An independent coffee house on Queens Road, Brighton
It’s been a while since I ventured out to review a coffee shop. Generally, now that I work out of town I tend to spend free time at my favourites – when time is short, it just ain’t worth risking bad coffee.
But a little while ago, the owner of Mojo got in touch and invited me for lunch at their Queens Road coffee shop*. Having stopped by the Lewes Road shop back when I was a student, I was interested to see if much had changed about them.
Located halfway up the bustling Queens Road, I always thought of Mojo as probably the most eye-catching place in that immediate area. The corrugated metal sign with its topsy turvy logo creates the impression of a typical, quirky “Brighton” coffee shop.
Stepping inside, the front of the shop reflects this with an exposed brick chimney, hanging lights in jars and posters and canvases adorning the walls. Combined with mismatched wooden chairs and greenery on the tables, it had a warm feeling instead of the cool industrial approach many others go for. Instantly, I felt this place had more character than its Lewes Road sister, which felt promising.
Food and drink
Unfortunately, this feeling wasn’t to last long. The front area was full when I arrived so, after introducing myself to the manager, I filtered down to the very back of the shop. Here, I felt a little like I was sitting in someone’s dining room, and the charm was gone. Accepting that lighting can be difficult in these narrow Brighton buildings, I decided to peruse the menu.
The menu didn’t seem to have changed much since I’d last visited over a year ago, with a variety of paninis, toasted sandwiches and filled croissants on offer. The salad menu caught my eye however, and I decided to try the goats cheese salad with walnuts, roasted tomatoes, apple and honey dressing. Brandon chose a chorizo, chicken, mozzarella and tomato panini with a Mojo Madness smoothie – strawberry, banana, apple and pear. Being quite a humid day, I decided to try a caramel mocha frappe instead of my usual flat white (I know, right?).
First impressions on arrival? The goats cheese salad looked tasty and inviting… the panini did not. It looked like the same type of panini you’d find in a Greggs hot hold, and I feel like they’ve missed an opportunity here to partner with a great, local bread supplier.
On flavour, Brandon said he found the whole thing quite tasteless and was rather disappointed – particularly as one of his favourite lunches is Flour Pot’s chicken, chorizo and cheese ciabatta. Try saying that ten times faster.
The salad was lovely to begin with, with rich, warm goats cheese and a sweet, tangy dressing. After I’d unearthed some more however, the bottom was swimming in dressing and it had become a little overwhelming for me. I left some of this, defeated.
As for the drinks, there isn’t too much to say. I didn’t detect the caramel within the caramel mocha frappe, and neither seemed to be as cold as you would expect. I also really didn’t like the addition of the coloured plastic straws.
Mojo isn’t somewhere I will go back to, as I feel there are so many independents around Brighton with such a strong offering. With the strange contrast in atmosphere, music that didn’t seem to fit the environment and a pretty average menu, it feels a little bit like Mojo are trying to be something that they’re not.
It’s funny really, as if we had sat at the front of the shop we may have had a more positive experience – which just goes to show the importance of aesthetics for some of us looking for that third place spot.
Have you ever visited one of the Mojo coffee shops? I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you haven’t, have a look at their Instagram and see what you make of them.
*I was invited to review Mojo in exchange for a complimentary lunch. But, as I’m sure you’ve gathered from the above, you can be assured that it is 100% my own, honest opinion.