For almost as long as I’ve been writing the Coffee Spot, my friend Sharon has been nagging me to visit Swindon. Initially, there was the well-regarded Cafelicious, but that closed down (the owners going on to open Cotswold Artisan Coffee in nearby Cirencester) before I could get there. Oh well, I thought.
Then, in 2014, two coffee shops opened within a few weeks of each other: Monday’s Coffee Spot, Baila, and the subject of today’s Coffee Spot, Darkroom Espresso. Darkroom almost didn’t survive long enough for me to visit: set up by Anglo-Australian couple, Andy and Jacky, our wonderful Government decided to deport Jacky (the Aussie), almost destroying a much-loved small business in the process.
The good news, however, is that Andy and Jacky were able to sell Darkroom before they left to Arthur and Will, co-owners of Oxford’s Brew, who took over this summer. These days you can find Arthur behind the counter, along with good friend of the Coffee Spot, Steve, the only man to get me to visit a Harris & Hoole…
Darkroom gets all its coffee from the nearby Round Hill Roastery, with single-origins on espresso and bulk-brew. There’s also tea from Cardiff’s Waterloo Tea.
Baila Coffee & Vinyl is on Swindon’s southern side, “up the hill” as the locals put it, in the part of old Swindon that actually looks and feels like a pleasant small town, rather than the post-war concrete shopping area that is the modern centre. Near the top of Victoria Road, Baila’s a coffee shop that buys/sells vinyl records rather than a record shop which serves coffee (The Keen Bean Coffee Club, for example).
As befits somewhere that’s all about vinyl (black), coffee (black too) and coffee with milk (white), the décor is predominantly black and white, with added touches of black and occasional splashes of white for variety. The floor is at least (dark) wood, as are the tables and chairs.
The coffee is from nearby Extract Coffee Roasters, with Extract’s standard espresso blend in the main hoper, plus decaf. Single origins make an appearance as filter coffee, Baila unusually utilising the Clever Dripper. There are also smoothies and loose-leaf tea.
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, Baila reopens from seven in the evening until eleven as a bar, serving craft beers, gin, wine and spirits. The bar also makes an appearance from four until ten on Sunday afternoon/evening.