Cotswold Artisan Coffee

The exterior of Cotswold Artisan Coffee on Bishop's Walk in Cirencester.Cotswold Artisan Coffee in Cirencester hasn’t been around long, but it’s already created a bit of a stir. Not long after it opened at the end of August, the local paper ran a story reporting that the locals were up in arms about it.  “Not another new coffee shop!” they were reportedly heard to say (well, tweet).

People of Cirencester! What are you talking about? This is not just “another new coffee shop”. It’s not something that can be lumped together with another branch of the ubiquitous chains (and heaven knows I walked past enough of those on my (short) journey from the car park). In Cotswold Artisan Coffee you have somewhere that would grace any town in the land, serving some of the best coffee there is, along with fabulous home-made cakes, all served in lovely surroundings.

With regular coffee from local roasters, Rave Coffee, and guests from London’s Union Hand-roasted and Shropshire’s Has Bean, the focus is clearly on the coffee. There’s bulk filter for those in a hurry, plus Aeropress to compliment the standard espresso-based coffee menu. For non-coffee drinkers, there’s award-winning hot chocolate and tea. And cakes. And toast!

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Cotswold Artisan Coffee on Bishop's Walk in Cirencester.
  • The view through the welcoming double-doors.
  • The counter. That's Barry, by the way. He built it. Nice work!
  • Well-spaced tables opposite the counter.
  • Cosy table in the corner, tucked away behind the counter.
  • The view from the back of the shop.
  • A closer look at Barry's hand-built counter. I like the use of the coffee sacks for decoration.
  • Toast!
  • Cake!
  • Coffee! Rave Coffee's Signature Blend on the left, Cuban Serrano Superior on the right, demand ginder in the centre.
  • There's also the odd bag of coffee for sale...
  • So, down to business....
  • Something from the espresso machine? Or the guest filter? Or both?
  • I started with the guest filter. The classic black cup somewhat gives Barry and Mandy's origins away!
  • I had a slice of the caramel flapjack to go with it.
  • And then rounded things off with Rave Coffee's Cuban Serrano Superior as an espresso.
Cotswold Artisan Coffee on Bishop's Walk in Cirencester.1 The view through the welcoming double-doors.2 The counter. That's Barry, by the way. He built it. Nice work!3 Well-spaced tables opposite the counter.4 Cosy table in the corner, tucked away behind the counter.5 The view from the back of the shop.6 A closer look at Barry's hand-built counter. I like the use of the coffee sacks for decoration.7 Toast!8 Cake!9 Coffee! Rave Coffee's Signature Blend on the left, Cuban Serrano Superior on the right, demand ginder in the centre.10 There's also the odd bag of coffee for sale...11 So, down to business....12 Something from the espresso machine? Or the guest filter? Or both?13 I started with the guest filter. The classic black cup somewhat gives Barry and Mandy's origins away!14 I had a slice of the caramel flapjack to go with it.15 And then rounded things off with Rave Coffee's Cuban Serrano Superior as an espresso.16
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For about as long as I’ve been doing the Coffee Spot, I’ve been aware of Cafelicious, a speciality coffee shop in Swindon of all places. “You must go,” nagged, err, I mean, encouraged, a certain individual. Eventually I crumbled. Plans were made, trips coordinated, excitement mounted and then… Nothing. I heard on the grapevine that Cafelicious was no more. Disaster!

I was, as you can imagine, devastated. My trip to Swindon, over before it started. But then came the silver lining. I heard about Cotswold Artisan Coffee in Cirencester. “You must go,” said the certain individual, knowingly. So I went. And who did I find but Barry and Mandy, the husband-and-wife team behind Cafelicious, relocated and rebranded to a lovely new coffee shop in Cirencester.

Cotswold Artisan Coffee is located in a small shop near the end of Bishop’s Walk, a pedestrianised parade of shops leading off Cricklade Street in the centre of Cirencester. It’s a lovely space, the only downside being the lack of natural light, which makes the normally hard-to-photograph classic black cups even harder to capture on camera! Apart from this small drawback, it’s perfect.

Barry and Mandy have resisted the temptation to pack too much in, giving Cotswold Artisan Coffee a feeling of space despite its relatively small size. You enter through big double-doors, which are held wide open, giving it a very welcoming appearance. Everything is focused on the counter, a hand-built affair, decorated with coffee sacks. This faces you as you come in, dominating the left-hand side of the shop. There are eight tables in all, arranged around the remaining three sides of the shop, with another outside on Bishop’s Walk. The wooden floor and plain walls, adorned with the odd motivational slogan (“a balanced diet is a cookie in each hand”), add to a clean, uncomplicated feel.

The focus is very much on the coffee, although the cakes, all made by Mandy, are quite distracting. I was spoilt for choice and could have had any of those on offer. I was tempted by the cheesecake, but decided, as my second cake of the day, that it would be too rich. Instead I went for the caramel flapjack. This was a delightfully chewy affair with rich caramel icing, but avoiding the overly-sweet sickliness that can afflict such creations. And probably about as rich as the cheesecake!

So, to the coffee. I had the guest filter, a Union Hand-roasted Sumatra Gajah Mountain, made by Aeropress. It was an excellent, full-bodied coffee, not too acidic or fruity, and very smooth, just how I like it. It’s the sort of coffee that I’ve come to expect from Union which is fast becoming one of my favourite roasters. The tasting notes suggested “plum, blackberry and sweet candied fruit” which was lost on me, but in fairness the flapjack was sweet enough that it might have desensitised my taste-buds!

Having been to Rave Coffee a few days earlier, I couldn’t leave without trying something from there. The choice was between the Signature Blend and the guest espresso, the Cuban Serrano Superior. Having had the Signature at Rave, I went for the Cuban and was rewarded with a very fine espresso. It was smooth with no bitterness or acid/fruity notes, just how I like it.

5 BISHOP’S WALK • CRICKLADE STREET • CIRENCESTER • GL7 1JH
+44 (0) 1285 239327
Monday 09:00 – 17:30 Seating Tables
Tuesday 09:00 – 17:30 Food Soup, Sandwiches, Toast, Cake
Wednesday 09:00 – 17:30 Service Order at Counter
Thursday 09:00 – 17:30 Cards Cash Only (for present)
Friday 09:00 – 17:30 Wifi No
Saturday 09:00 – 17:30 Power Yes
Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 Mobile 2G, Voice (marginal)
Chain No Visits 24th September 2013

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