Anyone living in Luton or nearby or even in Buckinghamshire and surrounding counties should pay a visit to this fantastic hidden gem.
Jake’s Cafe is located at Woodside Animal Farm near Luton in Markyate so if you have kids there are loads of activities to occupy them as well as rare breeds and free range eggs and other produce for sale. It’s just off the A5 and the animal farm is signposted clearly.
Jake’s cafe is an independent cafe run by Louise who was diagnosed with coeliac disease 14 years ago so she understands totally the importance of avoiding cross contamination and sourcing quality guaranteed gluten free products.
It’s situated on the right hand side as you drive into Woodside Animal Farm and there is plenty of parking and place to lock your bike if you’re feeling energetic. You can take advantage of the great British summer on comfortable outdoor seating as well as shelter inside.
The cafe sells fruity but completely natural slush puppy drinks and loads of kids snacks available as well as the adult options with gluten free chips (dedicated fryer), hot dogs, sandwiches, breakfast options, wraps and toasties.
Or if you just need cake they have homemade gluten free cakes which are all covered kept safe from cross contamination and served with separate (green) tongs. At Jake’s it’s all colour coded. You get your food on a green plate if you ask for gluten or allergen free. The chopping boards and untensils are all green for the gluten free or freefrom food and it’s made in a separate section of the kitchen. There are also the usual individually wrapped flapjacks and biscuits if you’re not brave enough to try the homemade options.
The evil wheat and gluten paninis and sarnies are made on RED chopping boards on the other side of the cafe and everything is regularly cleaned down. The cafe needs its regular customers so has to serve both gluten containing and non gluten food to keep going although Louise said she is seeing more requests for gluten free every week. Considering the cafe has only been going a few months they’re not doing too badly.
Coconut milk latte – my first EVER latte
I went with my friend and had my very first ever-in-my-life milky latte made with coconut milk. It was pretty awesome. I have been missing out on latte all my life and looking over at my smug latte guzzling friends thinking, ‘humph, my black americano coffee is far healthier than yours and I prefer it this way, honest I do…NOT!’
If you order tea they have either mugs or large pots with really funky hand-knitted tea cosies which I think you can also buy in the shop.
We also both had toasties. My dairy free genius bread toastie (made in a proper toastie machine – such a treat) was made first before any other gluten free lunch toasties were cooked so the machine was totally clean. The cafe is spotless anyway and they clean all machines, utensils and boards between every dish prepared but this extra measure made me feel even more safe. I had bacon and onion gluten free and dairy free toastie and it was delicious.
I don’t know of any other cafe that I’ve ever been to with such a huge choice for the food challenged. I also felt normal, not like a freak or fussy herbert. All the staff were really clued up and asked if they weren’t sure about anything. Louise’s parents both help out in the cafe too. Every customer is important at Jake’s Cafe and you are guaranteed a very warm welcome.
The cafe is owned by Louise who is a coeliac herself and understands the prodlems faced by people trying to find gluten free options.
Fancy a trip to Jake’s anyone?
So who’s coming with me then? Anyone else been there? What did you think? Wish it was nearer to where you live? It’s proof that even really small cafe’s can offer freefrom food safely if the take the time to organise their kitchen carefully, store all food safely and understand cross contamination.
A challenge to all independent cafe’s out there – can you learn from Jake’s and cater for the allergy and coeliac dollar? It’s growing and fast so make sure you get some of it.
Don Sawyer says
Ruth that was really interesting. As someone who is in the process of setting up a café/ shop I would be interested to learn more about Jakes.
Hi Don, that sounds really exciting. And as luck would have it I’m also in the process of setting up a food allergy awareness training company with a couple of partners so I will be in touch by email. It’s really not complex, there are simple steps and procedures that you can put in place to allow safe catering for all the food challenged out there.
nicola neal says
I am going tomorrow. Very excited. Was there much that was dairy free too? Just wondering if I still need to take a selection of safe foods for my little boy?
Hi Nicola, they have a kind of health slush puppy drink which is dairy free. In fact, everything free. If you phone up before hand they may be able to do you a GF and DF panini or toastie on the dedicated freefrom panini maker. I had ham and onion which was lovely.
I’m not sure if their cakes are dairy free as well as gluten free… if he likes a sweet snack maybe take something just in case. They have pure spread, and when I went had dairy free milk but I had phoned before hand. I would take some with you if you want a milky drink just in case. I did but didn’t need to use in the end.
Have fun and say Hi from me. There is a rare breeds farm too. YOu have to book slots so book one as soon as you arrive. Also, down on the far corner of the place is the Simply Free shop – you might find some goodies there to buy! HOpe you enjoy and stay safe.
nicola neal says
Thanks Ruth. Much appreciated. All sounds great. Will let you know how we get on.