THE CITY // Cafe Cognito

11.5.15

Aberdeen streets lightbox at Cafe Cognito

I don't know if you've ever tried to go out for coffee of an evening in Aberdeen, but it's a harder feat than you might imagine it to be. Most of the tearooms and coffee shops I like to frequent close around 4:30pm, handing over the caffeinated reigns to bigger, better known chains who I'm less eager to give my money to. Sure, I can easily down a drink or two under the watchful eye of that famous green siren, but sometimes you'd rather spend your evening in a venue with a bit more character and charm!

Open until 9pm every night of the week, Cafe Cognito is a bit of a rarity among Aberdeen's coffee scene. It was these late openings that first attracted me there some seven months or so ago, but there are a whole host of other reasons why it's become a favourite haunt ever since. 
Cards at Cafe Cognito St Swithin Street Aberdeen

Situated in the city's West End, not too far from the Queen's Cross roundabout, the cafe occupies a snug  space among the grand granite properties of St. Swithin Street - a location apparently known as the 'Little Chelsea of Aberdeen'. It's certainly an attractive part of town with the added benefit of being close to the city centre, but just far enough away to escape the noise and rush. 

The cafe itself is calming and full of charm. It's a small space and tables, benches, cushions and stools are all packed in closely together, but I've always found it homely and cosy rather than cramped, and the newly added patio seating has created a bit more room for the summer months. There's a splash of Chelsea about the decoration - it's country chic in tasteful, expensive-looking form (although the milk jugs are definitely Asda because I have the same ones!) and I know from a previous conversation with the owner that it's been given a great deal of consideration and love. I've always had a fondness for the wooden 'LOVE' letters near the counter front, but the more recently added Aberdeen light-box might just beat them in the 'favourite pieces' ranks.  And then there's the whole wooden canoe that hangs above the door because, I mean, why not?!


Matthew algie coffee at Cafe Cognito St Swithin Street Aberdeen

Of course, even more important than all the pretty things are the tasty ones! Thankfully, they have those in abundance as well.

Firstly, there's the drinks. The coffee here - sourced from Glasgow-based coffee roasters Matthew Algie - is available in all the usual (and some less familiar) espresso-based forms, always accompanied by a bite-size Scottish treat - likewise, the hot chocolates, chai lattes and teas. If hot drinks are not your thing, there are a range of bottled soft drinks available too and perhaps even more tempting, the ice-cream floats and milkshakes have both received a definitive stamp of approval from my dad.

Cakes at Cafe Cognito St Swithin Street Aberdeen
If your wee bite of tablet, fudge or macaroon isn't quite enough to compliment your drink (who am I kidding? As if one bite is ever enough!) then there are shelves piled high with plenty of baked goods. Croissants, muffins, sugared pretzels, carrot cake, giant pancakes, a selection of scones, chocolate brownies, lemon drizzle.. The list goes on! It's just struck me that I might never have eaten a cake here (time to rectify that soon!), but they always look so very good.

There are a range of morning and afternoon munchies available too in the form of bacon and sausage muffins, porridge, sandwiches, soups, paninis and salad boxes. Vegetarians are always catered for among the day's selection and I would definitely recommend the falafel panini whenever it's on the menu.


As if all of that wasn't enough, Cafe Cognito has one more tasty treat up its sleeve. And it just so happens to be the one thing that could keep me away from a cake selection that pretty..

Icecream at Cafe Cognito St Swithin Street Aberdeen

Ice-cream!

Like a little rainbow of frozen goodness, more than a dozen colours, flavours and forms line the cabinet, with choices ranging from the traditional strawberry to the less-obvious bubblegum; from the rich creaminess of the salted caramel, to the lighter refreshment of a mojito sorbet. Particular favourites so far have been the 'White on White' ice-cream and a sorbet of mango, lime and chilli. Yum!

At £3.50 for two generous scoops in a cone or tub, the prices here are more than reasonable and inclusive of any toppings you might want. When they offer me toppings I just say, "Yes please!" and let them pile all of the treats on top.

The ice-cream floats and milkshakes I mentioned previously are made with a scoop of your own choosing and they do a range of sundaes and banana splits which look pretty damn incredible.

Icecream at Cafe Cognito St Swithin Street Aberdeen

In addition to all of this, there are also a couple of walls worth of greetings cards for sale (cute, but perhaps not entirely necessary) and in the back corner of the premises - separated by a glass door - is a nail salon, of all things. I'm a little confused about how exactly this fits in - whether it's part of the same business or an entirely different thing - and I would much rather see the space given over to more cafe seating, but this is really the only criticism I can make!


Other than that, Cafe Cognito is one of my favourite places - perfect both for cosying up with a coffee on a typically dreich day, or soaking up the rarer sunshine in the company of an ice-cream - and it's a true hidden gem in Aberdeen.


Go and pay them a visit at:
Cafe Cognito
39 St Swithin Street, Aberdeen

(And remember... What happens in Cognito stays incognito!)

3 comments:

  1. Wow who knew? That sounds and looks really great. Far preferable to a certain other establishment on that street that makes me think of slugs. Thanks for the review! ("Little Chelsea"!)

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    Replies
    1. Ha, I've heard very mixed reviews about that particular place so have never yet visited, but you're right - it does conjure up some "delightful" images!

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