Toasts out of 5
(wifi, bathrooms, food, drinks, street seating)
At the top end of Queen Street (where it is intersected by Churchill Way) sits 200 Degrees. A beautiful, dimly lit, warm coffee shop and barista school. Inside, it stretches back further than you’d expect, with a long counter brimming with cakes, sandwiches and other treats to tempt you as you try desperately to order a black coffee because it’s late February and you’re free two months at the Gym are about to end and you’ve only been twice.
The seating in 200 Degrees feels mostly focused towards one-on-one interaction. A long, comfortable sofa/bench runs the length of one of the walls, with single tables set up at intervals to create a line of miniature workspaces. The rest of the floor is dotted with different sizes of tables, and the very back features four small armchairs around a fake fire.
For me, 200 Degrees’ strength comes from its atmosphere. At all times at least 80% of the room is working on a laptop. With the rest of buzzing with friendly conversation. Within this quiet commotion you are able to cultivate a bubble between you and the person you are with. The pointed, two-person seating eliminates the always colourful distractions of the passers by of Cardiff. Even considering it being a popular destination for fair amount of people, I’ve never found myself without a table to work at.
The coffee is reasonably priced and brilliant quality. The staff are friendly, chatty and professional, and table service means not standing awkwardly in the middle of the room, trying not to spill your Swan latte all over the floor while you seek out a table. The location means you are five minutes walk from Queen Street station and if you are coming from Roath or Cathays way, you don’t have to plough your way through city center foot traffic to get where you need to be.
Score: 8 Swan Lattes out of 8
Small Bar Cardiff
(wifi, bathrooms, food, drink, table bookings available)
Small Bar is the only non-coffee-shop on this list, and with good reason. I find bars tend to not be a brilliant place for professional meetings, especially in the latter stages of a day when the revallers begin to descend. This being said, during the day, and most evenings, Small Bar retains a friendly atmosphere that can’t be beaten. This location is definitely favourable towards the less serious meeting. Better for catch ups, discussion on things to come, or writing sessions.
Small Bar’s thing is beer. So why am I recommending a craft beer bar over another coffee shop? Well for one thing: variation, I didn’t want everything on this list to be a coffee shop. And for second: a very wise and beardy man once said to me “I wouldn’t want to employ or go into business with anyone who I wouldn’t have a beer with”. This is your chance to experience the social experience of ‘having a beer’ without the backlash of getting absolutely battered.
Small Bar’s drinking experience is more akin to a wine tasting. You can purchase drinks in measurements as small as thirds of pints and the massive selection encourages more variation than most places. This setting is a brilliant tool for encouraging conversation and measuring your ability to interact with a person in a social setting.
The tables vary massively in size. Upstairs sits a huge sixteen seat table which is perfect for large group meetings. The large barrel tables dotted around on both floors are great for spreading out and settling in and there is an abundance of two seaters available too, for a shorter stint.
Score: 6 Beards and Lumberjack Shirts out of 6
Hard Lines Coffee
(Castle Emporium) (bathrooms, food, drink)
Tucked away down Womanby Street is one of Cardiff’s best kept secrets and probably one of my favourite places for grabbing a coffee: Hard Lines. Hard Lines is nestled in the Castle Emporium among the vintage clothing, book and skateboarding shops and it couldn’t be happier. It fits perfectly with the aesthetic of this independent and creative space.
If you are looking for a place to let your creative juices flow and to get ideas down, this is where you want to be. The surroundings and people who patronise this place inspire ideas, if that doesn’t work for you, just one walk around the shops and stalls is enough to get anyone’s brain kick-started. The casual seating is comfortable and practical, and gives you plenty of room.
Hard Lines feels like you’re being made a brew by a friend you’ve never met. The coffee is brilliant quality, with cheaper batch brews available if you’re on a budget (you can always pop in on a Tuesday, when all the coffees are £2) and some interesting variations are available
(don’t ask about Barb). A selection of vegan treats are on offer too, if you’re looking to cater to a particular kind of clientele.
Hard Lines is the ideal place for a casual meeting that involves more chatting and less laptops. It’s quiet, personable and makes you look super cultured and cool.
Score: 3 Vegan Flapjacks out of 3
(toilets, food, drinks)
Bigmoose Coffee is a brand new Coffee shop in the city centre and is shaping up to be a brilliant addition to the family. The story behind Bigmoose as a company, and the opening of the coffee shop is incredible, if you get a chance make sure you read up on what they are, and what they stand for.
The shop is small, tucked away down Frederick Street in the very centre of Queen Street. Sitting cheekily shoulder to shoulder with Starbucks. The lack of roads or busy footways next to the windows mean it is a secluded and quiet spot. The simple modern layout gives you plenty of places to sit and have a chat. Upstairs is an intimate spot with a wide screen TV available for presentations and more comfortable seating.
Bigmoose is open from 9am every morning and runs until 6pm, though there is talk of later events happening, so watch this space. The coffee is great and the pricing is more than reasonable. The staff are wonderfully friendly and if you’re lucky enough to run into the owners they’re the friendliest folks you’ll ever have the good fortune to meet.
For me Bigmoose is the perfect storm of great location, great coffee, and great atmosphere. It is well worth checking out, if you haven’t already.
Score: 5 wall plants out of 5
So that’s that. I hope you have found this list useful and if you have any other places in mind, please get in contact, I would love to hear.
We would like to say a massive thank you to James Sarson who put together this article. If you would like content written for your website or also have articles written for yourself then go ahead and email James at [email protected]