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The Coffee Spot Guide to Bristol

Bristol Temple Meads station, part of Brunel's Great Western RailwayNot only is Bristol a fantastic city and home to some excellent coffee shops and roasters, it also holds a very special place in my heart when it comes to the Coffee Spot. It was one of the cities which first encouraged my love of cafes and then motivated me to start the Coffee Spot. Indeed, the first ever Coffee Spot was the Boston Tea Party on Park Street, a very deliberate choice on my part.

Bristol is another of those gloriously hilly cities, so be prepared for some steep climbs and corresponding excellent views. It’s also a very old city, although it was extensively bombed during the second world war, so expect odd juxtapositions as you find modern 1960s/70s developments rubbing shoulders with medieval buildings. Until recently, Bristol was a major port and its maritime heritage is still a major draw, including the SS Great Britain, which now has a permanent home west of the old docks. Another favourite engineering marvel is the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

I’m lucky enough to have a number of friends in Bristol, so I am a fairly regular visitor, popping back at least twice a year. This has enabled me to watch the growth of the speciality coffee scene from its small beginnings in the heart of the medieval city centre. It’s now spread, colonising the likes of Whiteladies Road. As well as great coffee shops, Bristol has always had good roasters, with the likes of Clifton and Extract having a presence on the national stage. Over the last couple of years, these have been joined by a number of other, smaller roasters and this trend, both in growth of coffee shops and roasters, shows no signs of slowing down.

As with all these guides, this is not, and does not claim to be, a comprehensive guide to Bristol’s coffee scene. I know of at least five coffee shops that I want to visit which have opened since my last trip to Bristol! For an alternative viewpoint (from a local no less), take a look at Becca Cart’s two Bristol Coffee Shop Guides. The first one has lots of my favourites, while the second one contains five more I’ve not visited. For a wider look at the Bristol food scene, check out this excellent guide by Niamh Sheilds of Eat Like a Girl.

Header image: The Clifton Suspension Bridge, with Clifton in the background to the right.

Coffee Spots

25A Old Market

Detail from the window of 25A Old Market in Bristol25A Old Market is the younger sibling of No 12 Easton, and, like No 12, it has the virtue of using its address as its name. In this case, it’s on Bristol’s Old Market Street, east of the city centre and north of Temple Meads station, but within easy walking distance of both. As well as being a coffee shop of some note, the other thing it shares with No 12 is that it’s a deli and general provisions store.

Occupying a bright, uncluttered spot on the north side of Old Market Street, a relatively small street front belies the sizable interior. There’s limited seating upstairs with a communal table and two small bars, while downstairs, in a basement half open to the front window, is more seating in the shape of a couple of tables and a very comfortable-looking sofa.

The local Extract Coffee Roasters provide the house-espresso and a seasonal filter blend (available through the Clever Dripper) while regular guests make appearances on both espresso and filter. There’s also a wide range of (Extract) beans to buy. While it doesn’t have No 12’s extensive food menu, there are also decent breakfast, lunch and cake options if you’re hungry.

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Alex Does Coffee

Details from the sign hanging on the door of Alex Does CoffeeAlex Does Coffee, part of Bristol’s growing speciality coffee scene, has graced Old Market Street, just  east of the city centre, since June last year, where it’s been joined more recently by 25A Old Market, which sits across the road. Located in spacious surroundings on the ground floor of Two’s Company, a creative hub and studios, Alex Does Coffee pretty much does what it says on the tin, with Alex doing coffee from an espresso machine on a counter at the back of the main space.

Alex Does Coffee has a concise espresso-based menu, focusing on doing a few things well, rather than trying to be all things to all people. The coffee is from the local Extract Coffee Roasters, while there’s also tea, hot chocolate, cold brew and soft drinks. If you want something sweet with your coffee, there’s a small selection of cake, including cookies, waffles and pastries.

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Image from the sign above the door at Bakesmiths on Whiteladies Road.Cakesmiths is a Bristol-based cake baker of national renown, its cakes appearing in coffee shops up and down the country. Old friends of the Coffee Spot, Cakesmiths and I have a symbiotic (parasitic?) relationship: I go to coffee festivals and Cakesmiths feeds me cake… However, other than stalking Cakesmiths at festivals, you haven’t been able to get its cakes fresh from the baker’s hand, so to speak.

So, imagine my surprise and delight when, in May this year, Cakesmiths opened its very own coffee shop, called Bakesmiths, on Bristol’s Whiteladies Road. Bakesmiths, which spreads itself across two spacious, high-ceilinged floors on the corner with Aberdeen Road, calls itself a sister café to Cakesmiths. As well as Cakesmiths’ legendary tray bakes, cheesecakes and the like, Bakesmiths has an on-site bakery and kitchen where it makes all its own bread and many of the cakes, all baked fresh each day.

Add to that some fabulous espresso and bulk-brew filter coffee from the local Clifton Coffee Roasters, plus the occasional filter coffee roasted on-site, and you’re onto a winner. And that’s without mentioning the craft beer or the wine or even the all-day brunch menu, complete with specials, which magically appears at weekends.

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Boston Tea Party, Park Street Update

A latte with a fern-leaf motif in the milkIn many ways, the Boston Tea Party on Bristol’s Park Street, where the Boston Tea Party chain began, is also where the Coffee Spot started, albeit a good few years later. It’s the first place that I wrote about, the first Coffee Spot being published three years and two days ago on 28th September 2012. As the Coffee Spot heads into its fourth year, it seems only fitting that I should revisit where it all began.

So, what’s changed in that time? Well, quite a bit, actually. The coffee is still the same, the Tea Party favouring a bespoke Extract Coffee Roasters’ seasonal espresso blend, and while the food menu has gone through some iterations, it’s still the same core of excellent cakes and all-day breakfasts.

No, what’s actually changed is the place itself. Well, not so much changed, just expanded. Since I was last there three years ago, the seating has pretty much doubled, with the Tea Party adding a second garden and a second upstairs room.

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Boston Tea Party, Stokes Croft

A recent addition to the successful Boston Tea Party chain can be found in Stokes Croft in Bristol. As my friend who lives there (Stokes Croft, not, contrary to rumour, the Boston Tea Party itself), aptly put it: “just what Stokes Croft needs, another café”. When it opened, there were already three excellent places within a two minute walk (and now there’s a fourth across the road), so the Boston Tea Party needs to be pretty special if it’s going to make a mark.

Don’t worry, it is.

It’s got the usual Boston Tea Party coffee, the wide range of cakes and food, but what makes it stand out is the seating. Well, the seating and the atmosphere, which sort of goes with the seating. Well, the seating, atmosphere and friendly staff. You get the picture.

It’s a got a broad patio out front which provides some protection from the breeze and the noise of the busy Cheltenham Road (I stress some) and inside there is every sort of seat you could possible want. Beyond that, it’s just a great place to hang out on your own or with friends (or, in my case, with my laptop and camera).

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Boston Tea Party, Whiteladies Road

The exterior of Boston Tea Party branch on Whiteladies Road in BristolOn the busy Whiteladies Road in Bristol, just a few doors along from where Joe's Coffee used to be, stands another branch of the Boston Tea Party chain. I’m not quite sure why it’s taken me this long to find this particular Tea Party; the only excuse I can offer is that it’s not a part of Bristol I visit very often. The Whiteladies Road branch has the usual Boston Tea Party offerings: coffee that’s a cut above your average chain, a large and excellent food (and cake) menu, including breakfast served all day, and lovely surroundings to eat/drink in.

Like all the other branches of the Boston Tea Party that I’ve covered, this one feels like a Boston Tea Party while at the same time managing to be its own place. The trick that the Tea Party seems to have pulled off is to take iconic/unique/interesting buildings and turn them into fantastic spaces for cafés. In the case of Whiteladies Road, it’s on the site of an old record store. While I’ve been in plenty of Tea Parties that stretch over two floors (eg Exeter, Worcester), this is the first that stretches over three levels (unless you count the garden at the original Park Street), making it a particularly lovely setting.

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Brew Coffee Co

A lovely flat white from Brew Coffee Co, made with a Honduran single-origin, roasted by Clifton Coffee Co, and served in a glass.Brew Coffee Co is an ever-popular breakfast/brunch/lunch spot on Bristol’s Whiteladies Road, the southern-most outpost of a cluster that starts at the top with Tradewind Espresso and includes the Boston Tea Party, Bakesmiths and new arrival,  Coffee + Beer. That said, Brew has been there longer than most, seeing the likes of Joe's Coffee come and go.

In my head, Brew is a brunch place that does excellent food, while serving good coffee from the local Clifton Coffee Roasters on espresso and guests on batch-brew. However, even that does it a disservice since the coffee is also excellent, lifting Brew into the category of a coffee destination in its own right, while the cakes are awesome too.

This is the fourth or fifth time that I’ve visited Brew and I’ve never been disappointed. On my previous trips I’ve never had the opportunity to write it up properly, which is a shame. I’ve either been in a hurry, or visited with friends, plus Brew is usually horrendously busy, which has ruled out taking photographs. However, on my most recent visit I ensured I had plenty of time and even popped back later in the afternoon for photos when things were quieter.

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Cafe Kino

The problem with Stokes Croft in Bristol is that it has many, many cafes.  So many that, for example, within a few minutes’ walk of my friend’s house, I can think of five places that I’d happily go for coffee, cake, breakfast and/or lunch. There are plenty of other interesting-looking places which I’m sure are equally good, but I’ve never had the time/inclination/ opportunity to visit them. Choice is all well and good, but too much choice just makes my head hurt.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that there must be something pretty special about Cafe Kino to draw me in. However, trying to capture in words what that pretty special something is can be tricky. It scores on all the usual plus points: good coffee, friendly staff, free wi-fi and power sockets at about half the tables. It also has booths! Booths are a much under-rated and over-looked form of seating and more places should have them.

However, to find out what that extra special something is, you’ll have to read on…

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Clifton Coffee Company

Cupping at the Clifton Coffee Company: Guatemala Finca la Bolsa filterToday’s Saturday Supplement is the second in the occasional series, Meet the Roaster This time it’s Bristol-based Clifton Coffee Company, which invited me over to its warehouse, roasting and training facility at Avonmouth. Clifton Coffee Company has a very different business-model and set-up to Rave Coffee, the subject of the first “Meet the Roaster”, although both roast a similar volume of coffee. As well as in-house roasting, Clifton has its finger in a number of other (coffee-related) pies, including equipment supply (espresso machines, grinders and boilers), engineering support and training in a dedicated training suite.

My visit was also the first time that I have attended any formal coffee cupping (although as formal coffee cuppings go, this was pretty informal). As part of the normal quality-control procedures, the recent output (all filter coffee) was being cupped during the afternoon and Andy, my host for the day, had invited me to join in. For the record there were three Central American single-origin beans (Guatemalan, Finca la Bolsa; Nicaraguan, Finca la Argentina; and a Costa Rican; I think!) along with three more single-origins from Africa (Kenyan, Gatomboya AB; Rwandan, BUF Café Nyarusia; Ethiopian, Shakiso Sidamo).

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Coffee + Beer

The reflection of the skylight in the ceiling above, captured in my coffee at the back of Coffee + Beer in Bristol.Bristol’s coffee scene continues to expand, with new additions every time I visit. One of the most recent, Coffee + Beer, opened at the end of the June, at the bottom of Cotham Hill. A stone’s throw from Clifton Down train station and Whiteladies Road, it’s an area already replete with the likes of Tradewind Espresso, Boston Tea Party, Bakesmiths and Brew. What makes Coffee + Beer stand out in this crowded market is that is sells, well, coffee and beer…

I found out about Coffee + Beer from my friend Bristol Café Watcher, who declared the coffee to be some of the best there is. Well, with recommendations like that, you can’t really go wrong, so I popped in two weeks ago only to find that I already knew the owner, the wonderful Dan (Williams), who I met in Oxford when he was one half of Zappi’s Bike Café.

Now Dan’s in Bristol, doing his own thing, selling beer and serving excellent coffee from a range of local (and not-so-local) roasters. There’s espresso, with six single-origins on pour-over using Kalita Wave filters and Marco Beverage Systems SP9s, plus tea from Jeeves and Jericho and a small selection of cake.

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Elemental Collective

The Triple Co Roast Logo, which you'll find, along with the roastery and Elemental Espresso Bar, at the back of the Elemental Collective in Stokes Croft, Bristol.On a busy corner in Stokes Croft in Bristol, opposite Cafe Kino, stands a five-sided building, home to one of a new breed of coffee shop. The Elemental Collective is many things to many people: as well as a coffee shop, it’s a greengrocers, selling fresh fruit and vegetables, a bakers, loaded with freshly-baked bread and pastries, plus a store, stocked with local produce, including milk and eggs. And it’s not just a coffee shop, since it’s also home to Triple Co Roast with the roastery clearly on show at the back on the right, while on the left the Elemental Espresso Bar serves Triple Co Roast’s output.

Triple Co Roast, which has built up an enviable reputation for roasting excellent coffee in a relatively short time, will feature in its own Meet the Roaster in due course, so this Coffee Spot will focus on the espresso bar. There’s a single-origin on espresso, with a different one on pour-over through the Clever Dripper. These change every month or so, although Jo, the man behind Triple Co Roast, doesn’t roast for a specific extraction method, so you may find a given coffee on espresso one month and on pour-over the next.

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Extract Coffee Roasters

A large, black bomb drops vertically down the centre of the poster with the words "Stop Worrying, Love The Brew" at the bottom.Today’s Meet the Roaster, Bristol’s Extract Coffee Roasters, is one of the first roasters I became aware of when I started the Coffee Spot. It’s also one of the first, after Rave and Clifton, to invite me to visit the roastery, so it’s rather embarrassing that it’s taken me until now to accept the invitation! My host for the day was Callum, a relatively new recruit to Extract, but I was lucky enough to meet Dave, who along with his sister and best friend, established Extract in 2007.

For a while, Extract was synonymous in my head with the Boston Tea Party, the Bristol-based, regional chain, which is still a major Extract customer. However, it’s so much more than that, with a national presence. These days, it roasts around 13 tons of coffee a month (a far cry from its original 5kg roaster), with 80% of the output as espresso blends. The remaining 20% includes single-origin espressos with iconic names such as Dr Strangelove and Strongman, Extract’s Movember single-origin, which is only on sale in November, a £1 donation made to charity for each kg sold. There are also single-origin filters and filter blends which are steadily increasing in popularity.

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Full Court Press

A cup of filter coffee from Full Court PressThe latest in the recent explosion of speciality coffee shops in Bristol, Full Court Press, or FCP Coffee, burst onto the scene on 1st May. I gave it a day to settle down and then went in to see what all the fuss was about.

Bristol has a number of top-notch coffee shops that would grace any city in the country and FCP has leapt right in there with them. Reminiscent of (the sadly now closed) Didn’t You Do Well in both decor and coffee attitude, owner Mat has created something special here. From the moment you walk through the door, you know you are going to get some special coffee. Two white boards on the walls behind the large counter list the four beans available, along with tasting notes and preparation methods. Unusually, FCP has no preferred roaster, and while that may change when things settle down, currently each of the four beans is from different roasters and regularly change.

While I was there, Chris, from Small Street Espresso came in and while he sat at the back chatting with Mat, barista Dave gave me a tour of the premises and a quick demonstration of the art of making coffee (see the gallery).

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Hart’s Bakery

Hart's Bakery, in one of the arches under the Approach Road to Bristol Temple Meads StationHart’s Bakery has rapidly established itself as synonymous with good cake, at least in Bristol’s speciality coffee circles, where it supplies many of my favourite Coffee Spots. What I hadn’t realised, until I visited it myself, is that it’s also a fantastic little coffee spot in its own right, serving its own amazing cakes, soup, toasties and pasties, along with great coffee from local roasters, Extract.

Another advantage is that it’s right outside Bristol’s Temple Meads Station, which is good news for coffee lovers since that area is not awash with great coffee. It’s an interesting space: located under an arch of Station Approach, the ramp leading up to Temple Meads, it has the feel of a large air raid shelter, probably due to the corrugated metal ceiling that lines the presumably brick underside of the arch.

The staff were very friendly, greeting everyone with a cheery hello as they come in. Sometimes you don’t want that, but entering such a large and open space, it makes you feel very welcome. Head baker, Laura [Hart], serves as well as baking, which all adds to the atmosphere, giving it a very communal feel.

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Little Victories

Detail from the A-board outside Little Victories in Bristol, explaining the concept and pointing the way to the door...Small St Espresso, which opened in 2012, was one of Bristol’s first speciality coffee shops and is still one of my favourites, a masterclass on how to run a coffee shop in a small, intimate space. When I visited at the start of 2016, there were rumours of a second Small St, and then, at the very end of the summer, it opened. Going by the name Little Victories and describing itself as a sister venue to Small St, it was a must-visit on my return to Bristol at the end of last year.

Located on the wonderfully-named Spike Island, south of Bristol’s Floating Harbour, Little Victories is part of the Wapping Wharf development, sitting at the bottom (northern) end of Gaol Ferry Steps. Occupying a ground floor corner unit, it’s a big, open space with enormously high ceilings.

Operating as a speciality coffee shop by day, it morphs into a casual bar in the evening (Wednesday to Saturday), bringing craft beer, small plates and coffee-based cocktails to Bristol. All the coffee is from local roasters, Clifton Coffee Roasters, with two options on espresso and two more on available as pour-overs through the Chemex, while bread comes from Hart’s Bakery.

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Milk Teeth Café & Stores

The Milk Teeth logo from the chalkboard just inside the door at Portland Square.Milk Teeth is one of a new band of speciality coffee shops in Bristol, opening in March last year following a successful Kickstarter campaign. It’s in Saint Paul’s, the area to the east of Stokes Croft, and is very firmly rooted in the local community, with the owner, Josh, who cut his teeth at the Boston Tea Party, living a couple of streets away.

Occupying a long, thin space facing the street, it’s actually just off Portland Square. It’s a friendly, welcoming space, which is open well into the evenings. Some have likened it to a social enterprise, but Josh dislikes the term, since he believes that all business can (and should) be carried out in a socially-conscious way. For Milk Teeth, this means using local suppliers and supporting local business, including using Milk Teeth to provide micro-finance to local start-ups.

Milk Teeth serves Extract’s Cast Iron blend on espresso, with rotating guest filter coffees on either bulk-brew or V60. Keeping it local, this includes Clifton Coffee Roasters, Roasted Rituals and Triple Co Roast. As well as coffee, there’s tea (Josh’s first love) and food, with concise breakfast and lunch menus. There’s also a range of local produce available to buy.

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No 12 Easton

Coffee * Provisions * Deli | No 12 | EastonNo 12 Easton is a little off the beaten track, although it’s not that far off the beaten track. On the eastern side of the M32 and a few minutes’ walk from Bristol’s Stapleton Road station, I was first put onto it by twitter’s Bristol Café Watcher. Occupying an interestingly-shaped corner of the High Street, No 12 is a little bit of everything: coffee shop, café, deli, grocer, off-licence and community hang-out space.

If I’m honest, I had my doubts. I’m firmly in the “do a few things and do them well camp” and was worried that the coffee wouldn’t be up to much. However, I should have more faith in Café Watcher: No 12 serves some excellent coffee and, talking to owner Chris, there are aspirations to do a lot more, although perhaps not at No 12 itself.

As it is, No 12 serves a standard espresso-based menu using a cast of rotating roasters. During my visit, Extract was in the hopper, the roastery literally located on the other side of the motorway. There’s a selection of loose-leaf teas (with cups for one, pots for two or more), cake, an innovative hot food menu, and well-stocked deli and grocery counters.

April 2017: No 12 now has a little sibling, 25A Old Market. See what I made of it when I visited in March.

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Playground Coffee

The front of Playground Coffee, with the door to the right, window to the left and with a table and two chairs in front of the windowThere are a few games cafés dotted around the country, but Bristol’s Playground Coffee is the only one I know of that serves speciality coffee. Similarly, while Bristol has some excellent speciality coffee shops, this is the only one doubling as a games café. And it has swings. You really can’t go wrong when there are swings involved.

With a house espresso blend from local Roasted Rituals and  a regularly-rotating guest, Playground has the speciality side of things nailed. There’s also filter through V60, Aeropress, Chemex and Syphon, with beans from various guest roasters (the clothes line strung above the counter provides a who’s who of roasters which have graced Playground’s grinders). There’s also tea, hot chocolate and a small selection of cake.

I can’t comment on the games, save to say that there seemed to be a good selection on offer to borrow/play. Overall, Playground’s a small, cosy spot with a friendly, quirky atmosphere. This was aided by the lovely Francesca, who’d previously worked for Playground and the likes of Brighton’s Café Coho. She was minding the store for a week while the owners were on holiday in Berlin and it’s clear that they left things in good hands…

December 2016: I popped back to say hello and discovered that Playground now has a drinks licence and stays open until late each evening, serving wine, spirits and its very own coffee-infused gin! It's also moved over to be a full multi-roaster, with two single-origins on espresso, usually chosen to offer contrasting tastes, from a rotating cast of roasters.

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Small St Espresso

The exterior view of Small St Espresso on a rainy December day in BristolOn a small street in Bristol, aptly named Small Street, you will find the equally aptly-named Small St Espresso. It’s part of a growing speciality coffee hub right in the heart of the city which includes Full Court Press, Playground Coffee and the newly-opened Tincan Coffee Co.

Small St Espresso itself is a suitably small space, over-flowing with love for good coffee. You can sit outside on a bench or inside on some lovely, bespoke wooden furniture. At the back is a tiled counter and a beautiful La Marzocco FB80 espresso machine with a custom paint job. I know I shouldn’t be swayed by such superficial things, but I am.

It helps, of course, that the coffee is as beautiful as everything else in Small St Espresso. It would be a real shame if, after all that care and attention to the layout and the décor, the coffee had turned out to be rubbish. But fortunately, as much love, if not more, is put into making coffee than has been put into the shop. There’s a house-blend from Clifton Coffee Roasters, with regularly-rotating guests on espresso and filter. If you’re hungry, there’s an excellent range of cakes and toasted sandwiches.

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Society Café, Bristol

The main entrance to Society Cafe in Bristol, a pair of glass double-doors opening out onto Farr's Lane, with the counter directly ahead.I first came across Society in its home city of Bath, where I managed to visit the two branches in the order that they opened, a rarity for the Coffee Spot, starting with Kingsmead Square before moving onto The Corridor. However, I’ve safely broken that trend by skipping the third Society Café, in Oxford, instead visiting the fourth and most recent branch which opened this summer in Bristol.

You’ll find Society Café down by the harbour, on the corner of Narrow Quay and Farr’s Lane, right next to the youth hostel. It’s a lovely setting, with lots of outdoor seating on the quayside as well as down Farr’s Lane, while there is even more seating inside, spread over two large, spacious areas, one either side of a central counter.

The coffee is always of the highest order, with the house-espresso, which changes monthly, coming from Origin. This is joined by a guest single-origin which changes every couple of weeks. Meanwhile there’s bulk-brew filter and another option on Aeropress, both of which change every week or so. If you don’t fancy coffee, there’s a wide selection of tea, plus a dedicated smoothie-bar, as well as sandwiches and cake if you’re hungry.

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The Bristolian

The Bristolian Cafe on Picton Street, offering a warm welcome on a rainy December afternoonIf you know Stokes Croft in Bristol, then you’ll know that The Bristolian was a legend, supplier of fine breakfasts in the best greasy spoon tradition. What you might not know is that, after a short break over the summer (which felt much longer), the Bristolian is back, under new ownership, and it’s better than ever.

The new owners, Anna, Oliver and James, have pulled off an impressive trick in keeping the best of the old Bristolian and building on it. Now, as well as the legendary breakfasts, the Bristolian offers top-notch coffee, lovely cakes, and tapas. No, I wouldn’t have thought of doing tapas either, but what do I know? They’ve also spruced up the interior, bringing out the best in what was already a lovely space, and hired some excellent staff , who make it feel as if the whole place is smiling at you.

The result is the return of an old favourite coupled with the arrival of a new one, all in the same place. As if I didn’t have enough to do, what with all the other great places that I have to visit in Stokes Croft. Sometimes I think they do it just to spite me...

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@the Well

Three delightfully-sized pancakes at @theWell, along with a generous helping of maple syrup.@the Well is an intriguing concept: a laundrette, café and internet café all-in-one. I can’t comment on the laundrette part, but as a café, I love it. It seems a genius idea though: why not have a coffee or surf the net while you wait for your washing? @the Well is a family affair, run by three sisters, who confessed to starting it mainly as a café. Now, however, it’s used just as much as a laundrette.

Set back off Bristol’s busy Cheltenham Road, @the Well faces east, catching the morning sun. It’s got a small courtyard out front with a small table, although given the traffic, I’m not sure I’d want to sit outside. However, it does provide some shelter. Inside, it is bright, airy and welcoming, one of the nicest spaces I’ve been to in a long time.

@the Well has a limited menu and similarly limited range of coffee, so it might not be for everyone. Fortunately for me, it caters exactly to my tastes, with cafetieres of coffee and American-style pancakes. It’s also very laptop friendly, with free wifi and plenty of power outlets. On my visit, everyone was using either a laptop or a tablet!

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Tincan Coffee Co, North Street

The Tincan Coffee logo, taken from the brunch menu at the North Street branch in Southville, Bristol.Tincan Coffee Co started life with an old Citroën HY van. This turned into a fleet of vintage vans, serving coffee at events and festivals up and down the country.  Then, almost a year ago to the day, Tincan went into bricks and mortar, opening this branch on Bristol’s North Street, confusingly on the south side of the city in Southville. Now there is a second branch in the city centre and rumours of more to come.

Tincan Coffee Co occupies a bright, south-facing spot, with seating outside on busy street and plenty more inside. There’s a window bar, booths and a neat alcove at the back. Coffee is from the local Clifton Coffee Roasters, with a bespoke seasonal house-blend and rotating single-origins on guest espresso and bulk-brew filter. Meanwhile there’s tea from Manchester’s Brew Tea Co and hot chocolate from old friends, Kokoa Collection.

If you’re hungry, Tincan has made the most of being indoors with a proper kitchen, serving an excellent brunch menu from eight in the morning (nine on Sunday) until three in the afternoon. This is backed up by a range of toasties and an impressive selection of cake which is available throughout the day.

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Tradewind Espresso

a line-drawing of an old-fashioned ship, slung under a large, Victorian balloon.I’d heard quite a lot of good things about Tradewind Espresso, both on twitter and on my previous visit to Bristol in September last year, when it had only just opened. Sadly there wasn’t time to visit, so on my next trip, I ensured that I’d set aside a chunk of my schedule to take the train out to Clifton Down and to allow for the short climb up the Whiteladies Road.

What I hadn’t appreciated is that Tradewind Espresso was opened by local roasters, Roasted Rituals, which is making a name for itself in and around Bristol, supplying the likes of The Crazy Fox and Playground Coffee. Like Tradewind, I’d also heard good things about Roasted Rituals, which only increased my curiosity.

I needn’t have worried. Everything I’d been told about Tradewind and Roasted Rituals was true, and then some. Tradewind occupies a beautiful location, with a gorgeous interior, table service, a great food menu (all cooked downstairs in the kitchen), lots of lovely cakes and a limited selection of beer/wine. As well as Roasted Rituals’ Highground seasonal blend and a single-origin on espresso, there’s a selection of single-origins through the V60, plus the option of a four-cup cafetiere.

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Wainwright’s Speciality Coffee

The Wainwright's Speciality Coffee logo from the store in Clifton, Bristol.Bristol’s long been one of my favourite coffee cities, replete with any number of excellent establishments. Except, I’ve found, in Clifton. However, this has all changed in the last year with the emergence of Wainwright’s Speciality Coffee, a lovely spot on Regent Street, right in the heart of Clifton village.

That I found out about it at all was large due to a chance encounter in Full Court Press with Matt, of Leeds-based roasters, Maude Coffee. Matt told me all about Wainwright’s and, if that wasn’t enough, the next day, Alex of Bakesmiths was singing its praises, so off I went. And, in fairness, Mike Stanbridge also told me about it on twitter back in July.

Wainwright’s is a lovely spot, beautifully laid out, with some gorgeous lighting too. The new manager, Ben, has also upped the coffee game, with the house espresso from the local Clifton Coffee Roasters and a regularly-changing guest on the second grinder. There are also filter options through the V60 and Aeropress, each matched to a particular single-origin coffee. During my visit, Clifton was on the Aeropress, Maude on V60.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s hot chocolate from Kokoa Collection, and a decent breakfast/lunch menu based mostly around things on toast and sandwiches, all made using bread from Bakesmiths.

December 2019: I've just learnt (through Mike Stanbridge) that Wainwright's is now Foliage Cafe. I'm not sure what else (if anything) has changed.

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