Department of Coffee and Social Affairs

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For Goodness Cakes

Department of Coffee and Social Affairs

Chain coffee shops aren’t so bad after all


Instagram appeal: 7/10
Low-hanging (edgy) lamps provide decent lighting.
Edginess: 7/10
Department of Coffee oozes hipster vibes, particularly with its street-arty bar.
Good For:
Slightly different cakes.
Most Likely to Meet:
A mixture of Oxford Street shoppers and slightly edgy twenty-somethings.
Affordability: 5/10
Slightly over-priced so maybe only affordable every so often (thanks mum).


After weeks of indulging in endless coffees, cakes and culinary delights with course pals/home friends/fellow Exeter grads all in the name of student journalism, it’s time for the most anticipated blog post of the year: #forgoodnesscakes featuring the one and only Penny Schnabel, my lovely mother. If you’ve blocked me from your newsfeed, unfollowed me on Instagram or simply vowed never to read my coffee-related words of advice, I’d think again – this definitely isn’t one to miss.

Since moving to the Big Smoke in January, I promised my mum a sought-after slot in my busy #forgoodnesscakes schedule and finally, after three long months, her moment in the limelight arrived. After a cultured trip to the V&A and a not-so-cultured trip to Topshop on Oxford Street, we headed for Carnaby Street’s Department of Coffee and Social Affairs for some much-needed refreshment. Despite my shamefully pretentious vow to only ever review independent coffee houses, it turns out Department of Coffee is actually a chain, but oh well – you win some you lose some.

While my mum adventurously opted for a pot of tea, I was offered two different coffee beans for my americano – one tasting slightly fruitier and the other more of salted caramel and chocolate. Surprise surprise, it didn’t take me long to decide on the latter. Although the coffee was good but nothing to write home about, Department of Coffee have a pretty great selection of cakes.

After a good 10 minutes of deliberation (the guy at the till wasn’t happy), we went for the orange and almond cake (with chocolate icing) and the ginger cake – despite the ginger cake being fairly delish (we were warned it was quite spicy – it was not), both Pez and I decided that the orange and almond was probably the overall winner (who can say no to chocolate icing?).

Despite its proximity to Oxford Street and tourist heaven, Department of Coffee is clearly going for an edgier vibe. Its bar-esque granite tables, high metal stools and street-art décor make for a hipster haven in the heart of Soho and it certainly seems to do the trick – Department of Coffee appears to be buzzing with satisfied (edgy) customers throughout the day. Although slightly too wavey for a mother-daughter trip (the music was ‘a trifle loud’ for my mum’s liking), this little place is worth a quick visit even just for the orange and almond cake.

Carnaby Street, W1F 7DA

Department of Coffee and Social Affairs Reviewed by on March 26, 2015 .

Chain coffee shops aren’t so bad after all

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