Right in the heart of Brighton’s Lanes, tucked away in a corner next to Café Coho, is The Marwood. It is perhaps the most Brighton-like of all Brighton’s many and varied coffee shops. To call it quirky would be an understatement: The Marwood is quite possibly the most eclectic place I have visited since I started the Coffee Spot.
I first ran across it as a showcase for Google Maps new “walk-through” feature. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to go there! Of course, quirky can be a double-edged sword: if quirky is used as a gimmick, then it rapidly gets stale. Similarly, quirky without good coffee wouldn’t amount to much either.
Fortunately, The Marwood puts its money where its mouth is, with a classic espresso from Southampton roasters, Mozzo. There’s no third-wave experimentation here, no pour-overs or fancy preparation methods. In fact, the coffee is probably the most straightforward aspect of the whole place. Although it describes itself as a coffee house, The Marwood also does food and serves wine, spirits and bottled beer, as well as offering a variety of different spaces in which to hang out.
April 2015: The Marwood now uses one of my favourite roasters, Winchester’s The Roasting Party.
September 2020: sadly, the Marwood has closed due to problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
How to describe The Marwood? I’m not sure I can, although I’ll try. In all honesty, you really have to experience it for yourself (although you can see what fellow coffee-blogger, My Daily Grind, made of it).
I’ll start with the coffee, since that’s the most straightforward thing. The Marwood boasts “Kick Arse Coffee and Life Changing Cake”! Fortunately it lives up to these bold claims. The menu is concise, offering the usual espresso-based drinks without going overboard with multiple varieties/sizes of coffee with milk.
I ordered an espresso and was offered a single or double shot (same price). Normally I’d have had a double, but it was late and The Marwood was my fifth coffee shop of the day, hence I really needed to keep my caffeine consumption under control. So, despite the best efforts of the staff, I ordered a single espresso. This turned out to a very short shot, served in a glass, and was superb. Mozzo’s espresso is a dark roast, which produces a smooth coffee with lots of body and no hint of bitterness.
I also had a brownie (they were sitting on the counter, looking very enticing; how could I resist? Besides, they’re life-changing!). This was excellent too; rich, without being overly sweet, and with a wonderfully gooey interior.
The Marwood resembles (and probably was) an old house. Downstairs is the counter (to the left) and the first of three main seating areas (to the right). At the back, stairs lead up to the first floor (second area), while a corridor heads out to the garden (the third). The Marwood is definitely quirky: Star Wars spaceships hang over the counter, including X-wings and the Millennium Falcon. And a Tardis. Naturally. Old computers abound: at least three of the stools are old Apple PCs (with cushions on top) while a very old laptop hangs on one of the walls. Another PC has been pressed into service as a table, along with an old arcade game. A Spitfire shares airspace with the Pink Panther, parachuting down to earth using an umbrella. Someone else has hung their laundry out to dry on a washing line. And that’s just downstairs!
Upstairs is more refined. It feels like someone’s lounge: sofas, armchairs and coffee tables abound, along with a splendid fireplace. Whereas downstairs has quite loud music, which won’t be to everyone’s tastes, upstairs is much quieter and more relaxing.
The garden is something else again. Although there are a couple of small tables outside the front door, the wonderful yard/garden at the back is the place to be. Be careful though: beyond the stairs, past the toilets, is a small covered area with benches around the sides. Many mistake this for the yard, but you need to keep going. Turn right and you come out into a massive, open space, with old cable reels for tables and massive art painted onto the walls. Now here’s a space to sit in on a sunny day!
One of the (many) nice things about The Marwood is that it opens (very) late, when it feels as much like a pub/bar as it does a coffee shop. In keeping with this, The Marwood serves alcohol and while it’s not a huge range for a bar, it’s pretty decent for a coffee shop.
|52 SHIP STREET • BRIGHTON • BN1 1AF
|+44 (0) 1273 382063
|08:00 – 20:00
|The Roasting Party (espresso only)
|08:00 – 20:00
|Benches, sofas, tables, tables outside
|08:00 – 23:00
|Breakfast, lunch, cake
|08:00 – 23:00
|Order at counter
|08:00 – 23:00
|09:00 – 23:00
|Free (with code)
|10:00 – 20:00
|6th September 2013
If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, check out the rest of Brighton and Hove’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Brighton & Hove.
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