Torre Coffee

Torre Coffee, from the sign hanging outside the shop: the words "torre coffee" written in a cursive script, cream on brown.I’m rather annoyed that I didn’t discover Torre Coffee on my previous visit to Cardiff almost exactly a year ago. However, back then Torre had only been open a few weeks, so I could perhaps be excused. I almost missed it on this trip too, but am indebted to a tip-off on twitter a few days before my visit, which reminded me to add it to my list.

To have missed Torre a second time would have been a terrible shame. An Italian-Romanian collaboration in the heart of the Welsh capital, serving James Gourmet Coffee from Ross-on-Wye on the English side of the Welsh border, Torre is a lovely place, which gives you a warm, friendly welcome. Torre’s owned by Silvia (Romania) and her husband, Ruggero (Italy), who came to Cardiff specifically to set up Torre, having been inspired by the coffee shops of Edinburgh. Cunningly, I’d timed my visit to coincide with their day off, but I did meet Silvia’s sister, Roxana, who was holding the fort (castle?) with her boyfriend.

As well as the usual espresso-based coffee menu, there’s bulk-brew filter, loose-leaf tea, full breakfast and lunch menus, plus pastries and cakes, the latter baked on the premises.

March 2016: Sadly Torre has closed and will be sadly missed.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Torre Coffee, on Cardiff's Castle Street, right next to the Castle Arcade.
  • The outdoor seats are small, but functional...
  • ... while the A-board promises many delights inside.
  • And here we are: a panoramic view of Torre from just inside the door. Please excuse the disembodied pair of legs!
  • There's a neat bar in the window with a great view of the castle.
  • A view of the counter, to your left as you come in...
  • ... and as seen from the back of the store. Kate & I really liked its layout/design.
  • Some of the seating on the right-hand side, opposite the counter
  • The view from the counter, looking towards the back. That's Kate's 'not another photo' look.
  • I was very taken with the mock-up library nook just beyond the counter.
  • If you don't fancy the bar, there's a little table here too.
  • The water station is worth a second look. The jugs (and crockery in general) are lovely.
  • Opposite this is a little table with two stools.
  • I was also very fond of the picture that was hanging above the table.
  • Talking of which, Torre has some great art on the walls; this is by Paul Anthony O'Donnell.
  • A more detailed view of the main seating area at the back of Torre.
  • I particularly liked the sofas. This one, to the right...
  • ... and the other, to the left.
  • The breakfast and lunch menus were very tempting, but it was a bit late in the day...
  • Cake, on the other hand... Yes, please!
  • Cake and quiche. A winning combination.
  • Or you could try pastries or cookies...
  • ... or more pastries...
  • ... or how about some bread?
  • I think I'll have some coffee please... What have you got?
  • Ah, James Gourmet. That will do nicely!
  • Our spread. This is the one decent picture I managed of the lovely plates...
  • Once I'd introduced myself, Roxana laid out some cakes for me to photograph.
  • A close-up of the chocolate cake (for Claire).
  • A chocolate cookie. Having passed on the cake, I felt obliged to eat this one.
  • There was also plenty of latte-art on display, ranging from a standard fern leaf...
  • ... through this sunset...
  • ... to my personal favourite, this rose.
Photo Carousel by v4.6

Torre Coffee, on Cardiff’s Castle Street, is opposite the Castle itself (Torre means “Castle” in Italian, by the way). Immediately to the left of the Castle Street entrance to the Castle Arcade (home of Coffee Barker), it’s not that much to look at from the outside, a couple of arched windows and a pair of seats tucked behind the A-board on the pavement.

Stepping inside, Torre stretches out before you. Although it’s fairly wide, Torre is also very deep, giving lots of room for seating towards the back. Although it’s a single room, giving Torre a great sense of space, it’s effectively split into three distinct spaces, starting as you come in. Immediately to your left is a neat window bar with four stools and beyond that, a large, welcoming counter. Along the right-hand wall, opposite the counter, is a row of round tables with comfortable chairs.

The second space starts beyond the counter, where, on the left, there’s another bar, this one in a lovely little nook done out as a library. Although this is only wallpaper rather than actual books, it’s really effective. There’s also another round table in the nook, while on the opposite side of the room is another round table and a smaller, high table with a couple of stools.

The third space is beyond this at the back, and it has the bulk of the seating. There are a couple of large, comfortable sofas, one on either side, while behind them there’s a couple of large (one four- and one six-person) tables on the right and two small tables on the left.

All credit to Torre, this is not a promising space and could easily feel cramped and gloomy, particularly given the low ceiling. However, by resisting cramming too much in, Torre has given it a very spacious feel. Even so, across all three spaces, you could comfortably fit 40 people in. The décor also helps: white walls at the front and pale, painted brick at the back, combine with a wooden floor and white ceiling to make the most of the natural light that floods in at the front. It really is a cleverly-constructed space. I particularly liked the counter, a wonderful wooden construction with some glorious lights.

So, to business. I had an espresso, a Bolivian Copacabana, which might be the first James Gourmet Coffee espresso I’ve had. If so, I’ve been missing out. It was lovely, dark and strong without being bitter, and very smooth: a fine cup of coffee. I followed that up (at Roxana’s insistence) with a cappuccino which was just as good. Kate, my tea-drinking friend, had the Earl Grey, which she pronounced to be very good. All the tea is loose-leaf and is served in individual tea pots; Kate was particularly taken with the individual bottle of milk which accompanied it, while we both admired the lovely plates (note my failure to take any decent pictures of them!).

We also tried out the cake selection. Between us, Kate and I managed to sample the caramel shortbread, chocolate cookies and the chocolate-chip shortbread, while the chocolate cake and cheesecake looked particularly tempting. Everything was delicious: the cookie was particularly chocolaty, while the shortbread was rich and buttery.

3 CASTLE STREET • CARDIFF • CF10 1BS +44 (0) 7827 738371
Monday 08:00 – 18:00 Roaster James Gourmet (espresso + bulk-brew)
Tuesday 08:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Bar, Sofas, Comfy Chairs, Chairs (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 18:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 18:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 08:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free
Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 Power Limited
Chain No Visits 16th May 2014

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

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