A day out at Caffeine & Machine showed me why it should be on every petrolhead's bucket list
Caffeine & Machine has quickly become a place of pilgrimage for all petrolheads in the UK, brinking on social media virality and sliding into the conscience of every active car guy who wants some food, a drink and some proper car chat.
Whoever painted that logo on the front of the house is a hero
I’d criminally never set foot on the premises before, only ever gawping at the pictures of god-level machinery that frequents the converted rural bed and breakfast’s grounds. I decided that enough was enough and gave Tom Howard a call to arrange a catch-up at this new Mecca of motoring.
One does not simply step out of an Aston Martin
I was nervous about arriving in my own little tatty pride and joy, my 2000 Ford Mondeo ST200 (yes, the V6 one). Having seen photos of 458s and GT3 RSs sitting on the grassy plinths that litter the site, I thought my tired piece of mediocre Britain would feel a bit out of place. I quickly realised that ‘C&M’ is an all-embracing sanctuary when it comes to cars, with Tom’s Aston DB11 looking just as at home sat outside the impressive white farm house as my Mondeo and a ratty dark green Volvo estate.
Two friends. And the sofa from Friends.
I treat Tom not only as my friend but also as a bit of a style coach. His effortless lifestyling (is that a thing?) means he seems to fit into even the coolest of environments, be it the marina of Saint Tropez or a quaint pub in the Cotswolds. That’s why I asked him for advice on what I should wear to break my C&M virginity, and he decided that the theme of the day would be all about driving shoes.
Tom went down the casual route – Piloti’s new Pistone Xs, driving shoes that are on the casual side of the motoring footwear spectrum.
“Going for the Pistone X was a simple choice really," he said. "They are supremely comfy and those thin soles really give me an undiluted feel of the Aston’s pedals. I can control all of its 600 horsepower with the slightest of ankle movements.”
I fancied something a bit more old-school, hence why I opted for the oh-so-leathery Piloti 1923 Retro boot that harks back to the glorious days of early 20th Century Le Mans racing.
Casual or retro... A tough call
As well as looking awesome, the wonderfully thin sole on my boots is perfect seeing as I’m trying to develop my heel-and-toe work, the sole allowing me to feel exactly how much throttle pedal blip I’d given the V6 engine on the country roads surrounding the destination.
It was time for food and the menu was proper American roadhouse style. Nachos, burgers, massively-filled sandwiches, and of course the highest quality coffee going. I went for the nachos, Tom has gotten to the stage in life when a salad is sadly the only option.
I've never seen someone so happy to be eating leaves
The food was ordered at the jazz-style bar with its metallic front, the venue’s logo embossed in its centre. And with a coffee machine that looks more like a steam engine than a Nespresso, the interior design was as engaging as I’ve seen anywhere, complemented by stunning pictures of timeless classic cars and beautifully simple F1 cars of old.
As bars go, this is up there with the coolest
Walking back outside, using the stunning camshaft front door handle, we emerged into the car park where some more cool machinery had pitched up.
Tom was fixated on this spanking new Bentley. I'm probably checking out the lacquer peeling off the bumper of my Mondeo
We have every different taste in cars. Tom is very much all about luxury motoring, meaning he has an affinity with brands such as Bentley, Aston Martin, BMW and Audi. I’m a bit more of a car nerd, loving machinery that has specific mechanical trinkets that get my engineering brain firing. So of course we had very different views on the car sitting on the highest plinth – a Subaru Impreza P1.
Now we're talking
The owner and creator of Caffeine & Machine, Phil McGovern, is a brave man (daily driving a Jaguar XJ220 kind of brave), but petrolheads have been massively thankful for his start-up creation since its opening last year.
Although Tom and I chose to have a car-based chill in this place on a quiet midweek afternoon, it was still bustling with supercar owners, bikers and even the odd EV driver. Come on a Saturday and the place is absolutely heaving, filling up with hundreds of people by mid-morning.
The Scooby's shoes are almost as cool as mine
Caffeine & Machine is a place that all car people should have on their ‘to-visit’ list, ‘a destination if you appreciate moving things’. Whether you need some new ammo for your Instagram profile or fancy having deep chats about the intricacies of a Peugeot 205 Roland Garros edition, this little automotive haven in the English countryside should tick all of your boxes. With a quality, handbuilt feel to everything inside and out, you won’t be leaving disappointed.
To check out the shoes Tom and I wore to Caffeine & Machine, click the link below: