The 2015 Coffee Spot Calendar Update

The cover of the Brian's Coffee Spot Calendar, 2015, showing a flat white in a white cup, with tulip latte artAfter the success of last year’s Coffee Spot calendar, which sold over 100 copies, I’m back with the 2015 Coffee Spot calendar! As before, I’ve produced a professionally-printed calendar, A4 in size, on glossy paper. Each month there’s a landscape, A4 picture from one of my favourite Coffee Spots of the last 12 months. Just as last year, I’ve also printed a very limited number of desktop calendars (just as last year, I’ve done 10).

Each calendar costs £12.00, with a flat fee of £2.00 postage and packing, regardless of how many you order  (UK only). There are also discounts for multiple purchases. If you think we’re likely to meet up in the near future, I’ll even waive the postage and hand your calendar over in person!

For orders for Europe, the postage and packing will be £4.00 for one or two calendars, while for the rest of the world, it’s £6.00. I apologise for the excessive postage charges, but this is what it’s costing me to send them to you!

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Number 35 Coffee House & Kitchen

Thumbnail - No 35 Coffee House & Kitchen (DSC_6237h)Number 35 Coffee House & Kitchen, appropriately enough at No 35 on Dorchester’s West High Street, is a gem amongst coffee shops. Run by the very wonderful Toby, it is one of that rare breed where the focus is firmly on the bean, following the lead of the likes of Dublin’s 3FE or the closer Full Court Press (Bristol) and Colonna & Small’s (Bath).

However, it’s not just about the coffee, since Number 35 also lives up to the kitchen part of its name, with food at lunchtimes and, on Friday evenings, a full dinner menu. The coffee shop closes at 3 o’clock on Fridays, re-opening at four as the kitchen. There is, of course, cake throughout the day.

It helps that Number 35 is also a lovely setting. There’s a small front room, which feels in part like an old Victorian shop, with its bay window and high ceilings, plus a quiet, cosy back room. This is long, low and has the bulk of the seating, feeling more like a basement (although it is at ground level).

Last, but not least, Number 35 is dog-friendly, and, as if to prove the point, has a friendly dog.

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Cup North 2014 Part II

An espresso being pulled on Foundry's Londinium lever espresso machine at Cup North.Today’s Saturday Supplement is the second half of my detailed report on the wonderful Cup North, Manchester’s two-day coffee festival. I’ve split my reporting into five main themes: Old Friends and New Roasters, which I covered last week, and Coffee Cuppings, Miscellaneous and Street Food, which I’m covering this week.

Coffee Cuppings, as the name suggests, is all about the two coffee cuppings I attended, while Miscellaneous covers an interesting mix, including a latte-art thrown down, tea (yes, I know…) and books. Finally, Street Food is a round-up of all the delicious food that was on offer at Cup North, organised by the wonderful Grub.

Each section has its own gallery and a short write-up which I present below, starting with Coffee Cuppings. Continue reading

Villiers Coffee Co

Thumbnail - Villiers Coffee Co (20141118_142643)Following the likes of Notes and Fernandez & Wells into the food, wine and coffee market, is Villiers Coffee Co, which opened this summer. It’s tucked away, appropriately enough, on Villiers Street, which runs alongside Charing Cross station, linking the Strand with the Embankment. Villiers, or to give it its full name, Villiers All Day Dining & Coffee Co (we’ll stick with Villiers) does what it says on the tin (or more accurately, the awning): all-day dining and (excellent) coffee. Plus wine. And cake. Which aren’t on the awning.

During the day, Villiers looks and feel like an upmarket coffee shop, with a dining room at the back. There’s breakfast (commendably served until five o’clock) with lunch from noon until five. From noon onwards, the all-day dining menu is also served. In the evening Villiers morphs into a wine bar at the front, with an atmospheric, candle-lit dining room at the back.

The coffee is from James Gourmet Coffee and, as far as I know, Villiers is the only place in London where you can get it on a regular basis.

I visited twice: in the summer for lunch, not long after Villiers opened, and again in November for dinner.

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Perky Peacock, Lendal

The Perky Peacock logo, a black-and-white roundel with a stylised peacock in the top half and the words "The Perky Peacock Coffee Shop" written around the edge.Back in June, I made a long overdue visit to York, and, true to Coffee Spot fashion, I started with the second of the two Perky Peacocks (the one on Gillygate). It therefore struck me that I really shouldn’t leave York without visiting the original on Lendal Bridge. So, on Monday morning, on my way to the station, I called in.

Set in a medieval postern tower on the railway side of the bridge, it is perhaps the best setting for a coffee shop that I have come across in a long while. In fairness to York, though, there is another, Gatehouse Coffee, which I’ve yet to visit. This one’s set in Walmgate Bar, one of the many gates in the city walls.

Like London’s Attendant (the coffee shop inside a Victorian gents toilet), there’s always a danger that the location ends up doing the talking, in which case it becomes a gimmick. In this instance a coffee shop inside a 14th century tower is pretty cool in anyone’s books. Fortunately for those of us who like our coffee, just as with Attendant, the coffee at the Perky Peacock is every bit as outstanding as the location!

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Cup North 2014 – Part I

An espresso being pulled on Foundry's Londinium lever espresso machine at Cup North.In the previous Saturday Supplement, I presented a round-up of Cup North, Manchester’s two-day coffee festival. This week I dive into the weekend in more detail. I could easily publish my adventures over five different Saturday Supplements, but at that rate, we’d soon be at Christmas, so I’ve decided to split it into two posts, with five main themes: Old Friends, New Roasters, Coffee Cuppings, Miscellaneous & Street Food. Part I, this post, includes Old Friends & New Roasters, while Part II, out next weekend, will have Coffee Cuppings, Miscellaneous & Street Food.

Old Friends covers a pair of roasters I’ve previously visited and one roasters I’ve never met, but whose coffee I’ve been drinking for a while now. This particular roaster also roasts some of my all-time favourite espresso blends. In contrast, New Roasters covers (some) of the roasters that I ran into the first time at Cup North. Completely by accident, they were all from either Yorkshire (three) or Lancashire (two).

The two sections have their own galleries and each has a short write-up as well.

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Ultimo Coffee, Catharine Street

The Ultimo symbol, a Roman Eagle, here cut out of an iron plate.I’ve saved the first until last, so to speak. On my trip to Philadelphia back in March, Ultimo was my first port of call, fresh off the train from Boston, whisked there by my generous host for the weekend, Greg of Coffee Guru App fame. It seems appropriate that of the nine Coffee Spots I visited (11 if you count The Franklin Fountain and Jany’s), it’s the last to be written up.

Catharine Street’s the second of Philadelphia’s two Ultimos, the westernmost Coffee Spot that I visited (the original, on S 15th Street, is a long way out of town and would easily have been the furthest south had I made it there; next time, maybe). After leaving the Amtrak Station and crossing the river, turn right and it’s a straight run down 22nd Street to Ultimo, making it a logical place to start my coffee tour.

Ultimo serves Counter Culture coffee (with occasional guest roasters) with an emphasis on filter. Chemex is available until 11 o’clock in the morning, with V60 on the go throughout the day. There’s a choice of three single-origins, with single-origin house and guest espressos, plus decaf. There’s a range of sandwiches and cakes too.

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One Shot

The One Shot logo, an eight-engined, propeller-driven flying boat, painted on the side of the wall of One Shot.After my recent Manchester exploits (Cup North, Pot Kettle Black, Caffeine Magazine), I thought it high time I returned to Philadelphia, a city with many similarities to Manchester, to finish writing up the Coffee Spots from my trip back in March. So, I present, without further ado, One Shot, which was introduced to me by my host, Greg of Coffee Guru App.

To the north of the centre, One Shot is a lovely spot, best known for its food and, as a result, a very popular brunch spot. Naturally enough, Greg and I went there for Sunday brunch. It’s been serving great food and equally great coffee since 2005 and, in 2011, moved a short distance from its original location to its current premises, spread over two floors on the corner of W George and N American Streets.

A long, thin store, downstairs is dominated by the counter, while upstairs is given over to a wide range of seating options, including a lounge/library area (with its own motorbike) right at the front. There’s also seating outside. The food is varied, with numerous specials, while the main menu changes on a seasonal basis. The coffee, meanwhile, is from Stumptown.

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Cup North 2014 Round Up

An espresso being pulled on Foundry's Londinium lever espresso machine at Cup North.Last weekend, I made a brief return up north to Cup North, Manchester’s two-day coffee festival. It was lovely, not just because of Cup North, but also because I could catch up with old friends such as Caffeine & Co and North Tea Power, discover new ones, such as the amazing Pot Kettle Black, and hop over the Pennines to Huddersfield and the delightful Coffee Kabin.

But what of Cup North itself? Well, if you’ve been to the London Coffee Festival, it was a bit like that. Then again, it wasn’t. Cup North was on a very different, much more manageable and, dare I say it, friendly, scale. Not that anyone at the London Coffee Festival has ever been unfriendly, far from it, but the sheer size of London and the number of visitors crammed in, make it a very hectic affair, even if, like me, you’re there for three days!

In contrast, Cup North was much more laidback, with more time to talk and socialise, and a chance to really get to know the various exhibitors. In all there were about 30 of them and you’d think, in two whole days, I’d have managed to visit them all…

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Coffee Kabin

The counter at the Coffee Kabin, cakes to the left, coffee straight ahead.Just to the south of Huddersfield’s bustling town centre and directly opposite Huddersfield University campus, is the Coffee Kabin, perched on the busy Queensgate, which serves as part of Huddersfield’s ring road. The name Coffee Kabin is, on the one hand, a bit of a misnomer, “cabin” conjuring in my mind a small spot akin to Manchester’s Caffeine & Co or, even more appropriately, Grindsmith [coming soon to the Coffee Spot].

Instead it’s a surprisingly big place, with a spacious upstairs seating area and a cosy downstairs, where seating shares space with the counter. On the other hand, “cabin” fits perfectly, bringing to mind an image of wooden floors and bare, stone walls, a look which the Coffee Kabin pulls off so well. And, to be fair, who said cabins have to be small?

On espresso, the house-blend is from local roasters Grumpy Mule, just down the road in Holmfirth, while there are guests on espresso and filter. To counter-balance Grumpy Mule’s proximity, the guests rotate regularly between London’s Workshop, Cornwall’s Origin and Berlin’s The Barn. There’s also a decent selection of loose-leaf tea, an array of cakes and (all-day) breakfast and lunch menus, plus award-winning hot chocolate from Kokoa Collection.

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