There can never be too many coffee shops in the world. Coffee is an elixir which should be celebrated for the magical potion that it is. Derby has the usual coffee chains which don’t costa lot (see what I did there?) but it’s the independent chains that I love more.


I was very excited to hear about Cool River Café opening in Sadler Bridge Studios, Bold Lane, Derby, because their Matlock shop is very pretty and full of gorgeous pastries (I popped in months ago but unfortunately didn’t have the time to eat).

patisserie selection

You enter through a teeny tiny quaint courtyard on Bold Lane and the first thing that hits you is the glass cabinet filled with enticing pastries. They have an in-house patissier (based in Matlock) who cooks up all their delicious treats and this is one of the draws of Cool River Café – home-made food on tap.

Cool River Cafe4

The actual space is quite basic. The tables and chairs are just a little too functional, hard and cool for my liking. When I go to a coffee shop, I like to feel welcomed. As a writer, I want to enjoy my coffee whilst writing either on a comfy chair or slouchy sofa. There is a certain hardness to the furnishings at Cool River Café which has an almost clinical feel to it, and one which makes me almost not want to visit.

Cool River Cafe croque monsieur

They have a compact menu serving breakfast, lunch and have a decent wine list too. I placed my order for food at the counter, was served by a lovely smiley waiter and promptly took a seat at my table. My latte was delicious; earthy, creamy, and the cup, a generous size. I also had a Croque Monsieur, which was one of the best toasted sandwiches I have ever eaten. And this is the hook that will keep customers coming back for more, because the food at this café is special. Chunky white bread filled with moreishly salty ham and tangy melted cheese was a treat for the eyes and taste-buds. The presentation was great, augmented by a side-salad drizzled with a striking white dressing.

Cool River Cafe choc boat

I was doing battle with myself, whether to order a dessert or not (my calorie counting brain screamed, “NO” whilst my cake-loving heart yelled, “YES!”). I didn’t have to succumb to either, because the kind waiter was handing out free Mini Chocolate Boats for the customers to try. I loved everything about it, from the short pastry to lovely gooey chocolate. Cool River Café has potential and the cakes are very yummy. I just wish I found it more comfortable to lounge in and that the highly scrumptious Croque Monsieur wasn’t a whopping £6.50.

Dining Total £8.70 (Croque Monsieur £6.50. Regular latte £2.20)

Star Rating 1-10 (1: “I’d rather eat my own shoe, I hated it that much” – 10: “I’d pillage for food here”.)

Food: 9

Value for money: 5

Ambience: 2

Rate or Slate? Rate (that Croque Monsieur clinched the RATE)

Address: Sadler Gate Studios, Bold Lane, Cathedral Quarter, Derby DE1 3NT Tel: 01332 742520