#CultofMachine - A Visit To Caffeine and Machine at Night
Author: Tom Magnay / Images: BlendLine Apparel
There's no place quite like Caffeine and Machine. No, really.
It's nestled in the heart of the Warwickshire countryside, you turn in off the main road that runs between Stratford-upon-Avon and Ettington, and you're normally greeted by a friendly member of staff at the gate who will check your ticket (if applicable) and direct you where to park.
Parking in the gravel car park behind the main buildings, you'll have probably already driven past a number of notable pieces of metal in the car park, and that's exactly what appeals to me (and every other petrolhead) about C&M, is the variety of cars parked there at any one time.
Caffeine and Machine has earned itself a reputation since its establishment as a brand in 2015. Since then, it has run automotive events in the Middle East, and around 3 years ago set up in this ex-pub building in its current site, where they market themselves as a coffee house, bar/restaurant and boutique B&B.
The unique thing about this place is it is ALL octane themed, and aimed as a rest stop for riders and drivers of 2 and 4 wheeled vehicles alike. Motor related artwork and racing memorabilia adorns the walls (and ceilings), sometimes there is even cars and bikes inside the pub itself.
A walk from our own parked car (I'm attending with Mrs Magnay today) and we head for the "Emporium" and the coffee house set within the pub. After ordering a coffee - and the coffee here is good - we head back outside and take a seat in the ample outdoor seating area. Coronavirus has - like all entertainment venues - meant Caffeine and Machine has had to alter its methods when it comes to housing its thousands of guests who descend upon their pub every week. Personally I think it has even improved the experience here, with covered (and patio heated) outdoor picnic benches in amongst the centerpiece of the venue (its car park and the machinery turning in off the road) and a very efficient app-based online ordering system for your food and beverage.
When we've been before it's been daylight and a more lunchtime based visit on the way to/from somewhere else nearby.
Today though we're here at dusk, it's just a few days after Christmas and we're here for the Cult of Machine event which has a combination of their various midweek evening events which otherwise run throughout the year.
Cult of Machine consists of their JDM based Daikoku Nights (Japanese/drift car fans eat your heart out), FWDThinking which is, as you probably guessed, aimed at owners of front wheel drive cars and hot hatches, and finally StrassenKultur which translates as "street culture" in German and attracts our VAG/BMW driving friends, often with a heavy dose of airbag suspension and scuffed carbon splitters...
But the theory behind C&M is that everyone is welcome. Slogans emblazoned across exterior walls and on signage includes "a fat wallet doesn't make you special (but ITBs probably do)", as well as "back it up, back it in" (suggesting visitors should reverse into the display car parking spaces across the front of the building for a more uniform feel) and finally, the sign by the road as you drive out when leaving - simply "don't be a d*ck" which has turned into a bit of a motto within C&M's merchandise branding.
The reason for that last slogan suggests there may have been the odd issue with a neighbour when it comes to the throttle pedal conduct of patrons leaving the premises, in a louder than acceptable fashion!
Back in the yard, and now seated with a coffee, we admire the machinery parked around us. Darkness has fallen since we arrived, and the carpark is lit up in a contemporary fashion with warm coloured bulbs strewn between various posts and buildings.
From our vantage point - and this is where the eclectic mix really comes in - I can see everything from a brand new Aston V8 Vantage, to a highly modified looking B5 RS4. A Mini JCW, a W203, a Focus in full Ken Block Gymkhana wrap. A lovely original Fulvia has driven in, and parked next to an S13 drift car. An RS7, a Civic Type R and a Continental GT. I look towards the other side of the car park. Another Bentley, an RX7 (encouragingly unmolested looking) and a 924. This is just one corner of the car park. After we've finished our dinner (awesome street-style hot dogs) and a bit of dessert, we take a stroll round the cars parked in other areas of the event. A slammed E38 735i next to a neon-lit GT86, a Defender with stickers to suggest it had been all around the world, more than once, and an E46 M3. A blue Ferrari 360 pulls in off the main road with a V8 burble (the fairly swift blip & downshift suggests it's an automatic) and turns a few heads, but not all, as everyone gathered around is already pre-engaged in conversation, face illuminated in the glow of a phone screen, or tucking into a mouthful of tasty grub.
A special something - and something that really caught my eye was an immaculate S1 106 Rallye.
Black paint, with dealership stickers present in the rear window, this was a true icon and those who know me, are aware that I have a real soft spot for a 90s French hatch, especially one with some motorsport heritage. The owner had commendably driven it in (on a wet December night) and was directed to park inside the main building, such was the prestige of this car!
And that's "it", an event at Caffeine and Machine really consists of no "central spectacle" other than the well attended car park, good food and drink, good company and some really interesting cars.
If you're in the area, or even if you're not, I thoroughly recommend a trip to this place, bring a special car, or don't, it doesn't matter! But just remember one thing, don't be a d*ck!
Tom Magnay: @tommagnay01
BlendLine Apparel: @blend_line
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