You can plan for success all you like, but sometimes it’s the curveballs that make all the difference. Be open to change, and you’ve got it licked. That seems to be the Caffe Cream motto.
“We originally planned to open a coffee shop” says Justin, the manager of New Brighton’s Caffe Cream ice-cream parlour as SevenStreets arrive, on a sunny New Brighton summer morning, for a spot of breakfast.
Ice cream for breakfast isn’t a concept that worries us, in fact we were quite excited by the prospect.
Open for just over six months, Caffe Cream serves up a huge array of traditional Italian gelato, all made on the premises by dedicated ice-cream chefs. With a catalogue of over 60 flavours, with 20-30 available at any one time, Caffe Cream is a seaside delight, and further proof that this troubled resort is, finally, turning the corner. It offers flavours packed full of chocolate, marshmallows and everything that makes children happy and nutritionists cry, alongside more sophisticated offerings like rhubarb and custard, and surprises such as he ambassador’s favourite, Ferrero Rocher.
But the biggest surprise of all was to find that Caffe Cream is a happy accident, and the corporate monstrosity of Starbucks is partly to thank.
Having signed up early for the new waterfront development in New Brighton, Justin’s plans for coffee shop took a major hit when the developers, six months before opening, enlisted Starbucks for a neighbouring unit. The concept of competing with the giant coffee chain didn’t appeal and Justin and his business partners made a sudden dash back to drawing board.
Their resulting conclusion was inspired. They hatched a plan to head out to Italy and learn how to make traditional gelato.
After a month of learning the secrets behind ice-cream (secrets he wouldn’t share with us, although he reveal that there are no eggs in Caffe Cream’s ice-cream, but the rest is a closely guarded secret) the plan for Caffe Cream was formulated: a recipe that combines equal parts top-end Italian equipment, locally sourced milk and authentic Italian ingredients all served up in a bright, traditional ice cream parlour.
The quality and originality of the ice-cream is second to none, fantastic classic flavours are complemented by intriguing inventions, such as bubble gum flavour that reminds you of running the corner shop with your pocket money, and the accidental jaffa cake variety that resulted from an attempt to make chocolate orange was delicious.
Favourites? It was too tight to call, although the Turkish delight came close. Everything was rich and flavourful, without too much sugar, a result achieved by ageing the base mixture by up to 24 hours.
We were even surprised to find a very decent low sugar and low fat diabetic ice-cream, not quite up there with its full fat cousin but perfectly fine for those who care more about calories than creaminess. Although why you’d be here in the first place might say something about how successful your diet regime is going to be.
We were lucky enough to get a peek inside Caffe Creme’s ice-cream lab, where trays upon trays of the stuff are produced day in and day out. And we even got to try our hand at making a tray of rocky road, spatularing (is that even a word?) big dollops of freshly churned loveliness into a metal tray. Quite a fun activity, but not one we’re naturally talented at, being much more skilled at the eating side of things.
What New Brighton has in Caffe Cream is a great ice-cream parlour, committed to high standards and producing a top quality authentic product. A few more places like this and, who knows, New Brighton could rise again.