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WESTMINSTER PEOPLE: Sonia Cassidy on Coffee, Cake and Kisses

The most difficult conversations start in the kitchen, says founder

28 July, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

Sonia Cassidy

Coffee, Cake and Kisses, a “relationship café” in the heart of Fitzrovia was sparked by one very simple idea, according to founder Sonia Cassidy.

“If you think about your own life, eight times out of 10, where do we have the really difficult conversations?” she asked. “In the the kitchen. It’s the idea of the kitchen being the heart of a home.”

Part café, part stylish kitchen, part events space, it is somewhere people can come and explore all aspects of their relationships and emotions – while enjoying a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a cake.

Postcards on the wall include messages from people talking about their favourite coffee, and their favourite kiss.

Sonia’s own relationships inspired her to create a space where people can talk more openly about these sorts of things – feelings, spirituality, sexuality, in daily life “we do not allow ourselves” to explore them too much, Sonia says.

“We put ourselves into boxes, that is not the best way for a human being to be, overall.”

“I have had some very challenging relationships in the past.

“That is where the kitchen table came in, for long night conversations. I had a desire to make a space where these things can be talked about and explored, in a relaxed way.”

Goings on at the café in Warren Street range from polyamorous coffee meetings to relationship risk assessment classes.

“It’s about learning how to tell good relationships from toxic ones,” Sonia says.

When their chef passed away recently, Coffee Cakes and Kisses held an event to celebrate his life.

“We wanted to make space for grief,” she adds.

The events cover everything from general wellbeing to sexuality, but food also plays a big part – there are baking workshops, cake-making, team-building, supper clubs…

“Quite often we have people come in to have business meetings with a bit of baking going on in the background.

“One CEO booked out the whole space. She wanted a bit of a different board meeting so she sat the board around the table and cooked them an evening meal.”

A series of greetings cards – or wisdom cards, as Sonia calls them – are on sale at the front of the shop. From thought- provoking quotes about relationships, to a nude elderly couple in a variety of poses, to more “sexy” and “naughty” cards.

“It is all about acknowledging our relationships whatever form they may have as a part of our life,” she says

“We treat our relationships as something extremely fulfilling but also challenging. We are not ashamed of them or afraid of them. Intimacy is a massive part of our

lives which is not acknowledged nearly enough in society. We wanted to bring all that together.”

Sonia, 42, co-founded the space in January 2015, following a successful crowdfunding campaign. She said this gave “instant feedback” that the concept would work. “I remember people saying you will never get £35,000 for a café. We said let’s see if it works or not, and it did.

“People loved it, 454 people helped to bring this place to life.”

Explaining why she picked Fitzrovia, she says: “It is a beautiful, historic area but it is also a very open-minded place.

“It has that mix of traditional and subversive, which is kind of what we wanted. We didn’t want to be somewhere which is too stiff-upper-lipped, but we also didn’t want somewhere that is too in- your-face and sexy. So this area was spot-on.

“My business reflects my personal journey,” she says. “I am in the process of discovering, working out and enjoying my own relationships and that is what I am sharing with the world. We do need to create what we want more of in life. Here, you get what it says on the tin. You get the coffee, the cake, and the kisses. We actually offer it to people. It started as a bit of a joke… with time it has actually become something of a thing, some people come through the door and say can I have a kiss and a hug before my coffee?

“Which goes to show how much spaces like that are needed and how much warmth is missing from every day life.

“You don’t go hugging baristas at Costa, but you do here.”

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