Coffeesmith

Detail from the A-board outside Coffeesmith in Witney: the word 'Coffeesmith' written in an outline, cursive scriptAs I have noted before, Witney is not necessarily where you’d expect to find top-notch coffee shop. Impressive, then, that it’s home to several excellent places, including Coffeesmith, which was Witney’s first speciality coffee shop. These days Coffeesmith is part of a small chain of independent coffee shops, which include an old inn and an outpost in the Lake District, although this is where it all started just to the east of Witney’s Market Square on a quiet, pedestrianised street.

Occupying a simple, open space, with plenty of seats and a cluster of tables outside, Coffeesmith is a welcoming spot which attracts a wide-ranging local clientele, as well as the occasional passing coffee blogger. However, it’s far from the average café, with coffee from Origin on espresso and pour-over through V60/Aeropress. There’s also tea, hot chocolate, juices, smoothies and beer. If you’re hungry, the brunch menu features the likes of toast, porridge, bacon butties and various bagels and grilled sandwiches. If you fancy something less bread-based, there’s soup and salads, plus an ever-changing range of interesting specials chalked up above the counter. All of this is backed up with a range of cakes, while there’s fresh sourdough bread for sale.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On the quiet, pedestrianised Langdale Gate in Witney, you'll find Coffeesmith.
  • I think that the A-board says it all.
  • The view from just inside the door, which is on the right-hand side.
  • The view back towards the door and the large window which occupies the front.
  • Most of the seating is along the left-hand wall...
  • ... starting with this recessed sofa to the left of the window, complete with coffee table.
  • Next comes a row of four two-person tables lining a bench along the brick wall.
  • The tables, as seen from the other side.
  • There are two tables pushed together to form a six-seat table in the centre of the room.
  • Another view of the tables in the centre of the room.
  • There are two more two-person tables against the right-hand wall.
  • The counter, meanwhile, is at the back on the left...
  • .. with one more table tucked away in an alcove down the right-hand sde of the counter.
  • Both walls of Coffeesmith are lined with pictures. These are on the right-hand wall...
  • ... and look to me like old posters.
  • Meanwhile, the ones on the left-hand wall are definitely posters!
  • Other nice touches include the flowers on the tables...
  • ... and the weird mug-tree on the counter which is used for the water glasses.
  • Coffeesmith also sells loaves of bread, available from these baskets by the door.
  • Anyway, down to business. A view of the counter from my table on the right...
  • ... and the view you get as a customer apporaching head-on.
  • The cakes are all displayed on the right-hand side in this old glass display case...
  • ... while around to the right are some retail shelves selling bags of coffee...
  • ... and various bits of pieces of coffee kit.
  • The menus are displayed on blackboards above the counter, with food on the left...
  • ... and specials and drinks on the right.
  • Meanwhile the coffee choices are displayed on the wall on the left.
  • If you don't fancy coffee, there's a wide range of herbal teas on offer.
  • However, my eye was drawn to the three-group La Marzocco Strada behind the counter.
  • I started with a decaf flat white on my first visit in October.
  • Nice latte art...
  • ... which lasted almost to the bottom of the cup.
  • On my return just before Christmas, I had a flat white, caffeinated this time.
  • I think the coffee (Origin's Resolute blend) was particularly fresh that day!
  • I coupled this with a toasted tea cake, complete with butter and jam.
  • I rounded things off with an Aeropress of the San Fermin from Colombia.
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Coffeesmith is not somewhere you are likely to stumble upon by accident, tucked away as it is to the east of Witney’s Market Square, at the southern end of town. There’s plenty of (free) parking and, if you’re on public transport, it’s easy enough to get to/from Oxford on the frequent bus service.

Two large, south-facing windows look out onto the pedestrianised Langdale Gate which links the Market Square with a large car park to the east. The windows are broad enough to accommodate three round, two-person tables in front of them, while the door is recessed at a 45⁰ angle to the right. This opens into a simple space, with the seating at the front and the counter at the back on the left, with the kitchen and coffee-making areas stretching out behind it. It’s a lovely space, with a stone-tiled floor and (mostly) white-washed walls/ceiling, decorated by posters, many of them from the USA.

The seating starts directly ahead of the door with a pair of two-person tables against the right-hand wall. Meanwhile there’s a pair of small, square tables pushed together in centre to form a single, six-person table. The majority of the seating is on the left, against a lovely, exposed brick wall, starting with a padded sofa next to the window, with two stools and a coffee table. A padded bench runs along the wall between sofa and counter, with four two-person tables and power outlets underneath.

The counter is quite narrow, with enough space for the cakes (right), tea (left), and till (in the centre). Off to the right of the counter, a large space gives access to the toilets. There’s a single, high, round table back here, up against the right-hand side of the counter, the ideal spot to perch if you want to chat with the baristas and/or watch the espresso extracting on the three-group Strada.

I visited Coffeesmith twice, first in October, then just before Christmas (which is when I took all the photos). Coffeesmith used to use Modern Standard, but recently switched to Origin, with the Resolute blend on espresso, along with decaf, while two single-origins are offered as filter options through V60 or Aeropress. One of these is usually from Origin, with the other a guest roaster. When I was there in December, the two options were a San Fermin Colombian from Origin and an Ethiopian Guji from Round Hill Roastery.

There’s a very simple coffee menu with white/black/cappuccino/latte all offered at one price and with the flat white 20p dearer. I had an excellent decaf flat white on my original visit in October, while on my return, I had a caffeinated one, which was rich and creamy. Sadly I was too late on both occasions for breakfast and/or lunch, so had to make do with a toasted tea cake. This was fabulous and served with a big slab of butter and a pot of blackcurrant jam (I could also have had strawberry or raspberry).

I decided to round things off with a filter coffee, the barista recommending the San Fermin as an Aeropress. This was interesting, a rich, dark tasting coffee with lots of body that I wasn’t expecting, normally associating more delicate flavours with the Aeropress. That said, it was surprisingly fruity and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

1 LANGDALE GATE • WITNEY • OX28 6FG
www.coffeesmithwitney.com +44 (0) 1993 704443
Monday 09:00 – 17:00 Roaster Origin + Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 09:00 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Sofa, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 09:00 – 17:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 09:00 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 09:00 – 17:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with login)
Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 Power Limited
Chain National Visits 2nd October, 21st December 2017

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