Repack Espresso

The Repack Espresso logo, a stylised outline of the mountain-biking track it's named after above the words "repack espresso" in lower case.It’s all well and good, visiting the historic sites of the wonderful city of Bath and trying all its fantastic Coffee Spots, but if you never leave the centre, you’re missing out. Head west for about a mile along Upper Bristol Road, north of the Avon, and you’ll come to the delightful Repack Espresso, one of the more recent additions to Bath’s growing coffee scene.

Repack’s lovely, very much the epitome of a neighbourhood Coffee Spot, and a labour of love for owner, head-barista, chief-bottle-washer and all-round good guy, Jonathon. Jonathon, who hails from nearby Wells, originally worked at Bath Spa University, a couple of miles further out. However, he’s another who found inspiration at the counter at Colonna & Small’s and gave up a career in university administration to set up his own coffee shop.

There’s not a lot to Repack, just enough space for a few seats, all clustered around the counter and its shiny Kees van der Westen espresso machine, a worthy centrepiece of any quality coffee shop. The house espresso is from nearby Round Hill Roastery, with regularly-rotating guest espressos and filters from the likes of Cornwall’s Origin, plus Nude Espresso and Square Mile from London.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On Upper Bristol Road, heading into Bath, you come across this unexpected sight...
  • And if you're heading out of Bath in the direction of Bristol, it looks like this...
  • Informative A-board...
  • Pictorial A-board. Any guesses?
  • Okay, enough standing around in the rain. Let's get inside.
  • A panorama taken from just inside and to the right of the door, with friendly host Jonathon.
  • The view towards the window from besides the counter, with seating either side of the door.
  • There's this little table to the left of the door as you come in, plus (out of shot) a window bar.
  • The only other table in the front of Repack is opposite the counter, against the left-hand wall.
  • You can get three people around it if you want to.
  • Behind it, opposite the counter, is this rack of bits and bobs...
  • .. and beyond that, in the corner at the back on the left, there's this little nook.
  • It's got a two-person table and all the power sockets...
  • ... plus this three-person bar against the back wall.
  • The view from the nook, back towards the front of Repack...
  • So, down to business and that can only mean the beautiful Kees van der Westen Triplette.
  • The commendably concise menu.
  • The coffee (and toast) corner.
  • The tasting notes for the various beans on offer are helpfully hand-written on clipboards!
  • There's also cake, but it's a little shy and hides beneath the plastic cover.
  • Finally, Jonathon manages to coax it out into the open.
  • Right, time for Jonathon to make me some coffee...
  • The many faces of Jonathon: I'm calling this one 'contemplation'.
  • This one could be 'are you sure about that?'...
  • ... while I think this one is saying 'seriously, I have to make coffee?'
  • Finally, we're underway and Jonathon mans the controls of the Triplette.
  • I'm having a flat white, so next comes the pouring of the milk.
  • I love watching a good latte artist at work. The milk looks so rich and creamy.
  • Watching how the pattern is built up fascinates me.
  • Another blob is added to the picture...
  • ... then the straight pour through the middle gives it structure.
  • And we're done!
  • It tasted as beautiful as it looked.
  • I followed this up with a single shot of espresso. Very smooth.
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A small parade of shops on the Upper Bristol Road is not where you’d expect to find a top-quality coffee shop, but nevertheless, that’s where Repack Espresso is. Its understated grey colour scheme, with grey-on-grey writing, blended effortlessly with the grey, cloud-ridden day that I was there, meaning it didn’t stand out much. Only the twin A-boards and three yellow, plastic stools outside on the pavement gave me a hint of its existence.

However, once found, you’re in for a treat. Occupying a typical, small shop front, Repack Espresso has a recessed glass door between two generous windows. Even on the gloomy day I was there, this made it bright inside, helped by the whitewashed walls and ceilings, which complement the wooden floor.

Inside, you’re immediately greeted by the counter, a chipboard affair, occupying much of the right-hand side of Repack. It’s L-shaped, the Kees van der Westen Triplette sitting on the long part of the L, facing the left-hand wall, and cake and till facing the window on the short side. The menu is conveniently on the wall to the right with plenty of room in front of the counter where you can stand to chat with Jonathon while you order.

The bay window in front of the counter is occupied by a small, square table. On the other side of the door, there’s a window bar, with a pair of stools, and, along the left-hand wall, opposite the espresso machine, is another small, square table, this time with room for three people. Beyond this, a little nook right at the back on the left-hand side holds a third small table, plus a bar against the back wall. If you wanted to keep out of the way to work, this is the place to go.

In all, Repack probably seats 12, although even then it wouldn’t feel particularly full, such is the spacing of the tables.

Repack uses Round Hill as the “house” espresso, which is, in fact, a regularly-rotated single-origin bean. This is paired with a guest espresso, which wasn’t actually on for my visit, the previous guest, from Origin, having just finished, while Jonathon was waiting for a delivery from Nude Espresso. There are regularly-rotating guests on filter (a Costa Rican from Origin during my visit).

However, I’d come for something from the Kees van der Westen, so tried the “house” (Round Hill’s Ethiopian Kebado) as a flat white. This was very smooth, the coffee going well with the milk, which itself was beautifully-steamed. Keen to try it on its own, I had a single split-shot, sharing it with Ben, a customer from Cambridge, who reckoned that it tasted completely different from a double shot. I found it very smooth, with a back-of-the-mouth feel, although feeling it lacked a bit of body (I also tried it later that day as an Aeropress at Society Café).

There’s also hot chocolate from Origin, tea from Alchemist’s Tea of Wells, with cake/bread from Bristol’s Cakesmiths, Bath’s The Thoughtful Bread Company and old friends, Exeter’s Exploding Bakery.

Finally, if you are wondering about the name, Repack is a mountain-bike dirt-track in Marin County, just north of San Francisco. Jonathon, a keen mountain-biker, would love to forge more links with the local cycling community, but there’s not enough space at the moment, although there is a bike rack outside for those who cycle to Repack.

2 CORK PLACE • UPPER BRISTOL ROAD • BATH • BA1 3BB
http://repackespresso.com
Monday 07:40 – 14:30 Roaster Round Hill (espresso) + Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:40 – 14:30 Seating Tables x 3, Bar x 2, Stools (outside)
Wednesday 07:40 – 14:30 Food Cakes, Toast, Sandwiches
Thursday 07:40 – 16:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:40 – 16:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:30 – 14:30 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday CLOSED Power Yes
Chain No Visits 13th October 2014

You can see what fellow coffee blogger Alison made of Repack Espresso when she visited as part of her South West Tour.


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