Lemana, in Lymington, just outside the New Forest, has been a favourite of mine since my first visit in November 2013. A friendly, family-run, community-based café in a small town, it had excellent food and outstanding cakes, plus one of the warmest welcomes you’ll find. The only thing I didn’t rave about was the coffee.
However, when I heard on twitter that Lemana had started serving coffee from Staffordshire legends, Has Bean, my ears perked up. A return visit was quickly pencilled in as part of my annual trip to Naish, just along the coast from Lymington (which, contrary to my initial belief, is in Hampshire, not Dorset).
The switch to Has Bean is the most obvious of the changes, which have included taking a range of loose-leaf tea from Dorchester’s Gilded Teapot. Fortunately the warm welcome, excellent food and outstanding cakes remain, while other changes have been more subtle.
You can see what I found after the gallery.
Lemana is family run, but big sister Rachel, who founded it in 2010, only works part-time, having recently embarked on a new project. These days, Rachel’s sister Natalie is the face of Lemana, working behind the counter as a full-time barista. However, her sisters and little brother all work there at least one day a week, as well as their mum, dad, nephew and niece. I gave up counting exactly how many family members that made when I ran out of fingers to count on (I didn’t think Natalie would appreciate me taking my shoes and socks off).
The switch to Has Bean came around five months ago, following a visit to the roastery. Along with the change of beans (Lemana now uses the ubiquitous Jailbreak Blend), there’s a corresponding change in drink sizes. Lemana used to have two or three sizes per drink, but now there’s just a 6oz flat white and 10oz latte/cappuccino, the change driven by a desire to taste the coffee rather than have it drowned it milk. Natalie said that it took people a little while to get used to it, but now they are definitely converted.
Naturally, I had to try it, starting with a lovely flat white. I haven’t had Jailbreak in a long time, forgetting how well it goes with milk. I then tried it on its own, finding it surprisingly fruity, given how smooth it had been in milk.
Lemana was always known for its excellent cakes, so naturally these had to be sampled too. Fortunately, they’re as amazing as ever. My friend was very impressed by his Oreo brownie, while I had a huge slice of the superb lemon sponge, which was light, fluffy and not too sweet (and also what I had on my previous visit). We also had lunch, in my case a sea-salt and rosemary flat bread with beetroot, caramelised red onion and goat’s cheese, which was excellent. In fact, we were so impressed, we returned the following Monday for an early lunch (which we had from the breakfast menu, served until 11.30). I, of course, had Eggs Florentine, with a lovely, creamy hollandaise sauce and beautifully-poached eggs, while my American friend had the full English and my English friend had the American blueberry pancake stack…
One of the more subtle changes, which I only noticed from the Lemana website, is the change of name from Lemana Café to Lemana Coffee & Kitchen. It might not seem much, but it’s definitely a statement of intent in my opinion, showing a subtle shift of emphasis.
I chatted about this with Natalie, who told me that Lemana’s planning to cut down the menu. There’ll be fewer Panini, baguettes, etc, run-of-the-mill things that Lymington is not exactly short of. Instead there’ll be more specials, with a focus on quality and local produce. This reflects the “kitchen” part of the name, and is a neat parallel with the evolution in the coffee, which again emphasises quality, not quantity. A similar shift can be seen in the tea, with a move to a wide range of loose-leaf tea from Dorchester’s Gilded Teapot. Although Lemana’s not yet carrying the full range of teas, it’s proving very popular.
Looks like I’ll have to pop back in another year to see what else has changed (acutally it was three years)!
There’s a full write-up of Lemana Coffee & Kitchen, including a complete gallery, in its main entry, which has been updated after my visit in November 2018. You can also see what I made of it in the original Lemana Coffee Spot from February 2014.
|24B HIGH STREET • LYMINGTON • SO41 9AD|
|www.lemana.co.uk||+44 (0) 1590 677712|
|Monday||09:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Has Bean (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||09:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Tables outside|
|Wednesday||09:00 – 17:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||09:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||09:00 – 17:00||Cards||Visa, Mastercard|
|Saturday||08:30 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 16:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||Original: 21st November 2013|
|Updates: 19th November 2015, 23rd November 2018|
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