Jericho Coffee Traders will probably be a familiar name to anyone who’s lived in Oxford in the last decade, through supplying many local independents with their coffee, popping up at events, and serving up treats at their own locations across the city. Their latest cafe at the Castle opened late 2022 and offers a cosy spot to enjoy sweet treats and savoury options alongside their coffee. Lizzie from the JCT team recently invited me over for lunch to check out what they had on offer.
I arrived on a typically grey and slightly wet day, looking forward to something warming, so the soup sounded like a great option. The soup of the day (£4.50) was curried sweet potato. Anyone who has ordered a sweet potato soup when dining out has probably experienced a fairly uninspiring combination of coconut milk stirred through with a mild shop-bought Thai spice blend, and will have a very specific flavour of soup in mind when they see this on the menu. However, I’m happy to report that was not the case at all when ordering soup from Jericho Coffee Traders. The warming curried spices were the ideal complement to the sweetness of the potato, blended together to a perfectly smooth bowl of comforting goodness. The crispy onions and mixed seeds sprinkled across the top added a decent crunch, making for a satisfying lunch.
The thing I was most excited to try though was the vegan toastie (£5.50). The mushroom melt promised a bechamel sauce with garlic mushrooms, probably my dream sandwich filling. When the buttery, crisp bread was set down in front of me I couldn’t wait to tuck in. I liked that they didn’t use a gummy store-bought vegan cheese and again went down a more natural, homemade route, with delicious results. This is definitely one for mushroom lovers as the porcini mushrooms used had a powerful flavour, with a hint of garlic and the creamy sauce being a great combination. The mushrooms retained their bite with an almost meaty texture, preventing the toastie from ending up as a soggy mess. At last, a decent vegan toastie being offered just a short walk away from my office and I’m looking forward to going back.
When ordered together, £10 for a small bowl of soup and a sandwich makes this very much a special treat. Given the love and care that goes into preparing the food, and the Oxford city centre location, I completely understand why the prices are at this point – I just acknowledge that it probably wouldn’t be affordable for many people to pop in for lunch on the regular. As for myself though, if I’m only going into the office once a week, I’d much rather spend my cash here than any of the nearby chains.
I couldn’t resist ordering a slice of ginger and cardamom cake (£3.50) to take away for later as I was definitely too full from the savoury course to manage it there and then. I couldn’t think of a better accompaniment to a cup of tea in the afternoon and really enjoyed the mildly warming aromatic spices and the sweet glaze on top. I was lucky to get one of the last slices and was told that Friday is ‘new cake day’, so it’s worth popping down on that day to see the best of what they have to offer.
Jericho Coffee Traders at the Castle is slightly tucked away from the main road but don’t miss out on this independent gem right in the city centre. With friendly and welcoming vibes, and naturally great coffee, this is a lovely little spot to take a lunch break or meet for a cuppa with friends.
This meal was complimentary; review reflects my honest thoughts on the food and experience.