Tamp Culture

An espresso being poured via a single-spout basket at Tamp Culture in ReadingFor a long time, speciality coffee in Reading has meant the (excellent) Workhouse Coffee with its two branches on Oxford Road and King Street. However, that is slowly changing with the arrival of several new players, including the intriguing Tamp Culture, which has been at the entrance to the Oracle centre since April of this year.

Technically a coffee cart, Tamp operates perhaps the most impressive set-up I’ve seen, with a counter that puts many a shop to shame and a range of coffee-kit and merchandising that surpasses many a speciality outlet. What’s even more impressive is that whole edifice is dismantled every evening and packed away in the Piaggio Ape that forms the backbone of the operation. There’s even outdoor seating and a nice big awning to keep the rain/sun off the counter.

Like Workhouse, Tamp roasts all its own coffee, with a range of around 20 single-origin beans. Two of these are always on offer, the choice rotating on a weekly basis, with plenty more beans available to buy. As well as the usual espresso-based options, Tamp also offers Aeropress and pour-over filter options (these aren’t on the menu, so you have to ask).

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • In the centre of Reading, just outside the Oracle shopping centre, you'll find Tamp Culture.
  • It looks like this if you're heading out of the Oracle by the way.
  • In case you're wondering exactly where, it's across the road from Reading Minster.
  • Anyway, back to Tamp. Just follow the excellent signage!
  • For a coffee cart, Tamp is a fairly permanent (and extensive) fixture!
  • There's even some tables, such as this one up by the driver's door...
  • ... and this pair out on Gun/Minster Street.
  • JOCO Cup claims one of the tables.
  • Technically, Tamp Culture is mobile, but this Piaggio Ape's not going anywhere!
  • Although a substantial beast, the counter's actually constructed from scratch every morning
  • ... and then taken down and (flat) packed away every evening.
  • So, to business. A concise and unfussy menu.
  • There are also cakes, m'hencha in this case.
  • No prizes for guessing who the tea is from!
  • However, this is what I came for: there's always a choice of two single-origin coffees...
  • ... plus plenty more to take away, all roasted in-house by Tamp.
  • The business end of the grinders...
  • ... and a two-group espresso machine in the back of the Ape.
  • Don't see many one spout baskets these days! Nice pour.
  • That one wasn't for me. Instead I had a flat white in JOCO Cup.
  • It's always a good sign when the milk holds the pattern all the way to the bottom of the cup!
In the centre of Reading, just outside the Oracle shopping centre, you'll find Tamp Culture.1 It looks like this if you're heading out of the Oracle by the way.2 In case you're wondering exactly where, it's across the road from Reading Minster.3 Anyway, back to Tamp. Just follow the excellent signage!4 For a coffee cart, Tamp is a fairly permanent (and extensive) fixture!5 There's even some tables, such as this one up by the driver's door...6 ... and this pair out on Gun/Minster Street.7 JOCO Cup claims one of the tables.8 Technically, Tamp Culture is mobile, but this Piaggio Ape's not going anywhere!9 Although a substantial beast, the counter's actually constructed from scratch every morning10 ... and then taken down and (flat) packed away every evening.11 So, to business. A concise and unfussy menu.12 There are also cakes, m'hencha in this case.13 No prizes for guessing who the tea is from!14 However, this is what I came for: there's always a choice of two single-origin coffees...15 ... plus plenty more to take away, all roasted in-house by Tamp.16 The business end of the grinders...17 ... and a two-group espresso machine in the back of the Ape.18 Don't see many one spout baskets these days! Nice pour.19 That one wasn't for me. Instead I had a flat white in JOCO Cup.20 It's always a good sign when the milk holds the pattern all the way to the bottom of the cup!21
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Tamp Culture was set up by two brothers, Josh and Marcus, who share time on the cart with old friend of the Coffee Spot, Phil Carter. Meanwhile, all the roasting is done by Owain, who it seems to me has the best (ie indoors) job! Not that the Tamp Culture coffee cart is your typical outdoor operation, reminding me of the likes of Bean About Town in terms of the complexity of its set-up.

Officially part of Reading’s Oracle shopping complex, Tamp has a permanent spot at the junction of Gun and Minster Streets, opposite Reading Minister, which forms a very nice backdrop if you’re sitting at one of the two tables on the broad paved area outside the Oracle. Tamp itself is on the right-hand side as you come in, focused a Piaggio Ape, open at the back to reveal the two-group espresso machine. An impressive wooden counter encloses the back of the Ape, while a large, four-posted awning provides cover (although not to the tables, so you’re out of luck if it’s raining).

Pretty much everything about Tamp is impressive: it’s the sort of operation I’d associate with a full-blown coffee shop and absolutely not what I’d expect to find on a coffee cart. Technically, Tamp’s Piaggio Ape is mobile, but these days it’s not going anywhere in a hurry (and, in fairness, with a 50cc engine, it never was going anywhere in that much of a hurry!). It’s now a permanent fixture, but even so, the counter is hand-built from scratch every morning and then broken down and packed away every evening, making what’s on offer from Tamp even more impressive.

Let’s start with the opening hours, which are long even for a coffee shop, let alone a cart. At a time when many coffee shops are shutting their doors, Tamp’s still going strong. Then there’s the merchandise: grinders, kettles, Chemex, Aeropress, V60, Clever Drippers… You don’t find that range in most coffee shops. There’s also tea from Merseyside’s Brew Tea Co and cake in the form of M’Henchas from Morocco (via the Cotswolds), occasionally supplemented by homemade cakes (via Carolyn of Sundown micro-bakery).

However, when it comes to the actual coffee, Tamp really excels. Roasting single-origin beans in-house, there’s always a choice of two beans, freshly roasted, which change on a regular basis. If you don’t fancy what’s on offer, just come back the following week, when there’ll be something else to tempt you. Alternatively there’s a wide selection of retail bags to take home with you.

When I was there, the choices were a La Bastilla washed from Nicaragua and a Phoka Hills washed from Malawi. The Nicaraguan, as described, sounded like a more traditional espresso, with chocolate/caramel notes, but I was intrigued by the sound of the Malawi, with its overtones of honey. Since I don’t come across Malawi coffee very often, I went for a flat white, offering up JOCO Cup instead of one of Tamp’s takeaway cups.

I was rewarded with a very fine flat white. The Malawi was indeed sweet (although my palate was never going to pick up honey) and it went very well with the milk, producing a lovely, smooth drink. The milk itself was excellent, beautifully steamed and holding its latte-art all the way to the bottom of the cup.

THE ORACLE GUN/MINSTER STREET • READING • RG1 2AG
www.tampculture.co
Monday 08:30 – 19:00 Roaster Tamp Culture (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:30 – 19:00 Seating Tables (outside)
Wednesday 08:30 – 19:00 Food Cake
Thursday 08:30 – 19:00 Service Counter
Friday 08:30 – 19:00 Cards Visa, Mastercard
Saturday 09:00 – 19:00 Wifi No
Sunday 11:00 – 17:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 19th December 2014

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12 thoughts on “Tamp Culture

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  12. In Lincoln, a little bicycle (strictly speaking a tricycle) on board an espresso machine, coffee grinder, coffee books to browse,and serving excellent coffee roasted locally.

    In Winchester, Jimmy Bean, served from a battered old Citroen van, wooden benches to sit on, food, soup, cakes and serving excellent coffee. Then a grave mistake, linked up with a van serving rubbish food and Jimmy Bean no more.

    Both put to shame most coffee shops.

    Tamp Coffee Culture now a kiosk. I passed by the kiosk, stopped and had a cappuccino. A mistake as was not good. Weak and insipid I half drank, then poured down the nearest drain. I am used to quality Ethiopian coffee. This was anything but.

    Baffled why they roast their coffee in Lancashire and yet their kiosk is in Reading.

    Expensive for a takeaway coffee served from a kiosk.

    Small Batch kiosk outside Brighton Station far superior to Tamp.

    FCB kiosk on Platform 2 Guildford Station also far superior.

    CUP, which I was seeking, the other side of the church, cheaper, can sit indoors in the warm, or outside if sunny and pleasant, free wifi, far superior coffee served in a ceramic cup.

Please let me know what you think