Three exchange students wandering in the heart of Costessey – or shall I say, “Harte of Costessey”, name of the bus stop that should take us to the Cafe at Urban Jungle.
We were quite alarmed when the bus driver himself wasn’t sure if this stop was on his itinerary… However, after an anxiously long bus ride followed by a short trek, we finally managed to find the tropical greenhouse hosting our destination.
Urban Jungle is an exotic plant nursery growing and selling a great variety of houseplants that opened in 2001 in Costessey, a suburb of Norwich. In 2005, they opened within the nursery a gluten-free coffee shop, Cafe Jungle, which serves seasonal, local, and homemade food and drinks.
As soon as we set foot in the greenhouse, we knew that it was worth the journey. We were welcomed by luxuriant houseplants, different in colour, shape, and size, creating a jungle-esque ambience: small individually potted cacti, succulents, a lemon tree, a variety of philodendrons (yes, I googled that one), to name just a few.
The wave of warmth was also much appreciated after our 30 minutes walk in the rain.
Even though the place looks chaotic at first glance, a walk through the plant nursery reveals that the disposition of the plants separates one seating from another, giving you an intimate space to enjoy your coffee.
Besides traditional seating, you’ve also got sofas for comfortable afternoons with your favourite book, creating a cosy vibe.
Cafe Jungle’s ethos was another reason that attracted me: they use coffee beans supplied by the local Strangers Roastery, and their tea comes from Wilkinson’s, both located in the city centre, while their gluten-free multi-grain bread is provided from The Wheat Free Bakery in Scotland.
The greenhouse itself is built with recycled and upcycled (yet another word I learnt thanks to this article) materials.
When you order a cup of coffee or a cafetière, you can choose between four different kinds, plus a decaf option. At the counter, you will find a flavour profile describing each variety of coffee, which helps you to choose according to your taste.
The Cafe at Urban Jungle is an out of the ordinary place to have a good cup of coffee, its rainforest ambience being its highlight, ticking your Instagram aesthetics box.
More importantly is the cafe’s ethos: the cafe and their supplier’s enthusiasm about animal welfare and the environment.