Baila Coffee & Vinyl

Detail of some of the drawing on the wall behind the bench in Baila Coffee & Vinyl, proclaiming Baila's fresh, brewed coffee and light roast espresso.Baila Coffee & Vinyl is on Swindon’s southern side, “up the hill” as the locals put it, in the part of old Swindon that actually looks and feels like a pleasant small town, rather than the post-war concrete shopping area that is the modern centre. Near the top of Victoria Road, Baila’s a coffee shop that buys/sells vinyl records rather than a record shop which serves coffee (The Keen Bean Coffee Club, for example).

As befits somewhere that’s all about vinyl (black), coffee (black too) and coffee with milk (white), the décor is predominantly black and white, with added touches of black and occasional splashes of white for variety. The floor is at least (dark) wood, as are the tables and chairs.

The coffee is from nearby Extract Coffee Roasters, with Extract’s standard espresso blend in the main hoper, plus decaf. Single origins make an appearance as filter coffee, Baila unusually utilising the Clever Dripper. There are also smoothies and loose-leaf tea.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, Baila reopens from seven in the evening until eleven as a bar, serving craft beers, gin, wine and spirits. The bar also makes an appearance from four until ten on Sunday afternoon/evening.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Baila Coffee & Vinyl, almost at the top of the hill on Victoria Road in Swindon.
  • Best A-board ever?
  • Stepping inside, you're greeted by this lovely sofa and bench in the window.
  • Another view of the sofa, with a pair of old school desks as a coffee table.
  • A panoramic view of Baila from just inside the door.
  • The seating on the left: a couple of old school desks and a large, communal table.
  • A panoramic view from the back.
  • The seating on the left, as seen from the back...
  • ... and the seating on the right: a bench running against the right-hand wall.
  • The bench has a row of five, two-person desks in front of it.
  • At the back, the counter is on the right... Mind your head, by the way!
  • The vinyl part of Baila Coffee & Vinyl is opposite the counter on the left-hand side.
  • There are shelves/bins of records for sale. Baila will also buy your vinyl.
  • Beyond the counter, stairs at the back lead up to...
  • ... a whole upper floor, which stretches away above the space behind Baila.
  • It's called Baby Baila by the way. It's actually a play area for (supervised) children.
  • There's some lovely seating up here though...
  • I loved the window seat on the right as you come in, with the packing-case coffee table.
  • The children, meanwhile, are safely fenced off!
  • The view from the play area, looking back towards the seating.
  • Time to go back downstairs, where there's this water station by the records.
  • I was particularly taken by the drawings/slogans on the right-hand wall behind the bench...
  • ... which stretch from counter to door....
  • ... where there's this useful community notice board...
  • ... and an amazing clock.
  • The other wall is decorated with old LP covers.
  • Nice light bulb.
  • There is also a set of shelves with games and books.
  • A coffee sack also graces the wall.
  • In the evenings, Baila Coffee & Vinyl turns into Baila Bar!
  • Anyway, down to business and the lovely, tiled counter at the back.
  • Baila is true to its vinyl nature with this record player on the corner.
  • The Best of Otis Redding is on the turntable...
  • ... and yes, it was playing!
  • There's a decent selection of cake on display on the counter...
  • ... while the menu is chalked up on the wall at the back.
  • The aforementioned loose-leaf tea.
  • Meanwhile, some details on the espresso blend from Extract Coffee.
  • Just in case you had forgotten where the coffee is roasted.
  • The red Sanremo is a little at odds with the black and white colour scheme!
  • I started my day with a lovely flat white.
  • The milk was particularly well-steamed, holding the pattern well.
  • It took me about half an hour to drink it and it held the pattern right to end.
  • I followed it up with a single-origin bean through the Clever Dripper, served at my table.
  • When the timer goes off, just place the dripper on the glass and, voila! The coffee is served.
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Baila cuts an instantly-recognisable and rather austere figure, its black-and-white façade making no compromises in representing its twin passions, coffee and vinyl. The black and white theme continues inside, broken only by the red leather sofa in the window, just to the left of the door, and the bright-red Sanremo espresso machine facing you on the counter at the opposite end of the room. Except that all you can see is the Sanremo’s back, a single, burnished sheet of metal, forming an effective mirror. It is, however, red. I promise.

The layout is simple: a long, low rectangle stretching back from a single window at the front. The door’s on the right, the aforementioned sofa in the window, facing into the store. It has a two old school desks serving as a coffee table and an L-shaped bench opposite. Beyond it, on the left-hand side, two old school desks sit next to a shelf of books and games, followed by a six-person communal table.

On the right is a notice board and small table with magazines just inside the door, then a long wooden bench with five two-person tables runs along the wall. This ends abruptly against the white-tiled wall of the counter which occupies the back right-hand third of Baila, the aforementioned Sanremo facing the door from the end of the L-shaped counter. A turntable perches on the corner, slowly spinning away, followed by a small selection of cake, then the till.

Opposite the counter is the vinyl part of Baila, boxes of LPs that probably look very strange to anyone under the age of 30… Baila will happily buy your old vinyl, or you can buy anything that takes your fancy.

It’s very subdued inside, a few light bulbs supplementing the natural light from the relatively small window, which is very much in keeping with overall décor/atmosphere. However, if you’re looking for something more lively/brighter, head past the counter where you’ll find stairs up to Baby Baila, a children’s play area in a loft space, with some lovely seating for the (supervising) adults.

Back downstairs, I started with a flat white, using Extract’s house-blend. Lovely and smooth, coffee and milk were in perfect harmony, not too sweet, with the creamy and superbly-steamed milk holding the latte art to the bottom of the cup. It took me a good half hour to finish, and it was as good at the end as it was at the start. The unhomogenized milk, by the way, is from a local herd at Berkeley Farm, Wroughton.

Baila, however, really scores when it comes to filter coffee. I had a choice of three single-origins, Guatemalan, Kenyan and my selection, a Tanzanian, all from Extract. Baila uses the Clever Dripper, a combination immersion brew/filter method. However, rather than make the coffee behind the counter, once the dripper’s been filled up, it’s brought to your table on a slate, with a glass and a timer. When the timer expires (after three minutes), you put the dripper on your glass and the coffee filters through. Talk about bringing the theatre of filter coffee to the customer!

The coffee itself was lovely, a really juicy, rich, well-balanced brew, that, like the flat white, was just as good during the last sip as it had been at the first.

December 2015: Baila was a runner-up for the 2015 Coffee Spot Award for Best Filter Coffee.

85 VICTORIA ROAD • SWINDON • SN1 3RW
www.bailacoffeeandvinyl.com +44 (0) 7894 859051
Monday 09:00 – 16:30 Roaster Extract (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Sofa, Bench
Wednesday 08:00 – 17:00 Food Cake, Panini
Thursday 08:00 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 17:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 08:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 16:30 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 22nd September 2015

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6 thoughts on “Baila Coffee & Vinyl

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  2. I’d’ve liked a closer look at that craggy-peaked loaf cake. Curious as to what it was -and what range is offered (important details! Some are better suited to coffee, others to tea, etc…).
    I nearly missed this one somehow. But now that upstairs window seat is MINE.
    A whole-hearted YES to this post and spot, but absolute first place on the Good Things list? Local. Unhomogenised. Milk.

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