Alma Coffee Roastery

A lovely cappuccino, made with the medium-roast Soulmate from the family farm in Honduras, roasted and served in my HuskeeCup at Alma Coffee Roastry in Canton, Georgia.Exactly three weeks ago today, Amanda and I set off to drive from Atlanta, Georgia to Portland, Maine, a three-day journey that would take us through some lovely scenery along sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway. However, before we got there, we stopped at Alma Coffee Roastery, a chance discovery which we made while planning the route. It’s on Holly Springs Parkway, which runs parallel to I-575, connecting Woodstock in the south and Canton to the north.

The roastery, which doubles as a coffee shop, is just off the parkway on the left as you drive north, with clear signage and plenty of parking, although there’s no public transport access. A generous outdoor seating area stands in front of the roastery, while inside, a neat coffee shop with a handful of tables occupies the right-hand side of the large roastery building.

Alma Coffee specialises in Honduran coffee, much of it from the owners’ family farms. You can buy any of the roastery’s output in retail bags, while Soulmate, a medium-roast washed coffee, is available through a concise espresso-based menu, along with various iced versions. Alma Coffee only serves in disposable cups, so don’t forget to bring your own.

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The Roastery at Cobham

The Rwanda Bwenda, a naturally-processed coffee, which was prepared through the V60 and served in a double-walled glass cup at The Roastery in Cobham.Three weeks ago today, all of my pre-flight checks complete, I was ready for to fly to Atlanta. However, I had one final thing to do before I left for the airport: visit The Roastery at Cobham, home to Copper Coffee Roasters. Despite being located just along the A3 from Guildford, Copper’s was a chance discovery that I only found out about when I visited Nikki’s in Weybridge. In my defence, Copper’s is a relatively new addition to the area, having opened in March 2020, just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Occupying one of several old barns at Bramley Hedge Farm, The Roastery at Cobham is both a roastery (as the name would suggest) and a coffee shop. It’s a little unusual in that it’s only open in the mornings, with Monday being the best day if you want to catch the roaster in action. The offering’s simple, with a single option on espresso (usually one of the blends) and any of the roastery’s many single-origins as a pour-over using the V60. You can also have tea and hot chocolate, while on any day except Monday, there’s a selection of cakes and pastries from McLaren Fine Foods in Weybridge.

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Mini Beans Coffee, Crewe Market Hall

A lovely flat white, made with the bespoke house blend at Mini Beans Coffee and served in my HuskeeCup.Mini Beans Coffee, a chance Instagram discovery, is located inside Crewe’s Victorian Market Hall. It joins a long, distinguished list of market-based coffee stalls, following in the footsteps of the likes of Pumphreys  Brewing Emporium in Granger Market in Newcastle and Atkinsons in Mackie Mayor just up the M6 in Manchester.

Mini Beans opened in May, a founding tenant of the newly-refurbished Market Hall, which reopened at the same time. Occupying a double unit at the front on the right-hand side, it offers a bespoke house-blend from Limini Coffee on espresso, with a regularly-changing guest roaster on batch brew, plus a small selection of tea. There’s also breakfast (toast, teacakes, porridge and almond croissants), plus afternoon tea and a selection of cakes.

Either order at the counter before taking your drinks to any of the Market Hall’s many tables or order online with the option for collection or table delivery. Note, however, that Mini Beans currently only offers disposable cups, so if you bring your own, don’t forget to order in person at the counter.

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NewGround Coffee Roastery & Coffee Shop

A box the Worka Wuri, the surprise coffee I was served at NewGround Roastery and Coffee Shop in Oxford. From Ethiopia, it's a washed heirloom coffee with tasting notes of Earl grey, lemon and elderflower, roasted five days before my visit.Oxford’s NewGround Coffee began in 2018, although I only became aware of it earlier this year when visiting FLTR Coffee in Bicester. Then, a month later, I popped into The Hideaway, one of Guildford’s many new openings, to find NewGround’s seasonal Big House blend in the hopper. Turns out I should have paid more attention, though, since Bex of Double Skinny Macchiato wrote about NewGround in October last year!

NewGround’s roastery/coffee shop are in a small workshop tucked away off a side street in Headington, east of the centre of Oxford. The roaster will have its own Meet the Roaster feature in due course, with today’s post focussing on the coffee shop. This is best described as minimalist, somewhere between a full-blown roastery/café (like the Ue Coffee Roastery Cafe & Kitchen) and the Heartland Coffee Bar.

There’s a handful of seats, with the coffee being the real star. NewGround offers its seasonal Big House blend plus a single-origin on espresso, along with batch brew filter. You can also have any coffee in the roastery through V60, Kalita Wave or AeroPress. Naturally, it’s all available in retail boxes. If you’re hungry, there’s granola and porridge for breakfast (all day) and a choice of two cakes.

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Brian’s Travel Spot: Flying to Atlanta in Premium Economy

Making coffee on the plane (again), this time with my Frank Green ceramic cup, Espro TravelPress and Knock Aergrind.Welcome the second instalment of my Travel Spot covering my current trip to Atlanta, Georgia, and Portland, Maine, which began on Monday last week when I flew to Atlanta, travelling in World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy to you and me) with British Airways. Coincidentally, this (8th November) was the very first day that the USA eased its restrictions, finally allowing vaccinated passengers from around 30 countries, including the UK, to travel to America. As a result, I dedicated the first post in this series to all the procedures I had to go through and all the (electronic) paperwork I had to fill out before I could take my flight.

This post is more traditional, covering my flight out, which departed from London Heathrow in mid-afternoon, arriving in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport in the early evening. This is the third time that I’ve flown to/from Hartsfield-Jackson, having made a pair of visits at the start of 2020, one enroute from Phoenix to Portland (Maine) and the second when I flew from Atlanta to Chicago in March 2020. However, this is the first time that I’ve flown into Terminal I, which handles all Atlanta’s international flights, my previous three flights all being internal.

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Little Yellow Pig, Nantwich

My awesome veggie breakfast which I had at Little Yellow Pig in Nantwich. Arranged around a pot of baked beans in the centre are avocado, halloumu, a pair of fried eggs, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and two slices of toast!Ever since opening in 2014, Little Yellow Pig has been something of an institution in Hoole, Chester. Initially a small coffee shop, it expanded into the adjoining space. Now it’s expanded again, adding a second location in the narrow streets of Nantwich town centre. Opening in August last year, the new location is a cosy little spot, with an L-shaped seating area that holds 16 people at most. While it has more traditional coffee shop furnishings (lacking the mismatched tables and armchairs of the original), anyone familiar with Little Yellow Pig in Hoole will immediately feel at home with the quirky décor and eclectic posters on the wall, including Mr Little Yellow Pig himself.

There’s a standard espresso-based menu, with Hundred House‘s seasonal Bon Bon blend from in the hopper. There are also bags of coffee for sale, either whole bean or pre-ground. However, the real draw is the food, all cooked in the kitchen at the back, with separate breakfast, brunch and lunch options, backed up with a small selection of cakes. Take a seat, have a look at the menu (which is conveniently placed on the back wall), then go up to the counter to place your order.

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Heartland Coffee Bar

The Los Nogales, a naturally-processed single-origin from El Salvador, roasted and served as a cortado by Heartland Coffee Roasters.Heartland Coffee Roasters is a pioneer of the North Wales speciality coffee scene, having moved to Llandudno in 2012. The roastery has its own Meet the Roaster feature, while today’s Coffee Spot focuses on the coffee bar within the roastery. I say “coffee bar” and not “coffee shop” because while there are many roastery/coffee shops, there are few coffee bars like the one in Heartland Coffee.

The idea is not to replicate the coffee shop experience, where Heartland would be in competition with its wholesale customers, such as Providero. Instead, the coffee bar provides a more interactive setting, one which can showcase the full range of Heartland’s output while allowing the customers to discover more about the coffee. In this respect, it reminded me of the Single O Tasting Bar in Tokyo, or the coffee bar at Fuglen Coffee Roasters, which has now sadly closed. Another example which springs to mind is 111 Roasting Works’ Tasting Room in Flagstaff, also sadly closed.

That said, you can always just pop in for a cup of coffee (or some tea) if you want, without having the full interactive experience, sitting at the counter, or upstairs in the mezzanine area overlooking the roastery.

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Brian’s Travel Spot: Flying to America During the COVID-19 Pandemic

My British Airways Boeing 787-800 on the stand at Heathrow Terminal 5, waiting to take me to Atlanta on Monday, 8th November. However, before I could get to the plane (and even to the airport), there was a lot of paperwork to get though...Welcome to just the second Travel Spot of 2021 that deals with my actual travels this year, rather than reliving previous trips. I’m currently in Atlanta, Georgia, having flown out on Monday (8th November), coincidentally the exact same day that the USA eased its restrictions, finally allowing vaccinated passengers from around 30 countries, including the UK, to travel to America.

I flew direct with British Airways, this time in World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy to you and me), my flight departing mid-afternoon and arriving in Atlanta in the early evening. Today, after a couple of days in Atlanta, Amanda and I are driving to Portland, Maine, a trip that should take us three days in all. Then, after three weeks in Portland, I’ll fly back from Boston, again in World Traveller Plus.

Usually, my Travel Spots cover the journey itself, but I’m going to save that pleasure for a follow-up post. Instead, since this is the first time that I’ve flown to America under the new travel restrictions, this post is dedicated to the various procedures and (electronic) paperwork that, these days, are a requirement before taking any international flight (with a particular emphasis on the requirements for the USA).

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Taylor’s Coffee House

The front of Taylor's Coffee House, seen from Station Approach, with the vines growing across the edge of the roof and tables either side of the recessed, central door.I’m rather embarrassed that I hadn’t heard of Taylor’s Coffee House until I was tipped off by the staff of Nikki’s in Weybridge, particularly since Taylor’s has been around since 2014! Taylor’s has two locations, a kiosk-style coffee counter in Woking Market Walk and the subject of today’s Coffee Spot, which is just outside West Byfleet Station, another place I’ve zipped through many times on the train to/from London without ever getting off.

Taylor’s Coffee House is on Station Approach, part of a row of restaurants and cafés on the right-hand side as you head for the station. It’s a lovely spot, with a sheltered, outdoor seating area and a three-part interior best described as a collection of sitting rooms, replete with numerous armchairs, sofas and cosy corners.

The coffee is from local roasters, Beanberry Coffee, with the Javascript seasonal espresso blend and Mexico Chiapas decaf available through a concise espresso-based menu, along with a selection of teas and infusions from Teapigs. There’s also a small retail section where you can buy coffee beans, tea, non-dairy milks and a range of other goodies. If you’re hungry, Taylor’s has a small selection of cakes, pastries and toasted sandwiches.

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Meet the Roaster: Heartland Coffee Roasters

The Heartland Coffee Roasters logo, from one of its bags of coffee, showing the sun setting behind the mountains of North Wales.When it comes to the story of speciality coffee in North Wales, you have to start with Heartland Coffee Roasters. I first came across Heartland four years ago at Providero in Llandudno Junction, but I was somewhat late to the game, with the company’s roots going back to the year 2000 when founders Mal (Australia) & Tara (New Zealand) arrived in London from New Zealand. Initially roasting coffee in their kitchen, they set up in business in 2005 and then, in 2012, moved to Llandudno, when Heartland was born.

These days Heartland is a regional powerhouse, with a pair of Coffee-tech roasters turning out the crowd-pleasing Landmark espresso blend and its decaf counterpart, along with Samba, a regional blend from Brazil, and a cast of seasonal single-origins (seven at the time of writing). These are supplied to coffee shops across North Wales (and beyond), as well as being available on-line and for pick-up at the roastery, where Heartland has a coffee bar (which features in its own Coffee Spot).

However, as much as Heartland is about coffee, it’s also about relationships: relationships with coffee famers, with coffee shops and with coffee drinkers, all with the aim of raising expectations.

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