Cakesmiths is a Bristol-based cake baker of national renown, its cakes appearing in coffee shops up and down the country. Old friends of the Coffee Spot, Cakesmiths and I have a symbiotic (parasitic?) relationship: I go to coffee festivals and Cakesmiths feeds me cake… However, other than stalking Cakesmiths at festivals, you haven’t been able to get its cakes fresh from the baker’s hand, so to speak.
So, imagine my surprise and delight when, in May this year, Cakesmiths opened its very own coffee shop, called Bakesmiths, on Bristol’s Whiteladies Road. Bakesmiths, which spreads itself across two spacious, high-ceilinged floors on the corner with Aberdeen Road, calls itself a sister café to Cakesmiths. As well as Cakesmiths’ legendary tray bakes, cheesecakes and the like, Bakesmiths has an on-site bakery and kitchen where it makes all its own bread and many of the cakes, all baked fresh each day.
Add to that some fabulous espresso and bulk-brew filter coffee from the local Clifton Coffee Roasters, plus the occasional filter coffee roasted on-site, and you’re onto a winner. And that’s without mentioning the craft beer or the wine or even the all-day brunch menu, complete with specials, which magically appears at weekends.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Whiteladies Road is rapidly becoming a Bristol speciality coffee hub, Bakesmiths squeezing in just down from the Boston Tea Party and just up from Brew (which I’ve still to visit). The sadly-missed Joe’s Coffee was just around the corner and it’s not far to the excellent Tradewind Espresso. Bakesmiths is in good company then.
It’s an amazing physical space: large, spacious and with enormous, high ceilings, it’s bright and sunny inside. Sitting on a corner, windows on two sides, it’s roughly square, with the door on the corner. A variety of seating lines the windows, while on the Whiteladies Road side, the counter sits against the back wall. On the Aberdeen Road side there’s a huge kitchen at the back, visible through an open hatch, where the industrial-sized ovens take pride of place. Sour dough bread is baked here, along with the cakes, the bakers in action up until around two o’clock.
However, downstairs is dominated by the magnificent staircase in the corner opposite the door. Anything that magnificent was built to be climbed, but be prepared: the ceiling really is very high! The stairs lead, via two landings and a 270⁰ turn, to a similarly-sized upstairs area. This is divided lengthways: a seating area overlooking Whiteladies Road on the left, where the staircase deposits you, while on the right, overlooking Aberdeen Road, is the Innovation Hub. Visible through floor-to-ceiling glass doors, this is private room-for-hire, complete with its own kitchen where you can take baking lessons or watch demos.
During the week, Bakesmiths serves breakfast until noon, with lunch taking over until 2.30. This is supplemented by sandwiches, and, of course, cake, plus plenty of specials. At weekends/Bank Holidays, the brunch menu makes an appearance. I was there on a Saturday, faced with a choice of four brunch specials, chalked on menu boards hanging above the kitchen, along with two all-day hot-pressed sandwich specials (hot-pressed = toasted).
I selected the truly awesome mushrooms on toast. I may never look at mushrooms on toast in the same light again. Or order it, fearful that it shall never live up to Bakesmiths’ gold standard. I was served a large, single piece of sourdough toast, overflowing with thick, chunky slices of mushrooms, drowning in a rich, creamy stilton and herb sauce. As one of the brunch specials, it may never be chalked up again, but if it is, order it without hesitation!
Since this was Bakesmiths, I had to have cake. The usual Cakesmiths range, which I’ve sampled at numerous coffee festivals, was there in force, along with even more cake, baked in the aforementioned kitchen. I had the last slice of the chocolate layer cake, yet another special. This was rich and fudgy, quite different from the lighter loafs and slices that I’m used to from Cakesmiths.
I had a flat white made with Clifton’s Village blend. Surprisingly sweet, it was a good accompaniment to my lunch, the coffee going well with the milk. To accompany my cake, I had a cup of the single-origin bulk-brew filter, an Ethiopian Biftu Gudina. A full-bodied brew, it was on a par with many a pour-over I’ve made at home, once again teaching me not to overlook bulk-brewed filter.
As an added bonus, Bakesmiths has, tucked away under the stairs, a bright-red 1 kg Genesis CBR-1200 coffee roaster, a beast I’ve previously seen at Dorchester’s Finca. Although not quite at Finca’s output levels, Bakesmiths is getting there. The barista, Fred, roasts the occasional batch for filter, although there’s no set timetable, so you’ll need to take pot luck and see if she’s been roasting.
December 2016: Bakesmiths was a runner-up for the 2016 Best Cake Award.
|65 WHITELADIES ROAD • BRISTOL • BS8 2LY|
|https://bakesmiths.co.uk||+44 (0) 7535 607 061|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Clifton (espresso + bulk-brew filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Window-Bar|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 17:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 16:00||Power||Limited (upstairs)|
|Chain||No||Visits||20th August 2016|
If you liked this Coffee Spot, then check out the rest of Bristol’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Bristol.
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