Ue Coffee Roasters True Artisan Café & Store

An Ethiopian Aramo, made through the Chemex, served in one of Ue Coffee Roasters' excellent cups.Today’s Coffee Spot, Ue Coffee Roasters True Artisan Café & Store, in Witney, has the longest name of any coffee shop I’ve visited. Ue is, to my knowledge, the UK’s only wood-fired roaster, a rare breed which includes Speckled Ax in Portland (Maine). I first came across Ue back in 2014, when I visited Oxford for a feature in Caffeine Magazine. Based in nearby Witney, I came out to see the roastery, but back then there wasn’t much of a coffee scene in the town itself.

Fast forward 3+ years and how things have changed. Witney boasts several places worthy of a visit, including Eden Café and Coffeesmith, which were joined, in December 2016, by Ue’s True Artisan Café & Store. Unsurprisingly, the café serves as a showcase for Ue’s considerable output, with a house-blend and guest on espresso, and multiple single-origins (eight while I was there) on filter, through Aeropress, Chemex or V60. There’s also a range of loose-leaf tea from sister company Jeeves & Jericho, with a selection of sausage rolls and cake if you’re hungry. All of the coffee and tea, plus loads of gear, is available to buy, which covers the “store” part of the name.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Towards the north end of Witney High Street, you'll come across this...
  • It's Ue Coffee Roasters True Artisan Cafe & Store!
  • I agree!
  • Let's go in, shall we?
  • There's a bench outside, which is mirrored inside by this four-person window-bar.
  • Meanwhile, the rest of the cafe stretches into the distance, counter on the right...
  • ... and retail shelves on the left (the 'Store' part of the name).
  • The shelves start at the floor, going all the way to the ceiling. The coffee is at the front...
  • ... while the tea is towards the back.
  • There's plenty of choice: here, for example, is a selection of Ue's coffee...
  • ... while there's an equally impressive range of coffee-making equipment.
  • The tea's from Ue's sister-company, Jericho & Jeeves. Once again, there's the tea itself...
  • ... as well as tea-making equipment, such as these fine teapots.
  • Finally, we have reached the end of the retail shelves!
  • Next, more seating, starting with these two-person tables along the left-hand wall...
  • ... followed by, along the back wall, these two four-person tables.
  • There's a door in the back right-hand corner, leading to a staff area...
  • ... while there's a water & takeaway station against the right-hand wall at the back...
  • ... which brings us to the top of the counter, and two neat barstools.
  • The takeaway station is worth a closer look, particularly with its decor.
  • There's this old-fashioned Russian telephone on the wall...
  • ... while this old gas-mask has been pressed into service as a light-fitting.
  • Talking of which, there's plenty of excellent lighting on display, particularly at the back.
  • Me, trying to get arty.
  • There are also the obligatory bare bulbs...
  • ... while these angle-poise lamps illuminate the retail shelves.
  • The flowers in the window are a nice touch...
  • ... as is this Corinthian column, which feels like it's part of the original building.
  • Nice cups!
  • Going back to the door, this is what greets you as you enter.
  • The food is displayed at the front of the counter...
  • ... while this old bath tub has been re-purposed to display the soft drinks.
  • There are sausage rolls if you want something savoury...
  • ... while there are several cakes if you want something sweet.
  • Moving on, you order at the till (that's Edwin, by the way)...
  • ... where you will find the menu helpfully displayed on the wall behind the counter.
  • Next comes the two espresso grinders and the Strada espresso machine.
  • Finally, there's the EK-43 grinder for filter/retail and the pour-over area.
  • The boiler is at the far end, which is where you can perch on one of the two barstools.
  • The pour-over area doubles as a tea station, the tea kept on the wall behind the counter.
  • Okay, let's put Edwin to work.
  • The EK-43 grinds the filter coffee, while the stack of wooden trays are used for serving.
  • Edwin made me a Chemex of the Ethiopian Aramo. Step one, rinse the filter paper.
  • Step two, add the ground coffee.
  • Then comes the first pour to allow the coffee to bloom.
  • Edwin believes in giving the coffee a good stir at this point.
  • The coffee is then left to bloom a little...
  • ... before the main pour. This is one single, continuous pour, with no stirring.
  • Once the desired weight is achieved, the coffee is left to filter through.
  • The presentation of the coffee is excellent, served on a wooden tray.
  • The coffee is poured in a carafe, with a cup on the side and a glass of water.
  • The tray itself is also a thing of beauty.
  • I'll leave you with my coffee cup.
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This is the first of two (for now) Ue coffee shops in Witney, with the second recently opening on Market Square at the town’s southern end. In contrast, the True Artisan Café & Store is all the way at the other end of town, at the High Street’s northern end (perhaps a five-minute walk if you stop to admire the views along the way). You’ll find it on the east side of the street, a large square window on the left, door on the right, a single bench on the pavement beneath the window.

The café is long and thin, with a high ceiling. A four-person window-bar runs the full width of the window, while the glorious counter’s on the right, set back a little from the door. Opposite, long rows of retail shelves, running floor-to-ceiling, disappear into the distance, giving way to more seating at the back. An L-shaped bench runs along the left-hand wall from shelving’s end to the back wall, then along the back wall, stopping only for a door in the back right-hand corner. There are three two-person tables on the left, with two four-person tables at the back. The only other seating is at the counter’s far end, two barstools letting you perch to watch the pour-overs being made.

Almost everything is wood, including the counter, furniture, floorboards and the right-hand wall. The exceptions are the left-hand wall, which is plastered, and the walls around the seating, which is exposed brick. The counter itself is gorgeous, running maybe three-quarters of the length of the café, with a curved section at the front, holding the cake/food. Then comes the till, followed by the two espresso grinders and the La Marzocco Strada espresso machine. Finally, at the back is the EK-43 grinder for the filter coffee and retail sales, followed by the pour-over area. Another curve at the back provides the spot for the two stools. This really is a great place to sit and chat with the friendly baristas and watch the coffee being made.

While there is plenty of natural light at the front, the lighting at the back, where most of the seating is, can best be described as subdued, giving it a very cosy feel. In fact, with the exposed brick and copious amounts of wood, it could have been designed with me in mind!

Since this was Ue, I challenged my barista, Edwin, to surprise me. Without missing a beat, he suggested a Chemex of the Ethiopian Aramo, which he described as one of the sweetest coffees he’d ever had. As beans, it smelled amazingly sweet and it was beautifully presented, on a wooden tray, served in a carafe with a cup on the side, complete with glass of distilled water.

Initially I was a little disappointed, since the coffee wasn’t as sweet in the cup, but once I had accepted it for what it was, rather than what I’d expected it to be, it really grew on me. Evolving and improving as it cooled, it was a very rich, intense, fruity coffee.

Edwin used a relatively short ratio of water to coffee (12:1) with a long brew time (4½ minutes). After discussing this with me, Edwin made me another Chemex, this time using a coarser grind to achieve a three-minute brew time. The result, while recognisably the same coffee, was sweeter but thinner. While I enjoyed it, I preferred the first one. However, it too evolved and improved as it cooled, to the point where I preferred it over the first one when it was cool. Wonderful, complex stuff, coffee.

62A HIGH STREET • WITNEY • OX28 6HJ
www.uecoffeeroasters.com +44 (0) 1993 706767
Monday 09:00 – 16:30 Roaster Roaster (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 09:00 – 16:30 Seating Tables, Window Bar, Bench (outside)
Wednesday 09:00 – 16:30 Food Cakes, Sausage Rolls
Thursday 09:00 – 16:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 09:00 – 16:30 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 15:00 Power Yes
Chain Local Visits 2nd October 2017

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