Boston Tea Party, Park Street

A latte with a fern-leaf motif in the milkThe Boston Tea Party on Park Street, Bristol, is the original Boston Tea Party and, for me, the original coffee shop. I’m sitting on the second of the four terraces in the garden at the back of the café as I type, revelling in the late summer afternoon sun, but I’d be equally happy upstairs on a sofa or at one of the little tables. In my mind’s eye, I’m always here, writing a postcard on the terrace or chatting the afternoon away, putting the world to rights in the upstairs lounge.

There’s a background hum of chatter from the other tables and the gentle clink of cutlery. There’s a mother and daughter catching up over a pot of tea, schoolgirls giggling over a couple of smoothies, two teachers talking business over a latte, a father and his friend stopping by for coffee with baby in tow. And me, blogging over my coffee and cake…

I’ve always felt this special affinity for the Boston Tea Party, a feeling that’s not easy to put into words. However, read on and I will try…

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The Boston Tea Party, Park Street, where it all began, from 2012.
  • Roll forward to 2015 and not much has changed.
  • Downstairs, where you come in, order & collect at the right-hand end of the counter.
  • Cake!
  • If you want, you can perch on a high chair in the window and watch the world go by.
  • More window seats, this time on the opposite side of the door.
  • If you don't want to sit inside, you can take your coffee out into the garden.
  • An excellent espresso, short & strong.
  • Pretty patterns in my latte; the young lady serving me thought she didn't do a great job!
  • Lasting impressions: the latte art was so well done, it was there at the bottom of the cup...
  • Full House! Espresso, latte and caramel shortbread (& glass of water, of course).
  • An espresso's eye-view of the terrace at the back of the Boston Tea Party.
  • The terrace, as seen from the back door. My table is on the far left on the 2nd terrace.
  • The third row of the terrace, as seen from my table. The different rows are well screened by the plants, giving the terrace a more intimate feel.
  • The fourth and final row of the terrace.
  • The garden, looking down from the back row. You can see my latop on my table to the right.
  • However, if you turn right when you step into the garden, you'll find a recent addition...
  • ... a whole new second garden, complete with its own terraces!
  • For more recent changes, head upstairs.
  • The upstairs lounge, complete with tables and comfortable chairs, as seen in 2012...
  • ... and seen here in 2015. The furniture's been rearranged, but not much else has changed.
  • For example, this sofa is still in place, as is the picutre, one of several original works of art that help give the Boston Tea Party its unique feel
  • Another view of the upstairs lounge, taken from the back in 2015.
  • However, 90 degrees to your right and what was once a wall now leads into another room!
  • Like the original upstairs lounge, this one stretches from the back of the building...
  • ... all the way to the front! Check out the lovely red bench on the left-hand wall.
  • Meanwhile, the tables down the right-hand side each have their own window...
  • ... while this one at the front takes pride of place.
  • From here you can see where the Starbucks across the road used to be...
  • I'll leave you with the obligatory light-fitting shot.
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In some ways, you can say that this is where it all started. Not the devotion to coffee, but the love of coffee shops and cafés, the idea that pleasure could be gained by going to a good café as an end in itself. Now it’s one of my favourite things to do.

I really had no idea what a coffee shop could be until I first came to the Boston Tea Party on Park Street about 15 years ago. It was a real eye-opener, a revelation if you like. This is the archetype, the gold standard that I mentally compare all coffee shops to. Even now, a visit to Bristol wouldn’t be the same without a stroll down to Park Street and a coffee or two in the Boston Tea Party.

The world has moved on since then and excellence is much more common place. There are also a wide variety of coffee shops and cafés and I like all sorts of styles; somewhere doesn’t have to be like the Boston Tea Party for me to appreciate it. Despite this, the Boston Tea Party remains one of my favourite places and, as far as I’m concerned, it has yet to be bettered.

Despite the name, the Boston Tea Party really is all about the coffee. Don’t worry, tea lovers, they do your drink as well, but for me it’s always been about the coffee. The benchmark, the espresso from the local Extract Coffee Roasters, is very short, with a really full body and excellent crema. It is ever so slightly too bitter for my taste, but that’s being really picky. If everyone made their espresso like this, I’d be more than happy.

However, I first started coming here before I developed my taste for espresso (it’s fair to say that I didn’t really get espresso until I first visited Rome in 2000; then I GOT espresso). So, for a while, my favourite drink was the Boston Tea Party latte. Served in a deep, round mug, I still have a fondness for it and it’s still what I expect a latte to be if I order one somewhere else. I’m always a little disappointed, for example, when someone serves me a latte in a tall mug (I know, I’m strange like that). It’s just not the done thing…

The Boston Tea Party was also the first place I saw a latte art, the pattern drawn in the micro-foamed milk. I know practically everyone does it now, but I’d never seen it before I came here. To this day, the Boston Tea Party draws lovely fern leaves on its latte, so much so that the young lady serving me today got all nervous when she found out I was going to take a photo of it. She thought it wouldn’t be good enough; I’ll let you be the judge of that.

I’m aware that I haven’t really told you anything concrete about the Boston Tea Party. Well, tough. Sometimes facts just don’t do a place justice. There is something about the Boston Tea Party that makes coming down to Park Street like coming home. Whether it’s sitting out on the terraced patio at the back (one of the few outside areas I enjoy sitting in), or disappearing into one of the sofas in the upstairs room, I feel I belong here.

Pay it a visit. Go on, you know you want to…

You can see what I made of all the other branches of the Boston Tea Party that I’ve visited. You can also see what I made of the Park Street branch when I returned three years later.

75 PARK STREET • BRISTOL • BS1 5PF +44 (0)117 929 8601
Monday 07:00 – 20:00 Roaster Extract (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 20:00 Seating Tables, Comfy Chairs, Sofas, Bar, Outside
Wednesday 07:00 – 20:00 Food Cakes, Breakfast, Lunch
Thursday 07:00 – 20:00 Service Counter (Order at Counter for food)
Friday 07:00 – 20:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 07:00 – 20:00 Wifi Free
Sunday 08:00 – 19:00 Power A few
Chain Regional Visits Original: 7th September 2012
Update: 20th September 2015

If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, check out the rest of Bristol’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Bristol.

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28 thoughts on “Boston Tea Party, Park Street

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  2. I’ve got to say you’ve summed it up perfectly. It all started at BTP on park street for me too albeit 7 years ago. Coffee is now one of my passions and I always measure my latte against BTP. Excellent!!!

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  12. Sadly, it all started for me here in ’95/96, whenever it first opened, but things have very much changed for the worse. Too crammed, too complicated, too much marketing. Seeing Brakes vans pulling up outside also makes a mockery of their ethical claims.

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