iCaf is an international café run in a down town coffee shop to which people from other nations are invited to spend time with British people. The hosts are local church people who love the nations, love coffee shops, love the English language and most of all who love the Lord Jesus Christ and want to share that love with others.
iCafs foster a welcoming, warm and relaxed social atmosphere while people chat over a tea/coffee around tables together. They are deliberately designed to be a non-threatening environment and the neutrality of a Costa, Nero or Starbucks café provides the perfect venue. Over the course of a couple of hours in early evening there may be some fun games and ice-breakers to get people from different countries chatting, laughing and conversing in English together.
The international café (or global café) model has been developed, tried and tested in international student ministry, especially by Friends International. As well as working really well with students, the iCaf model works just as well with international people who are in the UK for other reasons, such as work.
The Reading iCaf has been running since 2014 and started in a branch of Costa, attached to the main Tesco superstore. Through word of mouth and advertising at our local Bridges English Schools, this monthly event began to draw many overseas guests. Now we meet in a more central location in the Starbucks branch closest to Reading’s smart new Railway station. People from several local churches are involved and the iCafs are so popular we now run them twice a month. We have even secured funding from a local charity to buy our drinks!