Baltzersens has been around since 2012, when it joined Harrogate pioneers, Bean & Bud, which is just five minutes’ walk away from Baltzersens’ town centre location on Oxford Street. A curious blend of Yorkshire and Scandinavia, Baltzersens is a café by day, before morphing into a restaurant, Norse, in the evenings (which is outside of the scope of this Coffee Spot). From the outside, it doesn’t look big enough to house a restaurant, but Baltzersens goes a long way back, before ending in a large room which opens off to the right. There’s also a generous amount of outdoor seating on the pedestrianised street.
When it opened, Baltzersens was known more for its food than for its coffee, but these days it stands comparison with the best of them. The food, which is Scandinavian-inspired, is still excellent, with breakfast served until noon, when lunch takes over. This is joined by a small all-day brunch selection and plenty of excellent-looking cakes. The coffee, meanwhile, is from North Star in Leeds, which supplies the seasonal house-blend, plus rotating guests on the second grinder, which change on a monthly basis. There is also a monthly filter option from another Leeds roaster, Maude Coffee.
No trip to Harrogate would be complete without at least contemplating a visit to the famous Bettys Café Tea Rooms. I duly carried out my contemplation as I walked past in the morning, put off by the long queue snaking along the pavement. However, as I wandered past with an hour to kill in the evening before my train back to York, the lack of a queue led to a reappraisal and soon I was seated downstairs in Bettys, greedily surveying the heaving cake trolley.
Founded in 1919, Bettys sounds as Yorkshire as they come, but it was, in fact, the creation of a Swiss baker/confectioner, Frederick Belmont. Despite this, it’s quintessentially the British Tea Room and opinions about it vary considerably. I find my own ambivalence to Bettys both puzzling and informative.
On the one hand, having to queue for anything puts me off, plus it is, undoubtedly, a grand institution of the sort I am naturally suspicious off. On the other hand, were this Paris’ Angelina or Dublin’s Bewley’s, then I would (and have been) there like a shot. Perhaps it is just the familiarity of the British Tea Room that breeds contempt. Regardless, reach your own conclusions.
Harrogate’s finest is Bean & Bud, although from the looks of it, Hoxton North could give it a run for its money, if only it wasn’t shut on Mondays (guess who came to visit Harrogate on a Monday?). A few minutes’ walk north of the train station on Commercial Street, Bean & Bud can best be described as bright and bold, the majority of the interior painted a bright red, in contrast to, rather than in sympathy with, the lovely wooden counter and flooring. What isn’t red is white, including the (fairly low) ceiling.
However, the draw of Bean & Bud is the outstanding tea and coffee. While I can’t speak to the tea, Fancy a Cuppa rates it, which is good enough for me. The coffee rotates on a regular basis, changing both beans and roasters with frightening speed. Don’t come back expecting the same cup of coffee you had last week!
The coffee is available as espresso (with varying quantities of milk) or filter (V60, Aeropress or Chemex). The week’s beans are up on the board, the idea being that you have a discussion with the barista about which bean you want and then how to take it.
September 2015: I’m delighted that Bean & Bud was short-listed for this year’s Lunch Business Awards Best Tea Experience.