The 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).
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
FCP joins near-neighbours Wild at Heart (also sadly closed), a few doors down on Broad Street, and Small Street Espresso (next street over), to form the nexus of Bristol’s emerging speciality coffee scene. Ten months in the planning, it looked at one point as if FCP was going to open before its neighbours and the other newcomer, Didn’t You Do Well. However, delays in gaining access to the shop put things back and, incidentally, led to an increased sense of anticipation as word spread, particularly on twitter.
Therefore expectations were extraordinarily high, but I have to say that FCP has, on first showing, more than lived up to them. I can see why Mat stuck to his guns, despite the difficulties in actually getting into the premises. He’s created something special: large windows at the front let in a generous amount of light and Mat has been careful not to cram too much in the interior. There is a spacious bar on the left as you come in, with three square tables opposite it. Beyond that, the building narrows a little and there is room for one more table by a fireplace and two small bars opposite it. A stained-glass window provides light at the back, while a spiral staircase just inside the front door leads to a basement that one day might become additional seating space.
Mat explained that it’s an Arts-and-Crafts movement building, with roots that might go back as far as medieval times. The lovely fireplace and stained-glass window date from the 19th century, as does the storefront. Mat confessed that working in such an old building limited his options, but he’s worked with what he’s got to make a magical space.
The coffee is equally special. FCP offers four beans, two as espresso and two as filter (one Clever dripper, one Aeropress). One of the espresso beans, Extract’s Konga 1 Yigacheffe had just run out (to be replaced the next day by Square Mile’s Red Brick). The other, which my friend had as a flat white, was Round Hill’s Mugomera. I had Workshop’s Irupana (the Clever dripper option), while the other filter bean was a Tolima Vista Hermosa from Peter James (Aeropress option). To round things off, FCP keeps a bottle of cold brew below the counter, which is whipped out, like a speakeasy in Prohibition days, to tempt the more refined customer.
I tasted the flat white, which I’d have loved to try as a straight espresso, but I needed to pace myself (having promised Kit from Wild At Heart that I’d pop over there afterwards). Meanwhile, the Irupana was delightful, easy on the palette, smooth and full-bodied. FCP (like Didn’t You Do Well) is quite insistent that you don’t put milk in its filter coffee and sugar in any of its coffee. On this offering I can see why: it would have been a crime to put anything in the coffee I had.
To round things off, FCP is another Bristol coffee spot offering Hart’s Bakery’s range of outstanding cakes. I had a cinnamon bun, while my friend had a chocolate brownie which went so quickly that I never got a chance taste or photograph it! Not that it mattered, since the cinnamon bun was so good that I thought I’d died and gone to bun heaven.
October 2015: see what I found when I explored Full Court Press Coffee’s basement…
|59 BROAD STREET • BRISTOL • BS1 2EJ|
|www.fcpcoffee.com||+44 (0) 7794 808552|
|Monday||07:30 – 17:00||Roasters||Guests (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Bar; Bench (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 17:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||07:30 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 17:00||Cards||Visa, Mastercard|
|Saturday||09:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free|
|Sunday||10:00 – 16:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||Original: 2nd May 2013|
|Update: 20th September 2015|
You can see what fellow coffee-blogger Alison (now owner of BLK Coffee in Newcastle) made of Full Court Press.
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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I’m intrigued by the ‘cold brew’ reference. I have no idea what it actually is, but it sounds jolly interesting! As ever, I enjoyed the photographs. Bristol sounds like a place to visit even if only for the coffee.
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We’re very fortunate indeed in Bristol at the moment with all these speciality coffee shops opening. But on the other side of the coin, several cafes have also closed recently.
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