Coffee + Beer

The reflection of the skylight in the ceiling above, captured in my coffee at the back of Coffee + Beer in Bristol.Bristol’s coffee scene continues to expand, with new additions every time I visit. One of the most recent, Coffee + Beer, opened at the end of the June, at the bottom of Cotham Hill. A stone’s throw from Clifton Down train station and Whiteladies Road, it’s an area already replete with the likes of Tradewind Espresso, Boston Tea Party, Bakesmiths and Brew. What makes Coffee + Beer stand out in this crowded market is that is sells, well, coffee and beer…

I found out about Coffee + Beer from my friend Bristol Café Watcher, who declared the coffee to be some of the best there is. Well, with recommendations like that, you can’t really go wrong, so I popped in two weeks ago only to find that I already knew the owner, the wonderful Dan (Williams), who I met in Oxford when he was one half of Zappi’s Bike Café.

Now Dan’s in Bristol, doing his own thing, selling beer and serving excellent coffee from a range of local (and not-so-local) roasters. There’s espresso, with six single-origins on pour-over using Kalita Wave filters and Marco Beverage Systems SP9s, plus tea from Jeeves and Jericho and a small selection of cake.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • A new arrival on Bristol's Cotham Hill, the aptly-named Coffee + Beer.
  • The view of the front, from just inside the door. Like Bristol's Small St Espresso...
  • ... a deeply-recessed door creates seating areas on either side. However, Coffee + Beer...
  • ... is asymmetric. The left-hand side only has room for one, while the right seats two.
  • Window seats aside, Coffee + Beer is long and thin, with the counter on the right...
  • ... and long rows of retail shelves on the left...
  • ... beyond which is more seating.
  • The view back towards the front of the store.
  • If you don't want to sit in the windows at the front, try this spacious area at the back...
  • ... which is also very bright due to this skylight.
  • There are four of these interesting tables with low stools, two on each side.
  • One of the tables in detail.
  • They also have wheels so that they can rearranged if required.
  • A plant in the corner brings some colour to what is otherwise a very clean-cut space.
  • The opposite corner is more functional with the water station taking pride of place.
  • Heading back towards the counter, there's this curious set-up.
  • The fridge holds cold beer, but this caught my eye: a line of beer taps, bottles above.
  • The adjacent sign explains it all: the taps are there for samples. And to fill up your bottle.
  • There's a choice of six beers to choose from...
  • ... although you could just go to the other side and take something off the shelf.
  • That's a lot of beer!
  • Moving forward, you reach the coffee part of the set up, with pods and equipment...
  • ... followed by shelves of retail bags from a wide cast of roasters.
  • If you want to sample before you buy, the beans are also out in bins on the other side.
  • Each bin/bean has a detailed information sheet.
  • However, it's not all about coffee (+ beer): there's also cake if you're hungry.
  • Meanwhile, the coffee part of the operation is down the far end of the counter...
  • ... with a beautifully concise menu behind it on the wall.
  • The espresso is handled by this one-group La Marzocco G3 and its Mythos One grinder.
  • I love watching espresso extract...
  • ... although that's a better angle!
  • A classic espresso in a classic cup.
  • Like most Bristol coffee shops, Coffee + Beer uses a local dairy, in this case, Bruton Dairy.
  • Talking of milk, here's (someone else's) flat white.
  • If you want filter coffee, there's another helpful sign to explain it all.
  • Having never had anything from the local Triple Co Roast, I was keen to try its output.
  • All the filter coffee is made using Kalita Wave filters and these SP9s from Marco.
  • These automated machines make pour-overs at the touch of a button...
  • ... following a programmed set of instructions. Sadly you can't really see what's going on.
  • My resulting coffee, looking lovely in a carafe and served, as it should be...
  • ... with a cup on the side.
  • Another view of the coffee. Look at the lovely colour!
  • I'll leave you with a reflection of the skylight in my coffee.
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Coffee + Beer has been some time in the planning, the idea coming to Dan while he spent six months travelling in New Zealand, where, it seems, selling specialty coffee and craft beer is commonplace. On his return, he moved to Bristol, finding the ideal premises. After spending three months building the shop, it opened at the end of June 2017.

Before we go on, a quick word about the beer, which I’m not qualified to judge. Despite the presence of beer taps, these are strictly for sampling since Coffee + Beer only has an off-licence. So, while you’re welcome to sit in and enjoy the excellent coffee, put away any thoughts of pulling yourself a pint and settling down with it!

As a space to enjoy your coffee, Coffee + Beer is interesting. The modest shop front belies a very spacious (and long) interior. The front is mostly glass, a deeply-recessed door slightly offset to the right. Like Bristol legends, Small St Espresso, this leaves space for window alcoves, with Dan squeezing in a couple seats on the right, and another on the left, where you can rest your coffee on the broad windowsills and watch the world go by.

The shop is split neatly in two, with the long rows of retail shelves down the left, coffee first, beer (and lots of it) after that. On the right is the counter, which runs down the right-hand wall, although between it and the window is a shelf with bins of coffee beans, available either to buy or to drink in as filter coffee. Beyond the counter is a large fridge (more beer) and the aforementioned beer taps. In a nice symmetry with the coffee, there are six of these.

Right at the back, there’s another seating area occupying roughly a third of the store. Clean and uncluttered, it’s lit from above by a large, central skylight which occupies much of the ceiling. The shop tapers in slightly from the right, creating an interesting space with four small, thin four-person tables with stools. The tables are on wheels, so the furniture can easily be rearranged, into, for example, a single, central table for when Dan wants to hold a cupping.

When it comes to coffee, Dan offers a concise espresso menu using a single-group La Marzocco GS3, with just one bean on offer, which changes every 7-10 days. Alternatively, there’s the filter coffee, with an impressive selection of six beans. You can either have a cup to drink in, or Dan offers 100ml samples if you want to try before you buy. In this, Dan relies heavily on the Marco SP9s, which enable him to make consistent pour-overs without pulling him away from serving customers.

The coffee is from a range of roasters, including the local Triple Co Roast and Extract Coffee Roasters, while from further afield, there’s Round Hill Roastery, Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters and Origin. Dan tends to buy in a couple of kilos at a time before moving on and, while there are no current plans to change the cast of roasters, Dan will never say never.

I started with a lovely, juicy Panama natural, roasted by Triple Co Roast. This was great when warm, but it evolved as it cooled, bringing out more delicate flavours. As a special treat Dan will also run any of the single-origin filters as an espresso if you ask nicely. I was lucky enough to try the El Salvador, roasted by Origin. Another naturally-processed coffee, it was really juicy and interesting as an espresso, not at all what I was expecting.

16 COTHAM HILL • BRISTOL • BS6 6LF +44 (0) 117 329 3010
Monday 08:00 – 19:00 Roaster Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 19:00 Seating Tables, Window-bars
Wednesday 08:00 – 19:00 Food Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 19:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 19:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 10:00 – 19:00 Wifi No
Sunday CLOSED Power Yes
Chain No Visits 8th August 2017

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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3 thoughts on “Coffee + Beer

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