The Perky Peacock, Gillygate

The lovely espresso cups at The Perky Peacock on Gillygate.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, just outside the city walls on York's Gillygate.
  • The A-board promises much...
  • ... including the best brunch in town, served until three o'clock. I arrived at 3.15...
  • Stepping inside, the view from just inside the door.
  • This sofa is just to your left, occupying the spot in front of the window...
  • ... while next to it is this shelf full of beans and coffee kit. There's a bookshelf too.
  • On the left, there's a square table and the high table, complete with bar stools...
  • The square table in more detail.
  • And against the opposite wall, the other square table.
  • The counter is at the back on the left, with the kitchen behind.
  • To the right, there's a corridor leading back to 'the study' with a little bar on the left.
  • The study itself consists of a bar on the right and some art on the opposite wall.
  • The bar in more detail...
  • ... and the art in close-up.
  • Obligatory light-fitting.
  • The menu is on the right-hand wall...
  • Nice brunch options.
  • There's cake too.
  • However, I needed something more substantial, so I ordered a melt.
  • My lunch eyes up the espresso machine...
  • ... and here's why, my (rather large) piccolo. It was lovely.
  • My coffee eyes up the menu...
  • ... and here it is in more detail.
  • There's also loose-leaf tea.
  • You can take the beans home with you if you like.
  • This is what's on offer at the moment.
  • I put barista Sarah to work making me an espresso.
  • Here it comes!
  • Et voila!
  • Such a nice cup too. Worth a second look.
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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 +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)
Sunday CLOSED Power Limited
Chain No Visits 21st June 2014

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10 thoughts on “The Perky Peacock, Gillygate

  1. 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!

  2. Pingback: Spring Espresso | Brian's Coffee Spot

  3. Pingback: Perky Peacock, Lendal | Brian's Coffee Spot

  4. Pingback: 2014 Awards – Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot | Brian's Coffee Spot

  5. Pingback: Coffee Culture, York | Brian's Coffee Spot

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