Stag Coffee, Cardiff | Review

IMAGE: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-AtV6CW8eV1I/U2e9h2HNi9I/AAAAAAAAA38/XwWVYSRlO5s/s1600/Front.jpg
IMAGE: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-AtV6CW8eV1I/U2e9h2HNi9I/AAAAAAAAA38/XwWVYSRlO5s/s1600/Front.jpg

A few months ago, I was so irked by a purchase of mine (the infamous Superdry Parka) that I was moved to write an angst-ridden piece about it on here. So infuriated was I with this purchase, I spewed forth my vitriol onto this blog, despite the fact that it primarily has a makeup/skincare focus. It brought me some relief, so here I go again, except this time, my spleen is vented on a coffee house…

Stag Coffee, based in Cathays, Cardiff.

Stag Coffee is one of those hip, quirky, “shabby student chic” type places that attracts exactly the sort you’d imagine: privileged university students with pastel coloured hair and tattered “vintage” clothes, who “upcycle” and complain about politics and the price of petrol, before going to do their weekly shop at Sainsbury’s in their 2010 Ford Fiesta (which mummy and daddy bought for them as a reward for doing so well and getting into u-naaaaay to study Sociology with Advanced Beekeeping) to stock up on kale and quinoa (pronounced Kwin-oh-ah, obvs).

It’s the kind of establishment that offers mismatched cutlery and crockery; big, squishy armchairs which look more comfortable than they actually are; and is so dark you can barely see your mates (but it doesn’t really matter because you can still see the screen of your iPhone to upload that picture of your vegan all-day-breakfast onto Instagram).

Maybe I’m just bitter because I’m no longer a student who can potter down to the local coffee shop for a chai latte and slice of spiced aubergine and WD-40 cake (or whatever the flavour of the month is) at 3:30 in the afternoon before writing 452 words on my General Businessness and Whathaveyou essay, and proceed to down half a litre of Rachmaninoff vodka (Lidl’s finest) before dressing up like Tinky Winky and hitting the SU with the rest of the Teletubbies (or whatever tonight’s theme is). 

Or, maybe I’m just so appalled at the cataclysmically shit experience I had at Stag Coffee that everything in, and orbiting around, this glorified Starbucks has me clenching each orifice of my body like it’s sucking on a not-quite-ripe grapefruit and being salted like an unsuspecting slug.

Am I being dramatic? Probably. Am I wrong in pointing out that, when visiting such a venue – i.e., one that serves food and drink which you eat while sitting in – service should be as important as the quality of said food and drink? No. 

Sunday afternoon and I have a hankering for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. This is not the kind of appetite which can be whetted by a stealth trip to the local Co-op for a day-old cupcake and a hastily made cup of Yorkshire Tea. No, no – this is the kind of hunger which can only be quashed by a visit to a quaint caff for a slice of something delightful served with a pot of liquid gold. 

So I set off with Monsieur Raptor, hoping to visit one of Cardiff’s most popular tea shops, only to discover that it’s closed. Never mind, stiff upper lip and all that, let’s find somewhere else. After a relatively fruitless search through the streets of Cardiff and spying many a full Cafe Nero or Coffee #1, we almost give up trying to find a nice, independent cafe. Then we spotted Stag Coffee. Yes, it looked a little “studenty”, but it seemed better than going home. 

It doesn’t look too busy, and there’s plenty of seats outside, but it’s a cold January day, so we venture inside, hoping to find an empty table for 2. We find a large table surrounded by about 4 or 5 big squishy chairs with 2 girls drinking coffee. Okay, fair enough, they got here first. There’s also a large group of about 6 people sat around some tables and chairs. I can’t help but think a switch of seats would clear more space for other customers, but whatever; you can’t force people to move. We wait behind another couple in front of us to order, then they take up the only free table left. This takes about 10 minutes.

When we reach the front of the queue, we’re told to go and wait at a table outside, and that someone will be out to take our order. Okay…why exactly can’t our order be taken now and then brought out when ready? Never mind, maybe they just want to know where we’re sitting and will follow us outside. Nope. We’re left waiting in the cold for a further 15 minutes before a waiter comes out to take our order. How are we supposed to know what we want without a menu? “I’ll have a pot of tea and whatever that sticky looking cake on the counter is, please” I say, unamused.

Another 20 minutes passes and our food arrives. The confused looking server trundles around, cakes in hand trying to figure out who ordered them. Have these people never heard of table numbers? I have to wave him over. But wait, where’s our tea? Another 10 minute wait, cake finished, and the pot of tea arrives with no sugar, and no offer of any sugar. Again, the waiter had to trundle around looking befuddled, asking every table if they ordered a pot of tea before finally bringing it to us.

30 minutes. For a cup of tea and 2 slices of cake. That’s not including the time it took us to be seated and have our order taken. I’m astounded. The place wasn’t even that busy.

Even worse was having to go back to the counter to queue up to pay, only to be met with an exasperated “yeah?” from the boy at the counter, who I had to tell “I’d like to pay please”. “Oh, right….This Girl will deal with you” is his response, pawing me off to another clueless member of staff. I then had to awkwardly explain which table I was at (gesticulating wildly at the table outside, slightly out of view) and what I ordered. Then I was further embarrassed when I almost didn’t have enough money, as I wasn’t aware of how much the cakes cost due to the lack of relevant information displayed at the counter – over £9 for two teas and 2 slices of cake with abysmal service and an outside seat in January is borderline taking the piss.

The staff are unfriendly, not bothered about helping customers, and don’t seem to know what they are doing. The chocolate cake was dry. Food – even simple food which does’t even need heating – takes way too long to arrive. 30 minutes to throw a teabag in a pot and fill it with hot water is unacceptable. There is a clear lack of understanding of customer service at Stag Coffee, and frankly, the place is a mess. I am utterly disappointed that a place with so many stag motifs didn’t live up to my expectations (I love deer). 

On the plus side, the carrot cake was delicious. 1/10. 

What to Look for in a Moisturiser

As your body’s largest organ, skin can be a complicated thing. That’s why it’s important to understand it and its needs – a little like painting the walls of your house. Use the wrong formula for, say, the bathroom or the outside, and the walls could end up cracking and peeling away…not a nice image when you apply that thought to your skin!

So let’s discuss the basics of moisturisers and moisturising your skin!

There are 3 different classes of moisturisers:

Occlusives work by forming a hydrophobic (water-repelling) layer on the surface of the skin, trapping in moisture, so they’re best used on skin that already has some moisture in it (i.e skin that’s not dry and flaking).

Humectants draw water from the environment and put it into your skin, hydrating the skin’s upper layers. This can actually be counter-productive if the skin is already well-hydrated by drawing moisture away from the skin, so it should be followed by an occlusive to trap that moisture in.

Emollients smooth out the skin by filling in the gaps between skin cells. They soften the skin, making it more supple and less likely to become sore and cracked.

First things first, you need to identify your skin type. This will help you make an informed decision when it comes to choosing a suitable moisturiser that best meet your skin’s needs.

So what are the different skin types?

There are 5 skin types which are widely acknowledged in the skincare industry. These are: Normal, Dry, Oily, Combination and Sensitive. Each is unique and has its own characteristics, so it’s a good idea to tailor your skincare regime to your skin type.

Normal

Characterised by having no major issues. It produces just the right amount of oil needed to keep it balanced, supple and hydrated. Not too oily or dry, even tone, and no large pores. This might sound like it doesn’t need attention, but all skin needs something to keep it harmonised, so you still need to moisturise even if you have normal skin.

Best type of moisturiser: Emollient.

Dry

If your skin is dry, you’ve probably noticed how often it gets flaky, especially in the colder months. Your skin will probably feel tight and uncomfortable after cleansing. If you’ve never had the urge to buy powder foundations or if you find that makeup clings to patches on your face, chances are your skin is dry. This is because it’s not producing enough oil to keep it healthy and balanced. There are a variety of different moisturisers which are particularly helpful for drier skin types…but we’ll get to those later! It’s also worth noting that exfoliation will help tremendously with getting rid of those flakies – just be gentle by using a chemical exfoliant or a muslin cloth rather than a harsh scrubby type cleanser.

Best type of moisturiser: An occlusive, or better yet, a humectant followed by an occlusive.

Oily

This is the opposite of dry – meaning that your skin produces too much oil. While oil (or sebum) is necessary to help keep skin healthy, overproduction can cause skin to look shiny or greasy. You can identify oily skin if you touch your face and your finger feels like it’s coated, or if your skin feels comfortable (or even oily) shortly after cleansing. Problems like acne, enlarged pores, and blackheads are more common in this skin type.

Just because your skin is oily does’t mean you can skip the moisturiser! You can still get dry patches if you’re oily, so it’s important to keep the skin healthy. It’s just a case of finding a moisturiser that works well for you.

Best type of moisturiser: Probably a humectant, or an emollient. Try and choose something that is oil-free or has “mattifying” in the description.

Combination

This is like the lovechild of oily and dry. Unfortunately, you get the worst of both worlds – oily t-zone and dry cheeks? Yup, you probably have combination skin. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of moisturisers designed to meet your needs!

Best type of moisturiser: An emollient would work well for both dry and oily skins, so this would be a good choice.

Sensitive

If your skin is sensitive, chances are you’ll already know about it. Does your skin burn when apply certain products, or look red and sore after cleansing? Then it’s most likely sensitive. This could be due to a number of factors, mostly due to sensitivity or (or even allergies) to certain ingredients. Most common triggers for sensitive skins are alcohols, fragrances, and natural ingredients, like lanolin and essential oils.

Best type of moisturiser: Depends on the underlying skin concern (you can have oily/sensitive, or dry/sensitive). But you’ll want to look for something that’s fragrance and colour free, with any alcohols listed as far down the ingredient list as possible (this means it’s in a lower concentration, so will be less harsh on your skin). Try to avoid overly “natural” products as these often contain essential oils and plant extracts which can irritate sensitive skin – Remember, “natural” ingredients are not inherently better. Looks for a simple formula (that means a short ingredient list) with things like glycerin, hyaluronic acid and oat milk listed in the ingredients.

Other things to consider

  • It’s great to use a nice, basic moisturiser, but there are some ingredients which can be beneficial to the skin. These include antioxidants such as green tea extract, or anti-aging ingredients like retinoids and various “peptides”.
  • It’s also important to use an SPF, which is great for preventing skin from premature ageing.
  • Another thing to remember is to exfoliate regularly and gently – take a look at my post on chemical exfoliants for more information on this.
  • Always patch-test new products (a small amount applied to your most sensitive or spot-prone area) for a few days before applying all over your face.

Product Recommendations

Occlusives: Straight up Vaseline, Aquaphor, or any moisturiser with mineral oil or petroleum listed at the top

Humectants: CeraVe, Eucerin Dry Skin Relief

Emollients: Avene Emollient Cream, E45, Clinique Dramatically Different Gel

References: Skincare Addiction, and again