Laynes Espresso, on New Station Street, has long been my go-to spot in Leeds, ever since my first visit in the summer of 2014, particularly if I was arriving/leaving by train at Leeds Station, which is literally around the corner. This is the original Laynes Espresso, one of the pioneers of speciality coffee in Leeds. It used to be a small, cosy spot, a few seats fighting the counter for space upstairs, while an equally cosy basement provided overspill seating or a refuge in the winter.
However, towards the end of 2016, Laynes had the opportunity to take over the adjacent space to the right of the original shop. Laynes knocked through both upstairs and down, creating a new coffee shop which is almost unrecognisable from the old one. Gone is the small, cosy spot, replaced by something three times the size, the upstairs transformed into a bright, spacious coffee shop and kitchen, while in the basement, the transformation has been equally striking.
The coffee is still from Square Mile, with Red Brick on espresso and a single-origin pour-over. However, with the extra space comes an expanded menu and an increased focus on food, including an awesome all-day breakfast/brunch menu.
You can see what I made of the new Laynes after the gallery.
Over the years, Laynes expanded to include Belgrave Hall, the (relatively short-lived) Sheaf Street Canteen and a pop-up in Leeds Dock (neither of which I managed to visit). However, with the expansion at New Station Street, Laynes returned its focus to the original which is, for now, the only branch.
If you remember the original Laynes, it’s at once familiar and yet unrecognisable post-expansion. Much of the left-hand side, which was the original space, is unchanged, except that the wall to the right has been knocked through to the adjoining space, creating a large, bright, open coffee shop to replace the small, cosy one that was there before. The new space, on the right, contains the bulk of the seating, has its own front door, and, at the back, a large, open kitchen where all the food is prepared.
Down in the basement, the change is even more radical. This too has been knocked through to the adjacent basement, but also completely remodelled. Again, the small, cosy (and slightly claustrophobic) basement has been replaced with two large, open spaces, in the process probably trebling the number of seats.
There have been other changes, including the provision of power outlets, particularly down in the basement, and the addition of Wifi, although not at the weekends, when Laynes can be really busy. The only change I regret is the replacement of the gloriously-tiled upstairs floor with large, grey flagstones. These are rather lovely in their own way and would grace many a coffee shop with their presence. However, I remember what went before. The good news is that the basement has retained its original tiled floor.
The other major change is in the food. Building on the expertise gained first through weekend brunches at Belgrave Hall and then at Sheaf Street and various pop-ups, Laynes is as much, if not more, about food as it is about coffee. In a refreshing change, where most places have menus that are mostly meat-based with some vegetarian options, I’d say that Laynes’ menu is 80% vegetarian, mixing the usual staples (toast, porridge, avocado on toast) with some more innovative dishes (grilled parmesan polenta cake and shakshuka). Meat lovers, if desperate, can always order a side of bacon.
Naturally, when I returned to the newly-expanded Laynes, I had to try the new menu. I was torn for choice but ended up with the Laynes breakfast, a gargantuan feast that set me up for the rest of the day. Two slices of gorgeous sourdough toast were topped with braised beans (think baked beans but nicer) and a perfectly-poached egg, with whole roast cherry tomatoes and shallots around the edge. The beans were covered with melted Mayfield cheese, while I had a grilled Portobello mushroom instead of the menu’s chestnut & lemon patty. An instant contender this year’s Coffee Spot Best Breakfast Award!
That was never going to be enough, so I returned two days later for breakfast, having the Morel Mushroom Florentine with a side of sourdough toast. This too was awesome, with the mushrooms in particular bursting with flavour and the egg poached to perfection. Served on a slice of soft brioche bread, it was pretty much perfect.
When it came to coffee, I played it safe on my first visit with a flat white. This was pretty much as expected, Square Mile’s Red Brick going well with the milk. However, on my return, I had a V60 of the Janachute, a rich, juicy brew that made a nice change. I can see Laynes remaining my go-to spot for many years to come on this showing.
|16 NEW STATION STREET • LEEDS • LS1 5DL|
|www.laynesespresso.co.uk||+44 (0) 7828 823189|
|Monday||07:00 – 19:00||Roaster||Square Mile (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 19:00||Seating||Tables, Bars; Benches (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 19:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Sandwiches, Cake|
|Thursday||07:00 – 19:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 19:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||09:00 – 18:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||Original: 19th/20th June 2014, 20th May 2016|
|Update: 26th/28th August 2017|
If you liked this Coffee Spot, then check out the rest of Leeds’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Leeds.
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