Nest is one of the more recent additions to the booming Brighton coffee scene that I wrote about in my latest Caffeine Magazine article. Located in the North Laines area, it’s easy to miss since it’s not on a main thoroughfare. However, it’s well worth tracking down.
Nest is the sort of place that put the lounge into coffee lounge: a relaxed, chilled-out space where you could easily end up spending all day without quite meaning to. It helps that the coffee is excellent, as are the cakes, and there’s more than enough food to keep you going through the day!
Seating-wise, you have the choice of downstairs at the back, or the slightly quieter upstairs. Both have fairly standard tables and chairs and, surprisingly for such a laid-back place, there is only one sofa, tucked away in a corner upstairs. On the other hand, more sofas might mean that no-one would actually ever leave! Large windows dominate the front of Nest, which, coupled with a window at the back and the clever use of mirrors, mean that the interior is very bright. This is also true upstairs, where windows front and back provide plenty of light.
April 2015: Nest is no more, having been taken over and renamed Jolliffes at the start of March. You can see what I made of the new place…
… or you can read my thoughts on the original Nest after the gallery.
Tucked away on Kensington Gardens in Brighton’s North Laines, Nest celebrates its first birthday at Christmas, making it something of a newcomer on the Brighton coffee scene. It’s a short walk from the station and not far from more established names such as Coffee@33 and Taylor Street Baristas, but is completely different in character from these two stalwarts.
Nest doesn’t jump out and grab you from the street, which probably suits its laid-back atmosphere. However, on stepping inside, I immediately liked the place. There’s a large counter to the left, which looks as if it’s been made from a giant Jenga set. It’s front-loaded with cake, while the espresso machine is at the far end. Beyond that, seating dominates the back of the room, with an enticing flight of stairs on the left leading upwards. This has helpful coffee facts painted on the front of the steps which you can read on your way up (for example: “brewed espresso has 2.5% fat, while filtered coffee contains 0.6% fat”).
I headed that way and found a delightful high-ceilinged room sitting over the top of the shop, occupying the space under the roof. It’s about half the size of downstairs but since it doesn’t have the counter, it’s got roughly the same number of seats. While the downstairs seating is at the back and hence fairly isolated from the hustle and bustle of the front of the shop, it’s even quieter upstairs.
With a couple of well-stocked bookshelves and free Wifi, Nest sets its stall out for those wishing to linger over their coffee. This is helped by the relaxed, friendly atmosphere, both upstairs and down. I loved the bare wooden floors, whitewashed walls, and quiet, unobtrusive background music, which all added to the mood, as did the friendly staff. Local art, from rubandagarart, adorns the walls, adding the finishing touches to the place.
Nest is another Has Bean outpost, but this no longer fills me with the same sort of fear that it once did. Nest’s house blend is Blake, which is not quite as fruity/acidic as other Has Beans I’ve tried. Given my recent experiences with Has Bean, I probably should have gone with an espresso, but after a long discussion with the barista, I went for a macchiato instead. There was nothing wrong with my coffee, but there was a certain dryness to it and it didn’t reach the heights of some other Has Beans I’ve tried with milk, which makes me think I’d have preferred it as a straight espresso.
However, while there might have been a mild anti-climax when it came to the coffee, the cake was absolutely amazing. The barista recommended the Bakewell tart, which is always a bit of a risk, since I am something of a Bakewell aficionado as well as making a mean tart myself. However, this pretty much took my breath away. For starters, it was made with real raspberries and whole almonds. It also had, in addition to a thin pastry base, another layer of pastry on top. In between was an excellent, crumbly cake, with a very generous layer of raspberry jam at the bottom. All-in-all, I’m not convinced it could be bettered!
|35 KENSINGTON GARDENS • NORTH LAINES • BRIGHTON • BN1 4AL|
|Monday||10:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, sofas, bench outside|
|Tuesday||10:00 – 17:00||Food||Breakfast, lunch, cake|
|Wednesday||10:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at counter|
|Thursday||10:00 – 17:00||Cards||Visa, Mastercard|
|Friday||10:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Saturday||10:00 – 17:30||Power||Limited|
|Sunday||10:00 – 17:00||Mobile||3G, Voice|
|Chain||No||Visits||6th September 2013|
If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, check out the rest of Brighton and Hove’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Brighton & Hove.
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