The Speciality Coffee Shop

Michelangelo, joint-owner of The Speciality Coffee Shop, in the mirror above one of the tables.The Speciality Coffee Shop is one of a new crop of Nottingham coffee shops which sprang up this summer, having opened a mere two months before my visit in August. Occupying a corner spot at the western end of Friar Lane in the heart of the city, the Speciality Coffee Shop does what it says on the tin, except it doesn’t actually say it on the tin, the name appearing nowhere on the shop’s considerable façade.

Inside, the layout’s a masterpiece of simplicity, with the sun-drenched front home to some very comfortable-looking armchairs and a sofa. The counter is on the right, a row of tables mirroring it to the left, while at the back, two comfy chairs round things off. The whole place breathes an atmosphere of relaxed, uncluttered calm.

The brainchild of Italian couple, Michelangelo and Lucy, The Speciality Coffee Shop serves espresso-based drinks and a variety of filter options, with coffee from London’s Alchemy joined by occasional guests from around the country. There’s food in the shape of breakfast and lunch menus, with everything prepared in the kitchen in the basement, all of which is joined by a small but select range of cakes, all made by Lucy’s Grandmother.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Nottingham's Speciality Coffee Shop, with its spot at the western end of Friar Lane.
  • It's another Nottingham coffee shop without its name on display...
  • ... so you largely have to take things on trust that you have found the right place...
  • ... and head on in where the counter awaits, dead ahead.
  • It's bright and sunny at the front of the shop, where there's this sofa and pair of armchairs.
  • There's more seating, in the shape of tables along the left-hand wall opposite the counter.
  • There are three of them in all, each seating four people.
  • Finally, there are two armchairs right at the back with their own coffee table.
  • The view from the back, with the counter on one side...
  • ... and the tables on the other.
  • I was really taken by the mirrors. There is one for each table...
  • ... with views of the counter.
  • Barista at work. And what a happy barista Michelaeglo is!
  • There are also flowers on the table.
  • There's a book shelf at the back too.
  • As well as the mirrors, I was also taken with the lighting which illuminates the back.
  • This beauty hangs over the counter...
  • ... while these bulbs hang over the tables on the left.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot...
  • ... and here in more detail.
  • Last one, I promise!
  • The large counter dominates the right-hand side of the shop.
  • The coffee operation is at the far end of the counter...
  • ... while cake awaits you on the front of the counter as you come in.
  • There's a small, but interesting, selection...
  • ... particularly the Bakewell Tart.
  • The drinks menu is chalked up on the blackboard behind the counter.
  • The whiite espresso machine has pride of place in the centre of the counter.
  • While I was there, the house espresso was a blend from Alchemy.
  • Lovely latte art in a flat white. Sadly not for me.
  • To the left of the espresso machine is the filter area, with lots of pour-over options...
  • ... and a Bonita batch brewer next to the grinder for the filter.
  • There's also a retail shelf of filter equipment.
  • Meanwhile, I had a slice of the awesome Bakewell Tart...
  • ... which I paired with a syphon of the guest filter, a Nicaraguan from Ancoats Coffee Co.
  • My coffee surveys the counter.
  • I'll leave you with a reflection of a light bulb in my coffee. Kind of sums me up...
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The Speciality Coffee Shop has a relatively thin, southeast-facing front on Friar Street, and, while it goes a long way back, all the windows are at the front. One faces Friar Street itself, the door on the right, while there’s a second, narrow window at 45 degrees on the corner. The third and final window looks out to the southwest over Maid Marian Way.

As a consequence of all the windows, the front can be very bright, particularly on sunny days. The prime window spots are occupied by a pair of armchairs on the left, followed by a sofa, all with their backs to the windows. You’re not missing much though, since the view’s not that great, plus this way you are more connected to the coffee shop itself.

The counter’s directly opposite the door and runs along the right-hand wall. Constructed of what look like old wooden pallets, it is, like the rest of The Speciality Coffee Shop, a relaxed, uncluttered affair. You are greeted by the cakes, then, as you make your way around to the left, you encounter the till. Next comes the espresso machine, followed by grinders and various filter options.

Opposite this, three four-person tables project at right-angles from the wall, each with an arch-shaped mirror which adds to the sense of space. A pair of armchairs nestle against the back wall, where there’s also a door on the right which leads out to the toilet. It could be quite dark back here, but the uncluttered interior means that plenty of light gets through from the front, while there are numerous lights for when it’s dark outside. The overall sense of light and space is aided by the high ceilings and white-painted walls.

Michelangelo and Lucy moved up from London to open The Speciality Coffee Shop, although it helps that Lucy’s family is based around Nottingham. There’s a commendably concise espresso-based menu, plus a variety of filter options, starting with batch-brew. You can also have an Aeropress, V60 or Syphon, while if you don’t fancy coffee, there’s a range of loose-leaf teas and another range of what are described as “every day teas”.

I immediately had a conversation with Michelangelo, a most friendly and engaging barista, who was happy to talk me through all the options while we worked out what I wanted. The house roaster is London’s Alchemy, with a blend, Alchemy’s Elixir Version XIII in the hopper during my visit, although it’s normally a single-origin. Michelangelo also had two guests on filter, both from Manchester’s Ancoats Coffee Co. One, a Costa Rican, was available as a V60, while the other, a Nicaraguan, Michelangelo recommended as a Syphon. I went for the later, my coffee arriving in a beaker with a cup on the side, which Michelangelo poured for me after explaining some details of the farm in Nicaragua. A glass of water also appeared without me having to ask.

The coffee was wonderfully smooth and subtle, more than holding its own as it cooled. It was chosen in part to accompany the slice of Bakewell Tart which I had already ordered. This was gorgeous, with lovely, light pastry, topped with an equally light cake, between which was sandwiched a generous layer of jam, matched by an equally generous sprinkling of almonds on top.

December 2016: The Speciality Coffee Shop has won the 2016 Happiest Staff Award.

50 FRIAR LANE • NOTTINGHAM • NG1 6DQ
www.thespecialtycoffeeshop.com +44 (0) 7496 397891
Monday CLOSED Roaster Alchemy (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 17:30 Seating Tables, Sofas, Comfy Chairs
Wednesday 07:30 – 17:30 Food Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 17:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 17:30 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 10:00 – 17:30 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 17:30 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 9th August 2016

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