Close enough to Shrewsbury Station to be worth running out for a quick visit when changing trains, the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse is a delightful place. In fact, it’s so delightful, it’s worth making sure you have about an hour between trains so you can pay it a proper visit!
Many things mark the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse as something special, starting with the friendly, welcoming staff who add so much to the atmosphere. Then there’s the space itself, bright and airy, with lots of seating options and a cosy basement for those winter days when you just want to spend all snuggling up with a cup of coffee.
Which brings me to the main point of a coffeehouse, the coffee. The Shrewsbury Coffeehouse serves Has Bean. Oh well, I thought to myself, can’t have everything. Except… I really liked the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse’s house blend. That was two Has Bean espressos I liked in the space of a week! What’s the world coming to? As well as the house blend, the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse does single origin Sundays, showcasing Has Bean’s extensive range.
After all that, I had to have a slice of cake to calm me down. And excellent cake it was too!
January 2016: the talented Cherie Jerrard is displaying some of her excellent cafe illustrations at the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse until the end of February. Pop along and have a look if you can, or take a look at my pictures at the end of the gallery. You can also read a little piece that Cherie wrote about the exhibition and see what I made of it in the Saturday Supplement.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
You can actually see the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse from the front of Shrewsbury Station. Quite how I’d managed not to visit it before now, I’m not quite sure since I go through Shrewsbury Station three or four times a year. Ironically, I came by car for this visit…
The Coffeehouse is a beautiful space. The (almost) floor-to-ceiling windows let in plenty of natural light, which, combined with the high ceiling, give it a bright, airy feel. It’s slightly wedge-shaped, narrowing towards the back. There are tables in the window to the right of the door and a bar against the window to the left. Immediately next to that, stairs lead down to the basement, while beyond them, on the left-hand side, is the counter, cakes to the fore, espresso machine at the back. The bulk of the seating is opposite the counter, with two rows of tables, one running down the middle of the room and the other up against a padded bench on the right-hand wall. A very comfortable-looking sofa occupies the far corner.
Downstairs there’s another bar on the left as you come down the stairs. More small, round tables run around the edge of the room, surrounding a centrepiece of three sofas and a coffee table right in the middle. Although there’s lots of seating both upstairs and down, it doesn’t feel crammed in. While it was busy, I never felt like someone was looking over my shoulder and there are plenty of nooks and crannies where you can squirrel yourself away if that’s your desire.
The Coffeehouse has a lovely atmosphere, added to by the wonderfully friendly and welcoming staff who made me feel right at home. I’m always amazed when places don’t have friendly staff, taking it as a given, but the folks at the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse took friendliness to another level. The atmosphere was rounded off by occasional (very quiet) music.
So, to the coffee. The Shrewsbury Coffeehouse uses Has Bean, so I went for a flat white, which was excellent. There was good body to the milk, and the coffee came through strongly. However, it had quite a bitter after-taste, something I didn’t expect from a Has Bean.
It was lunchtime, so I skipped cake and had an onion bhaji wrap, because it’s not something you see every day. It came lightly toasted with a very fine side-salad, complete with an interesting dressing. The bhaji itself was quite spicy which livened things up (in a good way).
While I ate it, the cakes on the counter kept looking at me in the way that cakes do. Eventually I cracked and had a slice of the Bourbon butterscotch cake (having narrowed the selection down from my original “all of them”). Momentarily forgetting that this was a Has Bean outpost, I rashly ordered an espresso, which, to my surprise, I really, really liked!
It was short, the perfect temperature, with just a hint of acidity in the second mouthful, easily the best Has Bean I’ve had! I talked to the staff and was told that the espresso blend was exclusive to the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse, but would be changing in the near future. This new blend was, according to the barista, “even better”! I’ve already pencilled in my return!
|5 CASTLE GATES • SHREWSBURY • SY1 2AE|
|http://shrewsburycoffeehouse.co.uk||+44 (0) 1743 242 610|
|Monday||07:30 – 19:00||Roaster||Has Bean (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 19:00||Seating||Tables, Bar, Sofas (upstairs/downstairs)|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 19:00||Food||Sandwiches, Cake|
|Thursday||07:30 – 19:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 19:00||Cards||Amex, Visa, Mastercard|
|Saturday||08:00 – 19:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 16:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||24th September 2013, 5th February 2016|
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