In June 2018, I had something to celebrate – and Mags and Jamie Blackshaw, owners Wakefield café Mocca Moocho invited me and my partner in as guests to help make the occasion even more memorable. I wrote up my experience with a review for TopicUK magazine – and you can read it here.
There’s something quintessentially British about the idea of ‘afternoon tea’. It conjures up images of delicate finger sandwiches, fancy cakes and scones with jam and cream, all served on fine chinaware in a lovely sunny setting on a summer’s day or cosily by the fireside in the deep of winter: lashings of hot tea, the chink of cup against saucer and the sound of sparkling conversation.
Historically, our notions of afternoon tea can be traced back to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford who is reputed to have started the trend back in 1840. Apparently, she felt a bit peckish one afternoon and asked her staff to bring her something light to eat with a pot of tea. This became a habit and she started inviting friends in to join her. (In those days, dinner at the finest houses was served around 8 pm, so they needed something in between lunch and dinner).
Before you could say ‘cream scone’, the habit had become a tradition – and a fashionable one at that. By the 1880s, the refined ladies and gentlemen of high society were dressing in their elegant clothes to share tea, sandwiches and cakes at formal afternoon teas served at around four o’clock each day.
Now, of course, most of us are too busy to take a formal afternoon tea every day so the words ‘afternoon tea’ have become synonymous with refinement and elegance and perhaps most of all they hint hint at something that’s a touch special. The best china, the tiered cake stands and the fanciest of cakes are brought together to create a moment of calm when friends and family can indulge a love of cake while catching up with each other on their latest news.
There’s an afternoon tea for every budget and, however mouth-watering the food, some of the prices charged by the poshest hotels can perhaps best be described as, well, eye-watering! But, ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy a quality afternoon tea! I’ve found somewhere where it’s possible to sample some delightful sandwiches, some delicious cakes and the fruitiest of scones, all served with tea or coffee, for under £10! Where, I hear you ask, is such incredible value available?
Well, right in the centre of Wakefield is the answer. Yes, at the long-established and well-known café Mocca Moocho, it’s possible to enjoy a lovely afternoon tea for just £9.95 per person. If you want to add a bit of fizz, and you can afford it at these prices, you can spoil yourself with a glass of sparkling Rosé wine for just £5 extra – and what a treat you will have!
My partner and I enjoyed such a treat one afternoon in early May when we called in to see proprietors Mags and Jamie Blackshaw who opened the business some ten years ago (they won a Wakefield Civic Society Design Award back in 2009 for their premises) and now employ 15 staff, a number that goes up to around 20 during the summer months to meet the extra demand.
Some readers may remember Mags and Jamie running August Day in the Ridings Centre and before that when they ran Colonel Mustard in Wood Street. Altogether, they’ve been part of the Wakefield catering scene for some 30 years but they first came together a couple of years before that while working for a large national retailer, something they’d been doing for many years. They discovered a shared a dream of running a business of their own. Mags took a catering management degree course to prepare and they found their niche in Wakefield in the coffee and café trade. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, their fully licensed café in Cross Square is a hive of activity with business people dropping in for a coffee and a chat with colleagues, shoppers resting their feet and their bags over a cuppa, and visitors to the city perhaps having a breather from sight-seeing. Whether you’re looking for breakfast or lunch, or just a coffee and a bun, there’s plenty of seating in the café – there’s a large upstairs space as well as the seating on the ground floor, and, of course, you can sit out front where you can people watch from under the awning. Whether you’re there to chat or to work, there’s free wi-fi available. Should you venture upstairs, look out for Jamie’s bookshelves from which he offers second-hand books for sale from his personal collection of hand-bound Folio Society editions.
The café is open from 8 am until 4.30 pm Mondays to Saturdays and from 9 am until 4 pm on Sundays. Group bookings are possible, both during opening hours and for special events outside these times – just get in touch to enquire.
So, what was out afternoon tea like? Well, it was, of course, truly scrumptious. We were there as guests of Mags and Jamie but as it was part of a personal celebration too, we just had to have that glass of Rosé to get things started. Yes, we had the tiered cake stands, which always add a touch of style, and, believe me, they came fully laden! In fact, we were defeated and ended up asking for the proverbial doggie bag to take some of the cakes home with us for later. All in all, it was a very enjoyable afternoon and I think the Mocca Moocho afternoon tea must be one of the best-value treats in Wakefield!
If you fancy experiencing a Mocca Moocho afternoon tea for yourself, please note that you will usually need to book at least 2 days in advance. You can do this by telephone or via the café’s Facebook page.
Mocca Moocho, 10 Cross Square, Wakefield, WF1 1PH.
Telephone: 01924 361755