Panna, located in Liverpool’s business district, just north of the centre, is tucked away in the basement of Silkhouse Court on Tythebarn Street. In a city full of lovely, old Victorian buildings (such as the nearby old Exchange Station), this is a disappointing slice of modern, stark, concrete functionality. The setting notwithstanding, Panna’s a lovely spot and, for somewhere that’s effectively a basement and entirely below street level, it’s surprisingly bright.
Panna opened in 2013, offering baguettes and coffee. However, the offering’s steadily expanded as demand has grown. These days there’s an interesting and innovative breakfast menu (to 11.30) and an equally interesting and innovative all-day brunch/lunch menu, with all the food prepared in the small kitchen behind the counter. Sandwiches are still available, as is a range of cakes and cookies.
The coffee side of Panna has also grown, with Has Bean providing the espresso blend and, since last summer, local roasters Neighbourhood Coffee offering a selection of single-origin filters through the V60. These were introduced to give customers something different from the typical Americanos, Panna being rewarded with a slow migration to pour-over. There’s also an interesting range of alcohol-based coffees and loose-leaf tea, served in individual infusers.
Hatch Coffee is the latest addition to Newcastle Upon Tyne’s steadily-growing speciality coffee scene and had been open all of ten days when I visited one sunny Monday afternoon. Situated in an old hut which used to belong to the car park attendant at the top of Ellison Place (the car park’s still going strong, but is now pay-and-display, so the attendant and accompanying hut are surplus to requirements).
Give its size, Hatch’s set-up is truly impressive. With less space than you’ll find behind the typical coffee-shop counter, the owner and head (sole for now) barista, Mark, has installed a fully-functioning speciality coffee shop. The espresso’s from local roasters, Colour Coffee, plus decaf from Bath’s Round Hill Roastery on a second grinder. There’s tea from Canton Tea Co, hot chocolate from Kokoa Collection and a range of soft drinks, plus locally-baked cakes and other goodies. All that’s missing is pour-over!
I had two full days in Portland on last year’s coast-to-coast trip; naturally, I spent them visiting coffee shops. The first was Five Points Coffee Roasters on Division Street, in suburban eastern Portland. It was a pleasant stroll from my motel, down leafy, residential streets, so I headed over for breakfast.
First, let’s clear up the issue around the name. Five Points started off life as Coffee Division six years ago, when it was acquired by the current owner, Chris. Initially Coffee Division used Stumptown, but four years ago, Chris started roasting on nearby Powell and 21st, using the name Five Points Coffee Roasters. By the time I arrived almost exactly a year ago, Five Points was in the middle of moving to have both coffee shop and roaster under the single brand
Five Points offers its house-blend on espresso, plus decaf, although by the time you read this, there should also be a single-origin on the third grinder. However, where Five Points really scores is on its filter coffee. There are four single-origins available as an individual hand-pour Chemex and, eschewing the normal batch-brew, Five Points makes up two Chemex at a time using its filter of the day.
Today’s Travel Spot is something of a surprise feature, certainly to me. I went to Porto last weekend with my friends Dave, Ian and Lev (I like friends with short, concise names: makes life so much easier). It was basically a weekend away with a chance to catch up and buy some port. They were flying back on Monday, but I’d decided to tack on a couple of days in Lisbon at the end, partly because I’d not been there for over 10 years, and partly to check out a couple of speciality coffee shops I’d heard about.
However, when it came to Porto, I really wasn’t expecting to find much in the way of good coffee. I had fond memories from previous trips of stylish European cafés with lots of excellent cakes, but when I asked around before the trip, my Porto friends said there wasn’t anything that I would recognise as speciality coffee. Not to worry, I thought, as I packed my beans, cafetiere, grinder, Aeropress and scales. After all, coffee wasn’t the primary purpose of the trip.
As it turned out, I was in for a surprise. Porto does, after all, have speciality coffee…
Chester’s somewhere which I frequently pass through on my way to/from my parents in North Wales, but I rarely find occasion/time to stop, partly because it’s so close to my parents, it doesn’t make sense to break my journey there. Anyway, that’s my excuse for taking so unreasonably long to visit Chester’s Jaunty Goat (plus there was a point at the start of last year when I thought it had closed; it was, in fact, merely relocating four doors further down Bridge Street).
This failure to visit is entirely my loss though, since the new Jaunty Goat is gorgeous. There’s Jaunty Goat’s own house-blend, plus decaf, on espresso, while on filter there are various guests from around the UK and beyond on V60, Aeropress and Chemex (for two). If you’re hungry, there’s a concise breakfast menu, plus sandwiches/soup for lunch, while copious quantities of cake are available throughout the day.
It’s also good that Chester has a second speciality coffee shop, with The Barista’s ploughing a lonely trough for quite a while. Then, of course, there was Moon Beer & Coffee (formerly Harvest Espresso), but this closed last summer, making Jaunty Goat’s successful reopening in July all the more important.
The latest addition to Birmingham’s growing speciality coffee scene opened in April, excellent timing considering that I was passing through at the start of May. A few weeks later, there I was on Water Street, home to Upstairs Coffee, where I had my first (temporary) disappointment: it’s on the ground floor! However, my profound disappointment was short-lived as I discovered that it was indeed correctly named, being upstairs from a (soon-to-be-opened) basement cocktail bar.
That little misunderstanding successfully resolved, I quickly fell in love with Upstairs Coffee. It’s a tiny, corridor-shaped space, about as wide as London’s Goodge St Espresso, but not quite as long, making it one of the smallest places I’ve been. Lovingly decked out in reclaimed materials, it’s also one of the best looking! The counter’s at the back and there’s space for a couple of seats at a bar on the left, but other than the bench outside, that’s it as far as seating goes.
The coffee is from Oxfordshire’s Ue Coffee Roasters, plus there’s loose-leaf tea and croissants/brownies from the local Peel & Stone Bakery, but that’s it. A word of warning: Upstairs Coffee only has takeaway cups, so don’t forget to bring your own!
Case Study Coffee Roasters is the first coffee shop I visited in Portland. Located in the heart of downtown, on the intersection of SW 10th Avenue/Yamhill Street, it is one three branches of this local chain, which roasts all its own coffee in a separate roastery.
The downtown branch is glorious. Rectangular in shape, there’s an amazing, copper-topped island counter and floor-to-ceiling windows on both sides, the natural light supplemented by multiple, interesting light-fittings for the odd gloomy day. The seating follows the windows, with the trees lining the streets providing plenty of shade, plus you can sit at the counter, or right at the back whether there are four more tables. The right-hand wall is taken up by a large set of retail shelves.
The focus, of course, is firmly on the coffee, all roasted in-house. There is a choice of the house-blend on espresso, joined by a single-origin and decaf. For filter, there’s the obligatory bulk brew, plus a choice of four single-origins through the Kalita Wave filter, which you can watch being made. Finally, Case Study has cold brew, made on the counter using some impressive kit that could have come straight out of a chemistry lab.
On Tuesday (10th May) I made my annual pilgrimage to London’s Olympia for the Caffè Culture show the four year running that I’ve been to Caffè Culture and the second time that I’d been asked to judge the Caffè Culture Exhibitor Best Drink Award. Prior to the show, this involved me whittling a list of 13 entries down to a shortlist of five. Then, on the first day of the show, I visited the stands of the five shortlisted exhibitors to try each of the drinks before selecting the winner. Just as I did last year, I had a fantastic time at meeting all the exhibitors, discovering the stories behind their products and trying the drinks themselves. Then, of course, came the tricky part: deciding on the actual winner.
I also had a chance to have a quick look around the show, which was an opportunity to catch up with some of the roasters I’d missed at this year’s London Coffee Festival, plus to catch up with a few that I’d not come across before. These will feature in their very own Caffè Culture round-up in a future Saturday Supplement. For now, however, let’s get back to the Awards.
Guildford has long been crying out for an independent, speciality coffee shop and finally, one has arrived! Surrey Hills Coffee, which has been roasting its own range of espresso & filter blends, plus a growing selection of single-origin coffees in the North Downs, has now opened its own coffee shop, taking over the lease on what was the Turn Fit Deli on Chapel Street.
It’s not a huge space, just a couple of tables, a window-bar and another bar at the back, but it’s bright and welcoming. The main draw is the coffee, although there is tea, soft drinks, plus a range of locally-baked cakes and made-to-order sandwiches, with ingredients from a range of local suppliers.
For somewhere so small, the range of coffee on offer is impressive: there are no fewer than three espresso blends, although if you don’t ask, you’ll get the default, the Holmbury Hill blend, which (in my opinion) is the best of the bunch. If you’re in a hurry, there’s the Cottage filter blend, available from a flask on the counter and made in small batches using the Moccamaster. Finally, if you don’t mind waiting, you can have a single-origin filter hand-made through the Chemex.
Heart Coffee Roasters is one of many coffee shops/roasters based in Portland, Oregon, but, after Stumptown, it’s probably the one that the most people on this side of the Atlantic have heard of. It was certainly very high on my list during my brief visit to Portland as part of my coast-to-coast trip last June, so I thought it was about time it featured on the Coffee Spot.
There are two Heart coffee shops in Portland, one on the west side, and this, on the east side, on East Burnside, right in the middle of the vast grid of residential streets on the eastern bank of the Willamette River. As well as being a coffee shop, this was also where, for many years, all of Heart’s coffee was roasted. However, the old Probat roaster was retired shortly before my visit due to Heart moving its growing roasting operation to a dedicated facility nearby.
The result, when I was there, 11 months ago, was a coffee shop in flux, so there may well have been more changes since my visit. However, what I found was a delightful, spacious, sunny spot, serving some excellent coffee, amongst the best of my entire trip.