Liverpool

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The Coffee Spot Guide to Liverpool

Liverpool's Royal Liver Building as seen from the Mersey Ferry. Built in 1911, it was the tallest building in the UK until 1961.In speciality coffee terms, Liverpool  has long been in the shadow of its neighbour and regional rival, Manchester, not that many Liverpudlians would admit that. However, in the last year or so, it’s been catching up quickly, with a spate of new openings (coffee shops and roasters) that shows no signs of slowing down.

I grew up not far from Liverpool (as the crow flies, at least). From the window of my parents’ house you could see, through a dip in the Wirral, the Liverpool skyline, the two Cathedrals standing out. The Liverpool of today is a far cry of the Liverpool of my childhood, a city reborn and reconnected to its waterfront. Many of the city’s attractions are within walking distance of Lime Street Station, including several world-class museums and, of course, the Beatles Experience.

However, it pays to get off the beaten track a little and explore, with areas like the Baltic Triangle springing up to rival the more established Bold Street/Duke Street scene. You can also find good coffee outside of the city centre if you know where to look.

As with all these guides, this is not, and does not claim to be, a comprehensive guide to Liverpool’s coffee scene, particularly not with the number of new places which are opening at the moment.


Header image: looking at the Liverpool skyline from the Mersey Ferry, with the Royal Liver Building on the left and the Radio City tower on the right. In the centre is the Port of Liverpool Building


Coffee Spots

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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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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Bold Street Coffee

The exterior of Bold Street Coffee, proudly proclaiming itself, on Bold Street, LiverpoolGiven the somewhat trying day I’d had, there was something reassuring about stepping into Liverpool’s Bold Street Coffee. It’s not what I’d call relaxing (think loud and busy) or even particularly comfortable (think plastic chairs over sofas), but it was indisputably my kind of place. One end of the counter was buckling under the weight of the interesting cakes, the other held an Aeropress brew bar, while in the middle, the bright red La Marzocco made a certain statement…

There’s also something about the way that the staff carry themselves which makes a statement: we know coffee, we’re passionate about coffee. I could write an essay on what it is that distinguishes (at a glance) those staff who have this passion and knowledge from those who are merely competent but indifferent and still not capture it. However, whatever it is, the two guys in Bold Street had it.

If tea is more your thing, then you’re in luck, since Bold Street carries a range of Waterloo Teas. If you’re looking for something more substantial than cake, then your luck’s also in, since Bold Street has decent breakfast (until 12:00, 16:00 at weekends) and lunch (12:00 until 16:00) menus too.

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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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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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Neighbourhood Coffee

The label from Neighbourhood Coffee's Ethiopia Sidamo Deri Kocha single-origin coffee, with the catchy name "I Still Haven't Ground What I'm Looking For".I first came across Liverpool’s Neighbourhood Coffee, the subject of today’s Meet the Roaster feature, at last year’s Cup North. While Neighbourhood only started roasting in 2015, its founders, Ed and Chris, have plenty of coffee experience between them, having previously worked for green-bean importers and African coffee specialists, Schluter. Spotting a gap in the Liverpool market, they set out to establish Liverpool’s first speciality coffee roastery.

Working from a very modern set-up in a railway arch just north of the city centre, Neighbourhood roasts on a 15kg Giesen, a Dutch roaster which I see popping up more and more frequently in UK roasteries. Neighbourhood roasts a couple of espresso blends and has four to six single-origins. You can now enjoy Neighbourhood’s coffee in select cafes in the Liverpool area, and, increasingly around the country, plus via the on-line shop.

Like many small and start-up roasters, roasting is a small part of what Neighbourhood does. A large part of the business is building a market for speciality coffee, as well as providing training and support for existing and new customers. As much space in the arch is given over to the large training suite as it is to the roaster.

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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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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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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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Map

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