You could argue that Bristol is in the middle of a golden age of coffee, putting it up there with the likes of Edinburgh. In the last nine months, four top-notch coffee shops, as good as any in the country, have opened. Each offers something different, but all share a passion for great coffee. Three of them, Wild at Heart, Small Street Espresso and Full Court Press, form a triangle in the centre of the old medieval city. Didn’t You Do Well is an outpost on Park Row, offering a specialist alternative to the grand-daddy of the Bristol coffee scene, the Boston Tea Party, just around the corner on Park Street.
Didn’t You Do Well nails its colours firmly to the speciality coffee mast with some unusual brewing technology (at least for the UK). It offers a choice of beans and a fairly severe outlook on how you take your coffee. This goes with a clean, uncluttered look which seems to minimise any distraction from the coffee itself. While others, such as Wild at Heart, might go for quirky surroundings, the quirkiness at Didn’t You Do Well stops with the name: everything else is focused squarely on the coffee!
March 2015: Sad news… Didn’t You Do Well closed at the end of the month after two years of bringing great coffee to Bristol. Good luck to Will and Ally in whatever they do next.
October 2015: Will is now working full-time as a barista in Full Court Press.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Didn’t You Do Well, located a little off the beaten track on the south side of Park Row, was in its sixth week of trading when I visited it on my third Coffee Spot tour of Bristol. There’s an A-board on the pavement outside, promising fine coffee, but other than that, it’s quite easy to walk past, which would be a shame, because once you get inside you have not only fine coffee, but a small range of excellent cakes and pastries from the wonderful Hart’s Bakery which is rapidly establishing itself as the supplier of choice for many Bristol coffee shops.
The best way of describing Didn’t You Do Well is that its look is very “clean”, although perhaps “stripped-back” or “uncluttered” would be better. Or maybe all three. The simple wooden floor and white-painted walls add to the effect. There are a couple of trestle tables, a small square table, and, at the back, the counter with espresso machine, brew bar and cake. Incidentally, Didn’t You Do Well is the first Coffee Spot I’ve been to with more power outlets (ten) than chairs (seven).
Other than having a very weird name, Didn’t You Do Well’s main claim to fame is its Slayer espresso machine. These are so rare that I think it might be the fourth in the country. I first came across one of these shiny beasts in Edinburgh’s Brew Lab and I believe there are a couple in London, but I’ve not seen them. Talking to owner/operators Will and Ally, Will admitted that the Slayer was something he’d always wanted, but since it’s made in Seattle, making support an issue, he never really thought it was feasible. Then his roaster, Has Bean, became a distributor and it was, in his own words, “a sign”.
Now Will and Ally are the proud owners of both a Slayer and a very fine coffee shop.
So, what about the coffee? If you’re in the 99.99% of the population who neither knows nor cares what a Slayer is, or indeed that Didn’t You Do Well uses a Kolita Filter rather than the more ubiquitous V60, what do you need to know? Well, you get a choice of two espresso beans which you can have as a straight espresso or with varying amounts of milk (macchiato up to latte). Alternatively there’s a third bean which you can have as a filter coffee. If you are puzzled, ask Will and Ally who will gladly help you decide.
I went for the El Salvador Finca Loma La Gloria Washed (which is easier to drink than say!) as an espresso while my friend, Andrew, who I’d brought along for tasting purposes, had the Burundi Ngozi Rugambo Washed filter. If you must, you can have sugar and, for your brewed coffee, milk, although Will and Ally would much rather you drink it as it comes!
My espresso was exceedingly well-made (that’s a Slayer in the hands of a craftsman for you) while the filter was exceedingly good. The espresso was slightly fruitier than I would like, but that’s a common thing with me and Has bean and is no reflection on Didn’t You Do Well. I’d have liked to linger longer, drink more coffee and eat cake, but other Coffee Spots called me away…
|20 PARK ROW • BRISTOL • BS1 5LJ|
|www.facebook.com/DidntYouDoWell||+44 (0) 7807 416092|
|Monday||08:00 – 16:30||Seating||Tables, Bench Outside|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 16:30||Food||Cake|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 16:30||Service||Order at Counter|
|Thursday||08:00 – 16:30||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Friday||08:00 – 16:30||Wifi||No (but can get University wifi at front)|
|Saturday||08:00 – 16:30||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||2nd May 2013|
Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Bristol for more great Coffee Spots.
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