For the Good of the People Coffee (Bean About Town South Bank Update)

A shot of espresso from For the Good of the People at the Southbank Centre Food Market in my Kaffeeform cupA long time ago (at least, it feels that way) when I regularly visited London, I’d often wander past the Southbank Centre Food Market. Conveniently on the route from Waterloo Station to Hungerford Bridge (as I stubbornly still call the Golden Jubilee Bridges) it was made even better by the presence, at the foot of the stairs, of the Bean About Town coffee van, a lovely, old Citroen, run by the equally lovely, but not so old, Claire (who shares, by the way, her nationality with the van, both being French). It was one of the first places I wrote about on the Coffee Spot.

However, things change, I ceased to be such a regular visitor, and I didn’t notice when the van disappeared from the bottom of the stairs. Then, last Sunday, with an hour to spare, I decided to wander out of Waterloo and have a nose around the market, whereupon I stumbled upon a big sign saying “Coffee” at the far end of the market.

That’s new, I thought to myself. Only it wasn’t. It was the old Citroen van, with Claire still there, pulling shots. “What’s going on?” you might well ask. What’s going on indeed!

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Small St Espresso Update

The lovely La Marzocco FB80 espresso machine, with its custom paint job, at Small St Espresso in Bristol.I first wrote about Small St Espresso at the start of 2013, at which point it was at the centre of Bristol’s growing speciality coffee scene, which included (the now closed) Wild at Heart and (the yet to be opened) Full Court Press over on Broad Street. These days, the centre has expanded to include the likes of Playground Coffee and the newly-opened Tincan Coffee Co.

This is actually my second update on Small St Espresso, which featured as the first Coffee Spot Update, published in June 2013. One of many excellent things about Small St Espresso is that it’s on Small Street (other street-named coffee shops take note!). It’s just as well that it wasn’t so named because it’s small, since, after the latest changes which prompted the latest update, I might have to start referring to it as not-so-Small Street espresso…

Yes, that’s right, Small St Espresso has had an extension. Although this hasn’t increased the physical space that much, it’s almost doubled the (admittedly limited) seating, but fortunately without changing the essential character of the place which makes Small Street so special. Talking of expansion, Small St has also opened a second branch, the lovely Little Victories.

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Hot Numbers, Gwydir Street Update

The new Hot Numbers logo from the sign outside the original branch on Gwydir Street, Cambridge.I first visited Hot Numbers in the summer of 2014. Back then it was the one place that pretty much everyone had recommended to me in Cambridge. Café, single-origin roaster, music venue and, by association, art gallery, it had something for everyone and was pretty much the only speciality coffee place in town. How things have changed!

Now Cambridge boasts the The Espresso Library, Urban Larder and Novi in the centre of town, with Stir on the outskirts. There’s also a second Hot Numbers, a coffee shop which doubles as the roastery on Trumpington Street, which the staff were talking excitedly about during my visit in 2014 and which opened towards the end of that year.

With all that change going on, it was too much to ask that the original Hot Numbers on Gwydir Street would be unaffected. However, I was unprepared on my return earlier this year for just how much had changed! The good news, though, is that the most important thing hasn’t changed: the coffee. Still all roasted in-house, Hot Numbers still only serves single-origins, each carefully matched to how you’re drinking it. This includes options on espresso and pour-over via syphon, Aeropress and Clever Dripper.

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Flat Caps Carliol Square (Bunker Coffee Update)

The Flat Caps Coffee logo, taken from a bag of coffee roasted to mark Flat Caps' successful Kickstarter.Back in the summer of 2016, Joe of Newcastle’s Flat Caps Coffee, decided to launch a Kickstarter to fund a second coffee shop alongside the legendary basement on Ridley Place. Five months (and one successful Kickstarter) later and Flat Caps has not one, but two new coffee shops. Funny how these things work out… Flat Caps Carliol Square is the first of these, while the second, Flat Caps Campus North, is next door.

Eagle-eyed readers will spot something familiar about Flat Caps Carliol Square. Not long after the Kickstarter was successfully funded, the opportunity to take over Bunker Coffee & Kitchen presented itself. However, this isn’t just a re-badging of an existing operation: other than the physical space itself, Flat Caps has pretty much changed everything, creating a new coffee shop just as thoroughly as if a new build had been fitted out…

Those who know Flat Caps Ridley Place will at least find the coffee offering familiar: three coffees, each available as espresso or filter, changing on a regular basis from a limited cast of roasters. Added to that is a much-expanded food offering, taking advantage of the large kitchen space at Carliol Square, plus extended opening hours.

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Beany Green, Regent’s Place (Beany Green Euston Update)

A pair of Beany Green deckchairs, blue on the left, pink on the right. Each shows a half-peeled banana with the word "YOUR" above the image, and "NEEDS YOU" underneath.Those folks at Beany Green are at it again! No sooner do I visit/write about a place, than Prue and the team are changing things about! The latest example is the Beany Green at Regent’s Place, or Baby Beany as I think of it, which has undergone something of a facelift/reorganisation since going on the Coffee Spot this time last year.

The offering (healthy and innovative breakfasts, lunches and salads, backed up by Aussie-inspired cakes, all washed down with The Roasting Party espressos/flat whites) hasn’t changed. However, the look-and-feel has. The bench and tables along the left-hand wall has gone, replaced by two far more utilitarian high-tables at right-angles to the wall. Similarly, the counter’s been reorganised, the espresso machine being moved from all the way at the back to right at the front. Fortunately, the most important ingredient of all, the Beany Green goodness, is still available by the bucket-load!

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Faculty Update

A series of vertical wooden boards with the words "Faculty" and "speciality coffee & tea" written horizontally across them, with a blue division sign in the centre.Faculty is now an old hand in Birmingham’s booming speciality coffee scene, having opened at the start of 2014. Located at the southern end of the beautiful Piccadilly Arcade, it’s right outside the New Street entrance of Birmingham’s New Street station and literally just around the corner from the new Yorks Café & Coffee Roasters.

Just like my write-up of Yorks a couple of weeks ago, this was meant to be a simple Coffee Spot Update, but it turned out that there had been sufficient change since my first visit two years ago to warrant writing a new post. Rather than going over old ground, if you want to read about Faculty’s roots and a little of the history of the amazing Piccadilly Arcade, then please take a look at the original write up. Otherwise, keep going…

Faculty’s a true multi-roaster, offering a single-origin on espresso and two more on V60, plus there’s a decaf option. If you don’t like the roaster/options, come back next week and the chances are they will have changed. There are cakes from Sixteen Kitchen, which occupies the unit next to Faculty, from where it serves breakfast, lunch and sandwiches in an interesting space-sharing operation.

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Brunch at Beany Green, Paddington

Brunch at Beany Green (Liverpool Street) - Shakshouka (Baked Eggs) and Sour Dough ToastThis Saturday Supplement is actually a two-for-the-price-of-one deal: it’s a Coffee Spot Update on what used to be my local, the Beany Green branch at Paddington (aka Sheldon Square, aka Little Venice), plus I take a look at Beany Green’s (relatively) new brunch service (available until 3pm, all-day at weekends).

From the summer of 2013, until the end of 2015, when my contract finished, I worked in Sheldon Square, just around the corner from Paddington Station. When Beany Green opened in early 2014, it immediately became my local, coffee trips from the office forming a vital part of my working day. Although it’s only been seven months since I left, Beany Green has made plenty of changes. There’s been an extensive refurbishment, while the opening hours have been extended into the evenings, when Beany Green morphs into a wine bar. Keen to check it out, I returned to my old haunt last weekend for coffee (Friday) and breakfast (Saturday).

Meanwhile, there have also been changes to the menu. Always known for its food, Beany Green has gone one step further with an impressive brunch menu. I tried this out at the end of March over in the Liverpool Street branch.

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Yorks Café & Coffee Roasters (Yorks Bakery Café Update)

Detail of the Yorks sign which used to hang above the door at Yorks Bakery Cafe, Stephenson Street, and now occupies the back wall of the newly expanded Yorks Cafe & Coffee Roasters.I visited Yorks Bakery Café on Birmingham’s Stephenson Street in January 2016, not long after it had opened, replacing the original on Newhall Street, which had to close due to a major refurbishment. Even then, changes were afoot at Stephenson Street since the neighbouring unit had become available, giving Yorks the chance to expand. I wrote up my original visit, intending this post to be a short update describing the new space.  However, on my return last month, I found the newly-expanded Yorks to be so radically different that I scrapped that plan and decided to start from scratch…

Also worked subtly into the expansion was a name-change from Yorks Bakery Café to Yorks Café & Coffee Roasters, reflecting Yorks move into roasting its own coffee. As well as plenty of additional seating, Yorks has used the extra space to install a very shiny Probat roaster. There’s also a fabulous basement which houses more much-needed seating and a large kitchen. This is now turning out a really impressive (and expanded) breakfast & brunch menu, plus an equally impressive lunch menu. Yorks is serving espresso-based drinks using a seasonal single-origin, plus bulk-brew filter with a rotating single-origin which changes every week.

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Look Mum No Hands! South Bank Pop-up 2016

"Look mum no hands!", written on the side of the south-bank pop-up.It’s that time of year again: summer’s on the way (although as I write this, I’ve had the heating on and it poured with rain all day) and the Look Mum No Hands! pop-up has once again appeared under Hungerford Bridge on London’s South Bank. A fixture since 2013, the Look Mum No Hand’s pop-up joins the (sort of) all-year-round options of the Beany Green container and Bean About Town at the Real Food Market. When I last visited, in 2014, Look Mum No Hands! had already expanded considerably since its first year. Unexpectedly finding myself in London last Saturday, I naturally made a bee-line for Queen’s Walk to see what had changed this time around.

I’m pleased to say that this year, Look Mum No Hands! is bigger than ever before, with an expanded seating area under the cover of the bridge and even more food/drink options. There’s the ubiquitous Red Brick on espresso from Square Mile, plus an impressive range of craft beers and cider on tap, backed up with Pimms, prosecco, gin & tonic, vodka & tonic and wine by the glass. There’s cake and pastries, plus, if you’re really hungry, hot dogs, including a vegetarian version.

October 2016: Look Mum No Hands! has gone for another year and sadly it looks like that might be it for now…

May 2017: I checked under Hungerford Bridge and there’s no sign of Looks Mum No Hands! this year. There is a bar down there in the spot which Looks Mum No Hands! normally occupies, which suggests, sadly, that it won’t be coming back this year…

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Exploding Bakery Update

Excellent Espresso in a Glass from the Exploding Bakery, ExeterTo start at the beginning, Exeter’s Exploding Bakery was always one of my favourite places and made a very early appearance on the Coffee Spot, being just the 20th place that I wrote about after I visited in 2012. Back then it was definitely a bakery that served coffee, with a couple of tables and an espresso machine tucked into a busy, thriving bakery, baristas and bakers sharing the space.

When I ran into the guys from the Exploding Bakery at the Caffè Culture Show in 2015, they excitedly told me about all the changes that they had made, leaving me itching for a return. However, Exeter isn’t somewhere that you casually pass by (not if you live in Guildford, anyway), so it wasn’t until January of this year, when I was on my way down to Torquay, that I had the opportunity to pop in and say hello the new-look Exploding Bakery.

September 2016: The Exploding Bakery has expanded once again, taking over the adjacent unit. You can still sit in the bakery and drink your coffee, but you’ll find the counter and most of the seating one door over to the right.

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