On the corner of Portland and Park street in central Swansea, South Wales, stands the very last of what was once a chain of coffee shops. Ever since 1970, the Luporini family have run this popular local spot as an independent operation.
The Kardomah Cafes, which were popular from the early 1900s to the 1960s, were created by the Liverpool China and India Tea Company. The name stems from a brand of tea that the company first sold in 1887 and was later applied to the coffee shops.
By the 1960s the brand became defunct. Now the only Kardomah left is the Swansea branch, which opened originally in 1957, replacing the previous location which was destroyed in the Blitz of 1941.
The cafe has a particular cult appeal due to the associations with the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, who once described the original Kardomah as “My Home Sweet Homah.” Subsequently the cafe was used as a location in the Dylan Thomas biographical movie Set Fire To The Stars, starring Elijah Wood, as well as in a Christmas special episode of Dr. Who.
Stepping inside Kardomah Cafe, visitors will find that the charming original interior remains virtually untouched since 1957, including Formica tables with a design of coffee beans, Sputnik-style coat racks, mosaic-tiled columns and dark wood panelling. Some of the same staff from over 30 years ago still work there, all helping to foster the family culture enjoyed by the customers.
The menu boasts such classic British cafe items as full English breakfasts, roast dinners, cream teas and knickerbocker glories, as well as wonderful coffee. Where possible food is sourced locally, such as sausages from the Gower Butcher, fresh salmon from Coakley Greens, and fruit and vegetables from Swansea market.
Know Before You Go
Grab a bag of the cafe's specially roasted coffee beans to take home.