From flat whites to latte art, drip-brews to siphon filters, you’ll find it all in the South West…
If you think truly good coffee is hard to find, you had best get yourself down to the South West – it’s where you’ll come across some of the best speciality coffee shops and suppliers in the country. We all know how awful a poorly made espresso can taste – bitter, burnt and downright offensive – so it is certainly a relief to know that there is some hope at the bottom of the cup. With an increasing number of vendors clocking onto the importance of ethical sourcing and seasonality, expert blending and roasting, and, of course, skilful brewing, exceptional coffee has never been so easy to find, and is spreading like wildfire across the area.
I will always remember my first artisan coffee experience, and the bitter-sweet flavour that exploded on my tongue as I took the first sip of my flawless espresso. Never before had I experienced such an interesting flavour in coffee – rich dark chocolate with a hint of sour cherry, and a touch of caramel to finish it off. This was nothing like the caffeine-heavy pick-me-up I was used to, but a luxurious flavour sensation that completely revolutionised the way I think about this popular beverage.
There is so much more to coffee than first meets the eye – from the sourcing and roasting of the beans, to the extraction of the coffee and the preparation of the milk – therefore it is important we recognise the great effort that is made by some to provide only the best possible coffee for their customers, whilst also ensuring the farmers are properly rewarded.
So, for all you like-minded coffee lovers out there, here is a list of some of the region’s best vendors (in no particular order) and what you need to know about them.
Newly established in 2013, Full Court Press is one of the most accomplished coffee shops to open in Bristol’s city centre, continuously striving to push forward the standard cup of coffee. Offering everything from tasting sets (ranging in price from £4 to £8) to brewing courses and basic barista training, this place is a must for those seeking to expand their knowledge of coffee, as well as those on the lookout for a flavoursome cup. Here you will find not only outstanding coffee, but a knowledgeable team dedicated to providing first-class service.
The team at Espressini are dedicated to using only the very best hand-roasted and seasonal coffee beans available, offering one of the most ethical cups of coffee in Cornwall. The extensive menu includes classics such as flat whites and cappuccinos, as well as filter and drip-brews, ensuring both adventurous and conservative palates are catered for. In 2012 the premises expanded and now incorporates the Killibrew Bar next door, providing even more space for those thirsty customers. Located just 10 minutes from Falmouth University, this place has proved popular among the student population and is well worth a visit.
Unquestionably one of the most accomplished coffee shops in the UK, Colonna and Small’s has revolutionised the way in which coffee is both sold and consumed in the region. Winner of both the UK and World Barista Championships 2012, co-owner Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood continues to push the boundaries in coffee preparation and service. Everything here, from the expertly selected blended and single-origin coffees, to the skilled team of staff and beautifully simple design of the café, works to showcase the complexity of the coffee itself, ensuring an enjoyable and informative experience is had by all. Offering everything from espressos and siphon filters, to one-on-one courses in latte art, you may just find yourself in coffee heaven.
Unlike many coffee vendors in the UK, the New England Coffee House actually roasts its own beans, thus offering one of the freshest cups of coffee in the whole of the country. Boasting a beautifully cosy interior, with comfortable leather sofas, soft lighting, and intimate corner tables, this is somewhere you’ll feel right at home. Here you will find not only an extensive menu offering a selection of coffees, delicious locally baked cakes and speciality teas, but a variety of liqueurs and spirits that can be added on request to any hot drink for a cheeky boozy kick.
This laidback coffee bar in Bristol’s city centre may well be small, seating only around 10 customers at any given time, but it certainly isn’t lacking in quality or style. With a simple interior comprising original red-brick walls and rustic wooden floors, this is a café where guests can enjoy an exceptional cup of coffee in relaxed and friendly environs. Also on offer is a variety of black and herbal teas, and a daily selection of freshly made sourdough toasties and cakes supplied by local artisan baker, Laura Hart. Providing welcoming service with irresistible refreshments, Small Street is a fantastic place to stop for a tasty morning or afternoon snack, with a coffee guaranteed to make your day.