It seems unfair to call The Perky Peacock a chain, but by strict Coffee Spot definitions, two counts as a chain, so a (local) chain it is, both branches being found in the fine city of York. The first Perky Peacock is located in a medieval tower by Lendal Bridge, while the second, which opened in October 2012, is just outside the city walls on Gillygate. In typical Coffee Spot tradition, I visited the two Perky Peacocks in reverse order of opening, calling first on the second Perky Peacock one sunny Saturday afternoon in June.
Although bearing the same name, the two Perky Peacocks (named after owner Nicola Peacock) are very much their own places. Gillygate focuses more on food, with an impressive brunch offering, which is served until 3 o’clock each afternoon. Naturally, I arrived at 3.15. Silly me. Although the coffee offering is more extensive at the original Perky Peacock (Lendal), Gillygate’s none too shabby on that front, with Essex’s Modern Standard providing the beans, which change on an as-and-when basis and frequently differ from those on offer at Lendal.
This being Yorkshire, there’s Yorkshire Tea, plus loose-leaf tea from Joe’s Tea, along with sandwiches, melts and cake.
September 2016: The Perky Peacock on Gillygate is no more, but never fear, there’s still good coffee to be found at No. 74, the operation being taken over by Rae & Webb, serving Origin coffee. Expect an update as soon as I get back to York.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
The second Perky Peacock occupies a small space on York’s Gillygate. A generous window runs the width of the store, the door on the right-hand side. Stepping inside, there’s a sofa with coffee table in the window to your left, a square table beyond that, followed by a high table for six running half the width of the store. This effectively delineates the seating from the counter. Ahead of you (and opposite the high table) is another square table against the right-hand wall, completing the seating in the front of the store. In all you might get 14 people in. You can also sit outside on a bench on the busy Gillygate.
The counter’s at the back on the left, slightly recessed, with the kitchen behind it. On the right, a corridor leads through an archway to what’s termed “the study”, itself no more than a corridor with a bar on the right (complete with four bar stools) and some interesting artwork on the opposite wall. There’s another bar in the corridor leading to the study, where you (and perhaps one other) can perch and watch the barista at work on the three group Sanremo.
The interior’s bright and spacious, the temptation to cram too much in having been resisted. Bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling supplement the light flooding in through the window. The tiled floor, plain walls (in contrasting black or light grey) and light grey ceiling add to a clean, uncluttered look. The black sections of wall (to the right and at back) are used as chalk-board menus, while artwork from Newcastle artist Alex Sickling hangs on the (grey) wall to the left.
Gillygate offers the usual espresso-based standards and an Aeropress option. There’s only one bean (plus decaf) on offer, which, when I visited, was from Cornwall’s Origin. The barista, Sarah, described the beans changing as-and-when; if Origin sent something through that proved popular, it stayed on for a while, otherwise it could change quite quickly. When I was there, it was the Hunda Oli Ethiopia. Sarah described it as very versatile, sufficiently so that it’s also used as Gillygate’s Aeropress offering. Since then, The Perky Peacock has switched to using Essex’s Modern Standard as its main roaster, although little else had changed.
I’d come for food, but arrived just after brunch had stopped being served. Fortunately sandwiches and melts are served all day, so I ordered the cheddar, caramelised onion and tomato melt which arrived with a plate of crisps and an espresso cup of salad. I also had a piccolo, which, if I’m being picky, was rather large (flat-white sized) for a piccolo, but I guess that serves me right for asking for something that’s not on the menu. That said, it was very good, the coffee, Origin’s Hunda Oli Ethiopia, blending well with the milk without hitting any particular high notes.
It arrived in a glass, denying me a closer look at the Perky Peacock’s fancy cups. I was so upset by this that I ordered a single espresso, which duly arrived in a lovely cup. The coffee works just as well on its own as in milk, coming out quite smooth, with a touch of sweetness. As in milk, there were no great highlights, nor was it too bright or acidic.
|74 GILLYGATE • YORK • YO31 7EQ|
|http://perkypeacockcoffee.co.uk||+44 (0) 1904 623658|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Modern Standard (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Sofa, Tables, Bar, Bench (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Brunch, Sandwiches, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 17:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 16:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Chain||No||Visits||21st June 2014|
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Hi Brian, great review! Are you still here in York? Fancy a coffee?! Tom
Thanks. You just missed me though. On the train to Harrogate as I type…
Have you tried Spring Espresso in Fossgate? My favorite artisan coffee shop in York: great coffee with a choice of beans for pour-overs, a nice selection of cakes/toast/sandwiches, and friendly staff!
Yes, I went there on Sunday 🙂 Will go up on the Coffee Spot at some point over the next month or two.
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Now under the name Rae & Web
Thanks. A visit/update is on my to-do list for the next time I’m in York 🙂