I have to say that as I walked through the centre of Lincoln, I was not that hopeful. I’d heard great things about Coffee Aroma, but as I looked about me it didn’t seem to be the sort of place where I was going to find top-notch coffee: I really should have had more faith. If anything, Coffee Aroma was undersold.
That said, Coffee Aroma takes no prisoners. It knows what it wants to do and it does it without compromise. In this respect, the attitude reminds me of London’s Street Coffee. For example, the espresso comes with a small bottle of sparkling water as default, all tastefully arranged on a bespoke wooden tray. This is nice, but some might baulk at the £3 price tag that this attracts. Similarly, you want decaf? Not in Coffee Aroma you don’t (the explanation given to me was that the staff can’t find a decaf bean they like).
If you can accept these restrictions, then you’ll find that Coffee Aroma serves some very good coffee in lovely surroundings, especially upstairs, which I loved. The staff were also very friendly and engaging, as well as being passionate about their coffee.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
There’s a lot to be said for first impressions and Coffee Aroma made some very good ones. In a lovely old building on a pedestrianised street in the heart of Lincoln, at first glance it looks how a British shop of 100 years ago ought to look, but there’s nothing historic about its approach to coffee. “Coffee our passion…” it says above the door and that’s evident from the outset. The prominent chalk-boards let you know where you stand: “We will never do large, medium or small…” or “Watered down Espresso (Americano)? Sorry but NO!!!” If you thought you were in a run-of-the mill coffee chain, these would dispel any doubts!
The coffee (except the espresso) is served with a glass of tap water as standard, with all the drinks coming on purpose-made wooden trays, the size matching the drink. After much faffing (from a choice of eight beans as well as the usual espresso range, all from Has Bean), I plumped for a Bolivia Finca Uyunense. Coffee Aroma uses a Chemex filter, employing the sort of precision I’ve come to expect (pre-rinsing the filter paper, precisely weighing out the shot and water, etc).
The coffee came in a carafe with a bright red cup (matching the red of the Has Bean coffee bags). I noted that espresso came in classic white cups, while lattes came in glasses. There were also some blue cups, but I never did find out what they were for…
The Finca itself was pleasant without (for my palette) being outstanding. If anything, I felt it was a little weak. I had an espresso later in the day which was a fairly typical Has Bean (ie slightly fruiter than I would like) although I felt that it could have done with being a little shorter.
While the coffee is good, Coffee Aroma is also a great place to sit and drink coffee. Downstairs feels a little cramped: the espresso machine, grinders, menu and assorted paraphernalia live behind a large L-shaped wooden counter on which sits the large (and impressive) cake display. That doesn’t leave much space for anything else, but there are a couple of tables and a few bar stools at two window bars.
Space aside, the downstairs is nice, but the really great seating is upstairs. It’s not huge, but there’s a lounge area with some very nice sofas and another area with a small bar, some sofas, comfy chairs and four tables. If you can’t find somewhere to sit that suits you it’ll be because someone else got there first!
The walls are decorated with sheet music and one is given over to a large blackboard with a world map showing where the different coffee beans on offer have come from. It’s finished off with hand-drawn portraits of the staff. The ceiling has a painting of the interior of a courtyard from the perspective of someone standing in the middle and looking straight up, which is a nice touch.
If I have one complaint about the upstairs it’s that it was a touch cold. Not freezing cold, but cold enough for me (and everyone else who was there) to notice. I put this down as a one-off but it might be worth wrapping up if it’s cold outside!
|24 GUILDHALL STREET • LINCOLN • LN1 1TR|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:30||Seating||Tables, sofas, comfy chairs, bar, tables outside|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:30||Food||Cake|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:30||Service||Order at Counter|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:30||Cards||Cash Only|
|Friday||08:00 – 20:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Saturday||08:00 – 20:00||Power||Limited|
|Sunday||10:30 – 16:30||Mobile||3G, Voice|
|Chain||No||Visits||15th February 2013|
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