Hidden away down a little alley in the centre of Leighton Buzzard is the appropriately-named House of Coffee. Well, I say appropriately, but really, it’s not a house and it sells tea as well! However, in light of what’s to come, I shall overlook these little faux pas.
My minor quibbles aside, the House of Coffee does coffee. It’s a coffee bean roaster and retailer, with a side line in coffee-making equipment and the aforementioned tea. It’s not huge, just a small, two-roomed shop, with the coffee roaster in the first room and the coffee making gear in the back (sadly the roaster wasn’t running when I was there, but you can, if you’re lucky, catch it in action). Opposite the roaster is the House of Coffee’s eponymous range of beans.
The best thing, apart from the excellent coffee, is the owner, Nick, aka Hectic Hamster. Here is a man with a true passion for and knowledge of coffee. I had a lovely time chatting away with him, which made the visit worthwhile by itself. However, if you can’t get to Leighton Buzzard, then never fear: all The House of Coffee’s excellent wares are available on-line through the website.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
My trip to visit The House of Coffee turned into something of an epic, but it was well worth the effort. I had planned to call as part of a trip north, but when I called The House of Coffee, Nick told me that he closed at four. Given that it was already past two and I hadn’t even left Guildford, I knew I was going to be pushing it. In fairness to Nick, he did say that normally he’d stay open if he knew that someone was coming, but that day he had deliveries to make, so couldn’t.
Instead I decided to catch The House of Coffee on my way back south. I arrived in good time, but then spent ages wandering around Leighton Buzzard town centre, eventually locating it, hidden away down a back alley! However, Nick was out making deliveries, so I got sent to the excellent Green House (which will feature as a future Coffee Spot) and came back at four. Nick, true to his word, then stayed open for another 45 minutes to chat with me while I bought beans and sundry coffee-making kit. Customer service like this is worth its weight in coffee beans!
As nice as Nick is, The House of Coffee stands or falls by the quality of its coffee and, fortunately, it’s excellent. All the beans are roasted on site, except the flavoured coffees (sorry, no, I like my coffee coffee-flavoured). I was spoilt for choice, but, on Nick’s recommendation, I went for the Dolce Scuro, the Breakfast Blend and the Kenyan Peaberry, although there lots of very tempting beans on offer.
This choice is unusual for me, since, other than for espresso, I am very much a single original man. However, I was sufficiently impressed with Nick’s knowledge and passion that I went with his recommendations and was glad that I did. The Dolce Scuro was truly excellent, a rich, dark roasted blend that packs a punch. Were I not so loyal to my local coffee bean supplier, the excellent Coffee Charisma, I would be tempted to make it my go-to coffee of choice.
I’m also fond of the Breakfast Blend, which I’ve been having with my breakfast: it’s a nice, smooth coffee for the morning, but I’d want something with a bit more punch for every day drinking. The only one I didn’t get on with was, ironically, the single origin, the Kenyan Peaberry. This is more to do with my love-hate relationship with this bean than with Nick’s roasting. If I get it just right, the Peaberry can be excellent, but 90% of the time I get it wrong…
Nick said that The House of Coffee’s been around for 30 years and I can believe it from its looks. However, there’s nothing ancient about Nick and his approach to selling coffee. He’s at the cutting edge and is out there on the web, so even if you can’t get to Leighton Buzzard, there’s no excuse for not trying some of his beans. The website itself is worth a visit, if only for the excellent video which takes you through the whole roasting process.
Finally, I bought a milk-frother and an AeroPress. It took me around five months and a chance encounter at the Caffé Culture Show before I came to love the AeroPress, while the milk-frother is gathering dust, made redundant by my Rancilio Silvia and then by my Sage Barista Express.
|3 PEACOCK PARADE • LAKE STREET • LEIGHTON BUZZARD • LU7 1JH|
|http://www.thehouseofcoffee.co.uk/||+44 (0) 1525 381551|
|Monday||09:00 – 16:00||Roaster||House of Coffee|
|Tuesday||09:00 – 16:00||Seating||N/A|
|Wednesday||09:00 – 16:00||Food||N/A|
|Friday||09:00 – 16:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||09:00 – 16:00||Wifi||N/A|
|Chain||No||Visits||17th November 2012|
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