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Home from home: the local café

Stepping outside of your front door does not necessarily mean you want to go somewhere different. Sometimes, a Londoner just wants to feel at home but in a different setting.

The local café and coffee shop culture in London provides a home away from home, where people can sip a hot drink, indulge in a delicious slice of cake and catch up with friends or watch the world pass around them.

In fact, every city across world, from India to Italy, has their own simple signature eatery, favoured by the local community.

Roma’s Cafe, on Elgin Avenue in Maida Vale, first opened its doors in 1993 and has not looked back since, except to marvel at its simple beginnings.

What was a small snack outlet is now a homely café, with friendly staff, fresh food and the best cappuccino in town, according to their regulars.

Moving with the times

They have also moved with the times and provide free Wi-Fi internet access. People can now enjoy their cups of coffee whilst exchanging information via the worldwide web as well as with the people around them.

Ilda, 23, from Transylvania, who has worked at the café for 3 years, says their small business does not fear the Starbucks that opened around the corner years after them.

“People are always shouting there and you have to pick up your order instead of being served. We have a much more personal touch,” she says.

The staff are used to seeing more locals walking through their doors than new customers. Vaida, 23, who has worked at Café Roma since the 2011 summer says she has made so many friends and now she knows everyone’s orders before they even speak.

“People feel at home here,” she says, adding that they even feel comfortable enough to leave their belongings lying around.

Although Londoners are infamous for being reserved and aloof, if you look closely, there are small signs in their ways of life that show they crave warmth, affection and a simple need to feel at home.

Words and images by Monica Sarkar

Visit Roma’s Café, 302 Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale, London W9 1JS (020 7289 0906)
Nearest tube station: Maida Vale (Bakerloo line)

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