Today’s Coffee Spot sees us staying in Shrewsbury with what is simultaneously a new name and a familiar face. The Condor is the new name, spiritual successor to English Bridge Coffee, occupying the same space at the end/start of Wyle Cop, next to the English Bridge. The familiar face is Raúl, who has taken the strengths of what went before (excellent, multi-roaster single-origin coffee and a warm welcome) while adding South American street food to the mix (with more than a nod to his Chilean heritage).
There have been other changes since my first visit almost exactly a year ago. Although the basic layout remains the same, the interior has had a make-over, the counter now forming an L-shape in the back, right-hand corner. This has simultaneously added a new seating area on the left-hand side while also seeming to give Raúl more space behind the counter, which is a neat trick. There have been changes on the coffee side as well. While remaining true to the ideal of being a multi-roaster, serving the best single-origin coffee from around the country, Raúl has added batch-brew filter and V60 pour-overs to the espresso-only menu that I remember from my original visit.
Much has changed in Shrewsbury’s speciality coffee scene since my previous visit almost exactly a year ago, including the closure of The Colonel’s Son and the evolution of The Condor/English Bridge Coffee. Into this mix comes the latest addition, Pont, on Wyle Cop, a lovely little bakery, which opened two months ago, specialising in patisserie.
Pont’s owner, Lauren, can be found in the bakery behind the counter from the small hours of the morning onwards, where she and her team turn out an array of pastries, cakes and a limited selection of loaves and sandwiches. There’s also coffee, from old friends Hundred House Coffee, whose Bon Bon blend and Colombian decaf are available via a concise, espresso-based menu. Although primarily serving the to-go market (so don’t forget to bring your own cup), Pont has an outside table for two in front of the window to the left of the door.
My introduction to speciality coffee in Melbourne came via Coffee Black Coffee’s container on Queensbridge Square on the south bank of the Yarra River, opposite Flinders Street Station and the Central Business District. Each of my first four days in Melbourne began with the five-minute walk from our hotel to the open spaces of Queensbridge Square where I had a flat white, as well as picking up a coffee for Amanda, which I took back to the hotel.
Code Black Coffee occupies a converted shipping container, appropriately painted black, on the western edge of Queensbridge Square, its back to Queens Bridge Street. Six round tables are arranged in two rows in front of the container should you want to stay, although everything is served in disposable cups, so don’t forget to bring your own. All the coffee is roasted in-house, with a blend and single-origin available (either hot or cold) through a simple espresso-based menu, while another single-origin is on batch-brew filter. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, Code Black has a small range of cakes/pastries.
Sydney was my final stop on this year’s Australia trip and, in many ways, I’d saved the best until last. Good coffee abounds in Sydney and top of my list was one of the city’s pioneers, Single O, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. And where better to start than Single O’s flagship café in Surry Hills, the place where it all began 20 years ago? Except, of course, my first introduction to Single O came five years earlier at its Tasting Bar in the Single O Roastery in Tokyo. Oh well…
The Surry Hills café is long and thin, split into separate sit-in and takeaway sections either side of the central counter. There’s also plenty of seating outside. Originally the back of the café was home to the roastery. This is long since gone, but Single O still roasts all its coffee, with two blends and a rotating single-origin on espresso, two single-origins on batch-brew filter (both on tap!), plus cold brew and two tasting flights, with all the beans available to buy in retail bags. There are also juices, beer and wine, while the large all-day brunch menu means you’re equally well catered for when it comes to food.
I discovered Way Speciality Coffee Roasters in March, when I stopped in Ghent my way back from my trip to Amsterdam. European Coffee Trip led me to Way Coffee & Book Shop on Voldersstraat in the historic city centre, where I had a chance meeting with Ward, Way’s co-owner and head roaster, who invited me to the Way Roastery & Shop the following Monday (Way also has a bakehouse and café on Jakobijnenstraat 7 which I didn’t manage to visit).
Way Roastery & Shop is in Dok Noord, an old industrial complex that’s been redeveloped into a residential, office and leisure hub, a 25-minute walk or short tram ride north of the centre. Way occupies part of what was once a washing machine factory, housing a spacious café, showroom and roastery. Today’s Coffee Spot is all about the café, with the roastery featuring in its own Meet the Roaster feature in due course.
Way only roasts single-origins and is entirely plant-based (vegan). There’s a choice of the house espresso (from Brazil) plus a single-origin on espresso, along with two choices (Brazil plus another single-origin) on batch-brew filter and a wide selection on pour-over through the V60 or AeroPress.
Bread & Friends is a welcome addition to Portland’s speciality coffee scene, which opened in April this year in a lovely old brick building in the heart of downtown Portland (Maine). Although the location, on Fore Street, between Monument Square and the waterfront, is new, Bread & Friends has been around for a while, popping up at farmers’ markets around Maine, selling its artisan bread.
However, Fore Street is a whole new venture for Bread & Friends, which mills its own flour and bakes all the bread, pastries and cakes on site, selling them fresh each day from racks behind the counter. The four friends behind Bread & Friends could have stopped there, but inside they have added a coffee shop/brunch restaurant spread across two rooms which wrap around the on-site bakery. There’s also a row of tables outside on Fore Street.
This is no ordinary bakery café though. Rather than settle for the ordinary, Bread & Friends has created something amazing on Fore Street. The food is outstanding, while the coffee, from Bolt Coffee in Providence, is very bit as good, with the Seven Hills blend and decaf on espresso, joined by the Mass Appeal blend on batch-brew filter.
One of the neat things about being a regular visitor to Portland (Maine) is that I’ve been able to watch Tandem Coffee Roasters evolve over the last eight years. Tandem has two locations, Tandem Coffee + Bakery (cunningly disguised as a gas station on Congress Street) and the subject of today’s Coffee Spot Update, Tandem Cafe & Roastery on Anderson Street in Portland’s East End. This has undergone two large overhauls since my first visit in 2015, when I came to Maine to begin my coast-to-coast train journey from Portland to Portland.
The first overhaul came when the roastery moved into a separate building behind the original. I reported on this and the subsequent remodelling of the cafe in 2020, publishing my Coffee Spot Update less than a month before the COVID-19 pandemic swept around the world. This resulted in the cafe closing its doors for over two years, from March 2020 until May 2022, although the roastery kept going the whole time. However, one good thing that came out of the enforced closure was that it gave Tandem the time and space to undertake a complete remodelling of the café, which is the subject of today’s Coffee Spot Update.
Black Fox Coffee is the final Coffee Spot from last September’s visit to New York City. Fittingly, since I started my Manhattan write-ups with a recommendation from my friend Bex (of Double Skinny Macchiato), Black Fox is another of Bex’s many NYC recommendations. Black Fox is an interesting concept, being both a roaster in its own right and also a multi-roaster, featuring guests from around the world on batch-brew filter, alongside its own coffee on espresso, with all the coffee available in retail bags in store and online.
There are currently five Black Foxes around Manhattan, with today’s Coffee Spot located on W 33rd Street in Midtown. It occupies a spot on the ground floor of the Pendry Hotel and, while a door leads directly from the hotel lobby to the coffee shop, it’s a completely standalone operation. There’s no seating inside, and although it has a couple of tables outside, Black Fox only uses disposable cups, so don’t forget to bring your own. If you’re hungry, there’s a small selection of cakes and pastries.
We’re back in New York City with today’s Coffee Spot, another recommendation from my friend and fellow coffee blogger, Bex. Paper Coffee is one of several speciality coffee shops within a few blocks of my midtown hotel, where I stayed during my visit in September last year, although ironically it’s in the lobby of another hotel, Made Hotel, on W 29th Street.
Although very much part of the hotel, Paper Coffee operates as a standalone coffee shop with a counter and its own seating at the front of the lobby. However, you’re very welcome to take your coffee and sit anywhere in the lobby, including at the bar in the back, where you’ll find some sofas and armchairs. There’s also a patio upstairs, but that’s only for hotel guests.
Paper currently uses Variety Coffee Roasters from Brooklyn, with a single-origin and decaf on espresso and another single-origin on batch-brew filter, the specific options changing every two weeks. There’s also tea, beer (in cans) and a selection of wine available from the counter, while from 5pm each day, the lobby bar is also open and serving. Finally, if you’re hungry, there’s a small range of grab-and-go sandwiches, plus cakes and pastries.
Regular readers know that I love a good market, so it’s fitting that today’s Saturday Short takes us to Chester, where the new Chester Market, part of the Northgate development, opened in November last year. And even better, from the Coffee Spot’s perspective, one of the founding tenants in none other than Bean & Cole, with the unit in the market joining the original coffee shop on Frodsham Street.
Bean & Cole occupies a simple counter towards the back of the new market, although you’re welcome to take your coffee to any of the market’s extensive seating areas, inside or out. Even better, the friendly baristas will bring your coffee to you and, what’s more, it will be served in a proper cup! Best of all, though, is the choice of beans, with Assembly on espresso, along with a guest roaster in the second hopper, while for filter, there’s a choice of pour-over or batch-brew (both from Square Mile during my visit). Finally, if you’re hungry, Bean & Cole has its usual range of cakes/pastries.