Coffee on the Road

Do you have a coffee habit that sees you making full use of your car drinks holder? During COVID-19 lockdown, one of the things I have been missing most is a take-away latte for the road. Mobile car servicing means that I get called out at any time. Customers who are forced to search for ‘mobile mechanics Cardiff’ don’t have control over the time they breakdown. It can be at 6am just as they set off for work, or at midnight on the way home. Until the lockdown caused by COVID-19, I hadn’t realised how much I relied on caffeine boosts and our excellent coffee shops in and around Cardiff.

Do you know an espresso from a ristretto?

I’m straightforward with my coffee. I like it black (Americano) or in a 2-shot latte. We know what to expect with a cappuccino and we know what to expect with a latte, but it appears that new coffee drinks fill the blackboards of coffee shops every day. Are they making these up?

I can tell you about three drinks you should try if you like your coffee black; espresso, ristretto and lungo. Espresso is both the method of making coffee and the name of a single shot made with just 1oz of water. It’s the coffee equivalent of a tequila or a kamikaze – great for people on the go as it’s ready in thirty seconds. This is the coffee to wake me up when I’ve been called out to service a car at night.  A typical shot contains up to 40mg of caffeine per ounce, compared to just 10mg per ounce in filter coffee. Here’s how to spot a good espresso. Check the crema. It’s the top layer – the result of a chemical reaction when hot water through coffee hits the air and coffee oils are dispersed. As the primary visual indicator of a well-extracted shot of espresso, you should shop around for a new barista if you’re regularly being served an espresso with no crema.


If you thought espressos were strong, then think of a ristretto as the powerhouse of coffee shots. Like an espresso, it’s a single shot, but with less water forced through the same amount of coffee beans. The result is a more intense flavour and concentrated liquid. A pleasant side effect of the shorter extraction time is a sweeter, less bitter taste.


Lungo, also known as a ‘long shot’ is the opposite of a ristretto, with twice as much water pushed through, resulting in a long black coffee that’s very popular in Italy.

So now you know which coffee to try when you need a caffeine boost. Go for a classic shot of espresso, a stronger, sweeter ristretto, or a less concentrated lungo.

Fortunately, we are well-served by independent coffee shops in and around Cardiff. Love Peace & Cupcake on Harrowby Street has over 1,000 5-star reviews on Trip Advisor! I have some great reviews as a mobile mechanic, but I could only dream of that many! It appears from reading the reviews that Cardiff has a serious afternoon tea habit. This is the go-to place for baby showers and for treating your mum on her birthday. Alternatively, Nata & Co on Clifton Street is a must-visit place for traditional Portuguese custard tarts. Warm and fresh out of the oven, is one ever enough? Big Moose Coffee Company on Frederik Street boasts a wide choice of coffees and unusual pastries. With an artisan vibe close to some of Cardiff’s famous historical buildings, it’s a convenient stop when you are showing visitors around our lovely city. Uncommon Ground Coffee Roastery in Royal Arcade appeals to coffee-drinkers who favour a European vibe and smashed avocado on toast alongside their ristretto. With café tables outside, it’s a quiet place to recharge and refuel between shopping or sightseeing.

There are so many great coffee shops in Cardiff that I wish I could mention them all! I look forward to supporting them when they re-open after lockdown and we can once again indulge in our favourite beverage. Do you have a favourite independent coffee shop you can recommend?

As your mobile mechanic in Cardiff, I wish you happy driving and if you have to type ‘mobile car mechanics near me’ into your smart phone due to a breakdown, don’t be surprised if I arrive with a tray of delicious coffees to keep us both going while I get you back on the road.

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