The UK has a new home for automotive enthusiasts. Brainchild of Phil McGovern, Caffeine & Machine is not an easy place to describe. It’s a coffee house. It’s an art gallery. It’s a shop. It’s a restaurant. It’s a bar. It’s a B&B. It’s a meeting place. It’s everything and nothing.
Having attended various shows and events over the years, something I previously hadn’t noticed has become more prevalent recently, a severe divide. This isn’t to say that shows are not embracing the culture or that the cars are not varied enough, more that enthusiasts are not embracing other enthusiasts.
Though we all share a common interest and are part of one culture (to the outsider, anyway) there are numerous sub-cultures within automotive enthusiasts. Stancers, drifters, racers, cruisers, bikers… the list is endless. At the vast majority of events and even online, it is clear there are divisions within the culture. The hot-hatch group don’t associate with the stancers and their bagged cars, the stancers won’t associate with the purist supercar owners. Though these are generalisations they’re not necessarily untrue.
There’s nothing wrong with people having different opinions or tastes – things would be pretty boring otherwise and the culture as we know it wouldn’t exist. There is however something wrong with people having a dislike for an individual or group of people based purely on their taste.
This is not another ‘rant about the car scene’ believe me - I hate that shit. There seems to be a perception that it’s only recently people have made the decision to dislike or favour people due to popularity, style or the car they drive. This isn’t new, it’s not just in the ‘car scene’ either – it’s human nature and it’s not going anywhere. It has just become more obvious because of social media, it’s in your face now, you can read the comments that would usually be discussed behind closed doors.
What Caffeine & Machine has done very successfully is create a place for all automotive enthusiasts from every sub-culture. This is not a place to judge, boast, put down others or big yourself up. This is a neutral ground, away from social media and the snide remarks overheard at shows – an oasis.
I had been watching the progress of Caffeine & Machine for a while, anticipating the day they might announce an official opening. When the day came and it was finally announced, Saturday 27th October was to be the official opening day of C&M – I couldn’t wait. The only problem, I didn’t have a cool car and it was 350 miles away. Not one to back down to a lengthy road trip I thought why not, I’ll take my standard Audi A1 and head down. Worth. Every. Mile.
Though I arrived a bit late in the day and it was pissing it down (it was sunny when I left Edinburgh!) there was still plenty to keep anyone interested. As one interesting machine was warming up to leave another was rumbling down the road to arrive, the place felt alive.
After the long drive a coffee was higher on my list than taking photos, we joined the queue at C&M’s epic custom-made bar for a fresh coffee made on their equally epic coffee machine – it did not disappoint. Even if you have no interest in motoring, Caffeine & Machine is definitely worth a visit for their coffee and food alone.
It was hard to take photos and not only because of the weather but because of the chat. You know when you’re at a party and none of your car friends are there to talk to about cars? Well Caffeine and Machine is the opposite of that. Everyone is talking about cars, if it’s not cars it’s bikes, if it’s not bikes it’s the photographs of machines or the memorabilia on the walls. I’m pretty well known for not shutting up, so this was like heaven for me. Which brings me back to what I was talking about before, everyone was talking. The drifters were talking to the super car owners, the bikers were talking to the stancers, no judging or sneering, just people sharing one obsession in their own ways.
Luckily my hotel was only a couple miles down the road, though Phil did say he’d have put me up in one of C&M’s rooms if they had been ready, seeing as I’d travelled so far – maybe next time! This meant only one thing, come back again on Sunday!
The weather on Sunday had made some improvement and the winter sun decided to show its self. So glad I returned, again more different machinery had shown up and continued to cycle just as it had on Saturday. Caffeine & Machine is conveniently located close to some pretty well known driving roads and so attracts people who are only passing by.
This 1980 Porsche actually drove right by C&M with a group of 4 or 5 other different Porsches, only to reverse back up the road to come in and see what was going on.
I’ve been following C&M since and even though winter has well and truly arrived, there seems to be no end to the weird and wonderful machines stopping by. I have a feeling this is the beginning of something really special for the culture and can’t wait to see where it goes. I’ve never wanted to move south but if ever I needed a reason to, this would be it. I can't wait to go back in summer to see it on a 'normal day' - if such a thing exists.
Photos: Michael Scott
Words: Michael Scott
Location: Caffeine & Machine, Stratford-upon-Avon