Ropes & Twines

A Colombian single-origin espresso extracting on a Mavam espresso system at Ropes & Twines in Liverpool.Liverpool’s Bold Street is no stranger to great coffee, with the eponymous Bold Street Coffee leading the way for many years. More recently, it’s been joined by a host of others, including, on nearby Wood Street, Mother Espresso, and now, on Bold Street itself, Ropes & Twines, which describes itself as a “Coffee and Wine Room”. Perhaps taking the lead from the likes of Filter + Fox, Ropes & Twines offers coffee and wine in a high-class setting, including a rather awesome set of cellar rooms, along with sandwiches, cakes and charcuterie (the only other coffee shop I can think of offering coffee, wine and charcuterie is London’s Fernandez & Wells).

When it comes to the coffee, there are two single-origins, one on espresso, one on pour-over, both roasted for Ropes & Twines by Maude Coffee in Leeds. In keeping with the elegance of the setting, Ropes & Twines has dispensed with the usual bulk of the espresso machine, instead going with what I believe is the UK’s first Mavam espresso system outside of London. This modular system hides the boilers and pumps out of the way, just leaving the group heads and steam wands rising above the counter.

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Mother Espresso

My 6oz with milk at Mother Espresso in Liverpool.Coffee shop chains are strange things. Sometimes places expand quickly, adding shop after shop, building a strong brand name. Other times, a second branch is only added after long, careful consideration. And sometimes, that second branch is so far removed in look and feel from the original that, until the barista tells you about the connection, you are completely clueless.

So it is with Mother Espresso, the Liverpool outpost of Manchester’s finest, North Tea Power, which opened a mere eight years after its parent and is about as different as can be in terms of look and feel. In my defence, as soon as the barista told me, I remembered, having read about the opening at the end of 2017 on social media, but by the time I came to visit, I’d completely forgotten about the connection, the name “Mother Espresso” not exactly screaming “North Tea Power” at me.

Like its parent, Mother Espresso does many things, excelling at them all, from coffee through tea, craft beer, wine and cocktails to an impressive food menu. The coffee is from Has Bean, with a pair of single-origins on espresso (for milk and black drinks respectively), while there’s also pour-over and batch-brew.

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92 Degrees Roastery

The 92 Degrees logo.Liverpool’s 92 Degrees isn’t just an ordinary (speciality) coffee shop. Instead it also happens to be a roaster as well, and what’s more, it’s one that roasts on-site, akin to Manchester’s Ancoats Coffee Co. or Birmingham’s Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters. However, the uniqueness doesn’t stop there. Most roasters are usually set up by people with a strong background in coffee, whereas 92 Degrees is the brainchild of five friends from the software business, united by a love of coffee/coffee shops. What’s more, while most start small and grow with small steps, 92 Degrees went all in, roasting its own beans onsite from the outset.

92 Degrees, the coffee shop, has its own entry on the Coffee Spot. Today’s post, part of the occasional Meet the Roaster series, focuses on the roasting side of the business. As well as supplying the coffee shop, 92 Degrees has a growing retail customer-base, plus you can buy the beans, either in the store or on-line. 92 Degrees roasts a mix of blends for espresso and single-origin coffees for both espresso and filter. 92 Degrees has also been a champion of good decaf from the outset, always having a single-origin decaf on espresso.

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Root Coffee

The words "Root Coffee" written in an arch in black capitals on white, tiled wall. "EST / 20 / 15" is written in red in a box below.On December 19th, 2015, Liverpool got an early Christmas present in the shape of Root Coffee. In speciality coffee shop terms, Root is huge, with a generous outdoor seating area, and a spacious, uncluttered interior. The fun doesn’t stop there, with much of the furniture made by the owner, Dennis, using recycled pallets (for the bench seating and coffee tables) and naturally-weathered, reclaimed wood from the docks (wall cladding, counter and table-tops).

The coffee, however, is anything but recycled, and this includes the equipment, which features a state-of-the-art three-group Black Eagle espresso machine and a Mythos 1 grinder, while there’s an EK-43 for filter and decaf. The coffee itself comes from a rotating cast of roasters, Dennis’ aim being to champion some of the less well-known roasters, raising their brand awareness in Liverpool.

While I was there, Root had gone all West Country, with Bristol’s Extract Coffee Roasters on espresso and Bath’s Round Hill Roastery on filter, with local roasters, Neighbourhood Coffee, providing the decaf. There’s a wide selection of loose-leaf teas, and, in a further West Country link, the cakes are from Bristol’s Cakesmiths. There’s also a toast-based menu for those who want something a little more savoury.

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Filter + Fox

The writing on the window: Filter + Fox | Cafe - Bar - HideoutIn the history of Liverpool’s (relatively) short speciality coffee scene, Filter + Fox, on Duke Street, plays an interesting role. Originally set up as Duke Street Espresso, an off-shoot of the famous Bold Street Coffee, it was reborn as Filter + Fox just over a year ago, when the current owners, Owain and Chris, took over. They had already made a name for themselves with their Bold Street Cold Brew, but they brought with them a background of many years in the bar industry, building on Duke Street Espresso’s reputation for good coffee and adding food through the day and cocktails in the evening.

Filter + Fox employs the coffee and cocktails model pioneered in London by the likes of Shoreditch Grind, but with the sort of elegance more normally associated with the likes of Notes or Fernandez & Wells. The result is unique, very much one of a kind in Liverpool, and in many ways ahead of the game. The coffee is from London’s Nude Espresso, with regularly-rotating guests on filter. There’s food (all-day breakfast, sandwiches, small plates and bar snacks) and a limited cake selection throughout the day, while the well-stocked bar serves right up until midnight.

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Panna

A flat white from Panna, Liverpool, in an interestingly-shaped cup and saucer.Panna, located in Liverpool’s business district, just north of the centre, is tucked away in the basement of Silkhouse Court on Tythebarn Street. In a city full of lovely, old Victorian buildings (such as the nearby old Exchange Station), this is a disappointing slice of modern, stark, concrete functionality. The setting notwithstanding, Panna’s a lovely spot and, for somewhere that’s effectively a basement and entirely below street level, it’s surprisingly bright.

Panna opened in 2013, offering baguettes and coffee. However, the offering’s steadily expanded as demand has grown. These days there’s an interesting and innovative breakfast menu (to 11.30) and an equally interesting and innovative all-day brunch/lunch menu, with all the food prepared in the small kitchen behind the counter. Sandwiches are still available, as is a range of cakes and cookies.

The coffee side of Panna has also grown, with Has Bean providing the espresso blend and, since last summer, local roasters Neighbourhood Coffee offering a selection of single-origin filters through the V60. These were introduced to give customers something different from the typical Americanos, Panna being rewarded with a slow migration to pour-over. There’s also an interesting range of alcohol-based coffees and loose-leaf tea, served in individual infusers.

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Junction Coffee

The colourful front cover of the menu at Liverpool's Junction CoffeeJunction Coffee is the epitome of a neighbourhood café, serving the good folk of Aigburth, a suburb to the south of Liverpool city centre. Located near a busy junction (from which Junction Coffee gets its name) on the equally busy Aigburth Road, Junction Coffee has been quietly serving speciality coffee to its regulars since 2011 when the owner, Nathan, quit his job with the council to pursue his passion for coffee.

Junction uses Staffordshire’s Has Bean, which roasts a bespoke espresso blend for Junction, while there are usually two single-origin beans available through the Kalita Wave filter for those feeling more adventurous. There’s also hot chocolate, loose-leaf tea and a range of soft drinks.

However, there’s a lot more to Junction than just the coffee. It serves an impressive range of sandwiches, toasted sandwiches, panini, wraps and bagels, plus salads and a soup of the day. Add to that an impressive range of home-made cakes, plus ice cream, and Junction has you covered whatever the time of day.

October 2016: I heard the news that Junction Coffee has closed its doors for good over the summer.

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92 Degrees Coffee

The 92 Degrees logo.92 Degrees Coffee is one of several places to spring up in Liverpool in the last year or two. Whereas most coffee shops are started by people within the industry, 92 Degrees is the brainchild of five friends from the software business, united by a love of coffee/coffee shops. What’s more, while most start small and grow with small steps, 92 Degrees went all in, roasting its own beans onsite from the outset (the roaster, by the way, is Rob Leigh, author of From Lime Street to Yirgacheffe). You’ll be able to read more about the roasting side of things and the motivation behind 92 Degrees in the Meet the Roaster series.

92 Degrees occupies a large, bright, high-ceilinged space, the sort of coffee shop that you could easily lose yourself in for an afternoon. Meanwhile, the roaster turns out some very good single-origin coffee. There are two single-origins and a decaf on espresso, and a further five roasted for filter, all through the V60. All the beans are available for you to take home, along with a selection of coffee kit. If you’re hungry, there’s a good range of cake, toasted bagels and a small selection of sandwiches.

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The Cow & Co Cafe

The Cow & Co Cafe logo taken from the front of the menu.The Cow & Co Cafe started life in Liverpool as a design store in 2009. Over time, an espresso machine found its way into the store and, before long, customers were coming in as much for the coffee as for the various gifts and products on the shelves. Slowly, the design shop morphed into what you see today, the Cow & Co Cafe, a speciality coffee shop, with Cornwall’s Origin Coffee Roasters on espresso and, for somewhere so small, an impressive food and cake selection.

It still retains its roots as a design store though, with a large set of retail shelves, while there’s also a rack of art, design and lifestyle magazines. Think of a smaller version of Manchester’s Fig + Sparrow crossed with London’s Kioskafé. The coffee offering and magazines are more on a par with Kioskafé, while the food and design elements are more in keeping with Fig + Sparrow.

Although it’s only small, Cow & Co packs a lot in, including a lovely mezzanine level, which more than doubles the seating capacity. There’s also a couple of tables outside on the pavement, the dead-end Cleveland Square being a pleasant-enough environment if you want to sit outside.

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Coffee & Fandisha

A miniature Jebena, the traditional Ethiopian coffee pot, on a table at Liverpool's Coffee & FandishaI must confess, the tag line “where coffee meets popcorn” didn’t initially inspire me. Really? Coffee and popcorn? However, Coffee & Fandisha came highly recommended, and, since I’d made the journey to Liverpool’s Baltic triangle (admittedly only a 15-minute walk from the centre), I thought I’d better go in…

So, what is Coffee & Fandisha? The clue’s in the name, “Fandisha” being Ethiopian for popcorn. It transpires that popcorn’s a traditional element in the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, consumed while waiting for the coffee to stop you getting hungry. Hence, Coffee & Fandisha, “where coffee meets popcorn”.

Coffee & Fandisha’s an interesting mix of Ethiopian tradition, modern third-wave coffee and old-fashioned Liverpudlian hospitality. Occupying a single-storey, open-plan brick building, Coffee & Fandisha’s a cosy, welcoming place. There’s a bespoke blend of Ethiopian coffee on espresso, roasted by London’s Ethiopian Coffee Company and served, naturally enough, with complimentary popcorn.

If you don’t fancy espresso, there’s a single-origin filter (V60/Chemex), the roaster rotating between Neighbourhood Coffee, Casa Espresso or Nude Espresso. There’s also loose-leaf tea, Kokoa Collection hot chocolate, wines and spirits, while if you’re hungry, you can choose from the breakfast, brunch and lunch menus, or feast on the decent cake selection.

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