Anyone who comes up with a coffee brand name like Break Fluid has to be some kind of petrolhead. Chris Woodage opened his coffee shop three and a half years ago in Frome, Somerset and the entire place pays homage to hot-rod and biking culture as well as offering its customers a great cup of coffee.
Chris trained as a chef in London, has done BMX, mountain biking, spent time surfing in Hawaii and worked on the Demon Drome wall of death. Plus he’s been into motorcycles and hot-rods most of his life. He also spent time in the States: “I met a guy there called Steve Olpin, a film maker. He took me to the studio of Jeff Decker [one of the all-time great motorcycle sculptors]. That was an eye-opener for me and is what got me into this.” There’s Decker images among others taken by Chris adorning the walls, along with all the biking and hot-rodding memorabilia that gives Crocker & Woods such a homely feel – Crocker is Chris’s dog. “This isn’t a concept – just an extension of my lounge,” says Chris.
“I got into the coffee thing because it’s social. I don’t drink so it’s like whiskey without the alcohol. People talk about coffee the same way some rivet counters talk about classic bikes. It can be quite geeky. We do speciality coffee but we don’t talk about it. I certainly don’t want to be elitist about it.
“The blend depends on the time of the year because a coffee crop is seasonal,” he continues. “We’re currently using a blend of Columbian and Rwandan. Ours is a medium roast. Costa coffee for example is a dark roast.
“Funny thing happened when we opened,” he says. “We had the Demon Drone crew here, some hot rodders and bikers, and then an old lady walked in. And then a family. And everyone loved the coffee and being in here.” Chris also takes his business on the road. “We do outside events: Womad, Glastonbury, End of the Road… We try to get involved in stuff that’s genuine rather than ‘themed’. We’re not a concept. I’ve not thought about any of it that heavily. If people like what we do, then great. If not, fuck it. Lots of cafes seem to be trying to be something to everyone. We’re not like that.”