And now for something quite different…

I have wondered about Tempo every time I walked through the Bon Accord shopping centre, always curious to check it out but – ironically – never having the time to do so.

Tempo in Aberdeen’s Bon Accord

But this one afternoon the perfect opportunity arose when I had to wait for my prescription to be finalised at Boots – a typical 15-20min wait which, at that point (having already done all my shopping), I didn’t know what to do with… and then I remembered about the mysterious coffee place downstairs.

The spot where Tempo currently is used to be occupied by a number of pop ups: an art gallery and a Mini showroom are the few that I remember; so when Tempo came on the go in November last year, I assumed it would disappear after a month or two – but, alas,  it’s still going, more than six months in.

I read the general instructions on the A-board outside a few times when passing by, but I still wasn’t sure how this would work; so I rocked up to the counter and the first question I was asked was “Have you been here before?”. I was glad to have everything explained without having to ask – even though it was all pretty straightforward.

Mocha at Tempo

Every minute in Tempo costs 10p – but there are no other charges; instead, there’s the free use of the seating, charging points, WiFi and, of course, the kitchen, featuring a coffee machine, a selection of cakes and biscuits, as well as cereal, toast and even hot soup available at lunchtime.

The idea behind Tempo is to enjoy some time off – either alone, or even better with a friend or family, over coffee or a board game, whatever you might feel like that day. But the benefits aren’t just a recharge and a catch-up on latest gossip; in fact, all the proceeds go to CLAN Cancer Support – so you never actually feel you overstayed.

Enjoying some time off at Tempo

I knew from the moment I “clocked in” at the register that this would not be my usual cafe review; there were no baristas to craft my drink, and my mocha was all ready at the touch of a button – but that didn’t put me off (in fact, for a machine coffee, it tasted quite nice!).

I appreciated a quiet place (it looked pretty funky, decorated by professional designers as I later found out) to enjoy a hot brew and a sponge slice – so much better than being stuck in the pharmacy or wandering about shop shelves with no intention to buy! In fact, I felt quite guilty leaving after 17 minutes, only due £1.70 – so I left all my other small change at the till as a “tip”.

Having experienced it first-hand, and seen how popular this place is, I would encourage anyone who’s looking to fill a half-hour in town to pay Tempo a visit – it’s all for a good cause, and you will come out feeling more than recharged for the rest of the day!

Tempo Facebook page

Categories: Aberdeen, Cafes, Hidden, UK | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Birdhouse Cafe

In all my trips to Ballater, Braemar and the likes, I’ve never actually managed to stop in Banchory – a small but charming town on the main road between Aberdeen and the Highlands. So this particular Sunday, as I was on the go anyway, and with a gap in the schedule (just after golf, and before the Formula 1 Grand Prix on TV) I decided to make it my coffee destination.

Purposefully to squeeze in a wee bit more exercise into the day, I parked at the Falls of Feugh at the bottom of Banchory, and walked up to the high street in a 15min stroll in the gorgeous Spring sun. I knew I was heading for the Birdhouse Cafe, as that was the only place that caught my eye on my car journeys through the town. But I didn’t know what to expect upon arrival, and seeing it was a lovely weekend day I realised I might not get a seat in the small venue.

Ceiling decoration at the Birdhouse Cafe

Ceiling decoration at the Birdhouse Cafe

It did turn out to be more compact then expected, but I was in luck: with all other seats taken or reserved, there was one table free next to the window. Although there were some scrumptious looking treats on the counter where I was placing my order, I decided to only go for the mocha, and once I paid I quickly went to safeguard my space.

That’s when I could appreciate the quirky but charming decor of the place – as well as the world outside the window, and the magazine selection to the left of my seat which made my (short) wait for the coffee more pleasant.

Mocha at the Birdhouse Cafe

Mocha at the Birdhouse Cafe

But when the mocha arrived, I was a bit concerned – it was huge (never a good sign in my mind!). I tasted it, and my suspicions were confirmed: under the thick froth, the concoction was rather milky and lacked the punchiness of either the cocoa or the caffeine. There was more sweetness closer to the bottom of the cup (were I struggled getting to due to the size of the drink), which suggested real chocolate being used, but stirring it did little to improve it. Somehow I got through the cup and was glad I hadn’t had anything to eat with it – I was stuffed!

Having said that, the staff were very friendly and the venue was great for a relaxing stopover, so I actually enjoyed my time at the Birdhouse and would definitely recommend it for first-timers!

Mocha: £2.50

Verdict justification: A very pleasant cafe, but the coffee needs a bit more character!

Birdhouse Cafe’s Facebook page

Categories: Cafes, Local | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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