Coffee Culture, York

A beautiful piccolo in a glass at Coffee Culture, York.Coffee Culture in York is an independent coffee shop, not to be confused with any other coffee shops called Coffee Culture anywhere else in the UK (or the world for that matter). In city full of great coffee shops (Spring Espresso; Perky Peacock, Gillygate; Harlequin) in some fantastic settings (The Attic; Perky Peacock, Lendal) you need to be something special in order to stand out. Fortunately, Coffee Culture occupies perhaps the most unique space I’ve seen for a coffee shop. Split over three floors of (what feels like) a very old building on York’s Goodramgate, connected by a narrow, windy and rather wonky set of staircases, Coffee Culture is a delight. Unless you sit downstairs, be prepared for lots of steep stairs to climb!

Coffee Culture gets its coffee from local roaster, York Coffee Emporium with a house-blend and two guests. During my visit they were a Peru Tinku (Fairtrade and Organic) & Australian Skybury Limited Edition. All three are available as espresso drinks or as a cafetiere for one or two. There is a limited range of cake, but an impressive food menu for somewhere so small, all of which is cooked in the tiny kitchen behind the counter.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Coffee Culture, on York's Goodramgate.
  • The downstairs seating in Coffee Culture, as seen from the back of the room.
  • The rest of the space is taken up with the counter....
  • ... and the kitchen behind it. Hmmm, what's that sign on the counter?
  • Table service! Rare words to warm anyone's heart! Take a seat, it says...
  • ... but where? This looks like it could get quite busy with everyone coming in and out...
  • Up here, perhaps?
  • The view, via the mirror, from halfway up the stairs, looking at the first floor.
  • Now, this is more like it! Lots of interesting seating options up here!
  • There are these two tables, with the window seat.
  • Nice view, by the way.
  • One of the two tables in detail.
  • The view back across the first floor from the window seat.
  • Other options include this table against the wall...
  • ... and this big, round table at the back by the stairs.
  • The view of the first floor from the round table at the back.
  • Alternatively, if you can cope with another flight of stairs...
  • The view from the top of the stairs: there's another room up here!
  • Nice sofa!
  • A view of the top-floor room from just inside the doorway.
  • If the sofa isn't to your liking, try this cosy table in the corner by the window...
  • ... where there's another nice view to be had.
  • Looking back across the room from the window.
  • I was particularly fond of the fireplace...
  • ... while this two-person table by the door is another seating good opton.
  • Alternatively, here's a third view of the sofa. You could be forgiven for thinking I liked it...
  • Excellent chandelier.
  • Time to go back downstairs. Woah! Those stairs look STEEP from up here!
  • So, to business. What have we got? Well, there's tea...
  • ... and more tea...
  • Finally, this is more like it!
  • The hot drinks menu is more legiible in real life!
  • The specials menu looks interesting.
  • Australian coffee, anyone?
  • Good coffee requires the company of good cake though...
  • Very sensible!
  • My espresso and a chocolate tiffin (no longer hiding in the fridge).
  • I followed this with a piccolo and a lemon-curd scone.
  • My piccolo in all its glory.
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Coffee Culture occupies a long, thin slice of a very old building in the heart of the medieval city. If you like your floors flat and your walls perpendicular, Coffee Culture’s not for you. However, if you like intimate spaces with bags of character, then this is the place to be.

Downstairs is the counter, a simple, wooden square directly opposite the door. To your left, running along the window and continuing along the wall, is an L-shaped bar with six stools. Behind the counter, on the right, is the kitchen, while on the left, narrow, steep stairs lead up to the other two floors. These hold bulk of the seating, although neither is exactly what you’d call spacious.

The first floor, where I sat, has a window bench with two small, round tables, each with a chair, a slightly larger, round three-person table at the top of the stairs, and, between the two, a smaller, two-person square table. You might squeeze 11 people in all told.

The top floor is similarly limited, with a long of sofa at the top of the stairs. Immediately to your right is a two-person round table and, in the far corner, a larger table for four. Again, you might get 11 people in. Bare wooden floorboards and white-washed walls are decorated with an interesting mix of artwork and old coffee signs. Piped music on all floors adds to the hum of conversation.

I started with the Skybury as a very short, single espresso, which was sweet, with a touch of bitterness and a lovely, rich mouth-feel, just how I like it. I paired this with a chocolate tiffin. This was perfectly acceptable, but reminded me why I don’t often have chocolate tiffin. On the plus side, it was very chocolaty. However, I was left wishing I’d had a scone, so I did.

This arrived warm and I had half with just butter on. It was lovely, a very sweet lemon curd scone, with a great structure. Since I had a very generous pot of jam (in a lovely little pot) I had the remainder with jam (I’m the sort who likes a little bit of scone with his jam) and it was equally lovely, the thick base of the scone providing the perfect platform for the jam.

After a discussion with the barista about which bean went best with milk, I pair my scone with the house-blend (her recommendation) as a piccolo. The house-blend was very old-school, a dark roast with a touch of bitterness which cut through the milk and gave a contrasting edge to its sweetness. The milk was very well steamed, resulting in a very robust coffee, which was perhaps a little too old-school for my palette.

Coffee Culture closed at four that day, but the staff happily cooked all-day breakfasts for a couple who came in at 3.45 and people were still finishing their coffee at 4.30, which is the sort of service I appreciate. Considering the breakfasts, it looks to be a good breakfast spot, but my plans were constrained by meeting Mr Fancy a Cuppa at Spring Espresso that morning. Had I been really keen, I’d have risen early, breakfasted at Coffee Culture, then met Simon. However, “morning” and “keen” don’t go together in the Coffee Spot world…

41 GOODRAMGATE • YORK • YO1 7LS +44 (0) 1904 630325
Monday 09:00 – 17:00 Roaster York Coffee Emporium (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 09:00 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Benches, Sofas
Wednesday 09:00 – 17:00 Food Breakfast (all day), Lunch, Sandwiches, Cake
Thursday 09:00 – 17:00 Service Table
Friday 09:00 – 17:00 Cards Cash Only
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi No
Sunday 10:30 – 16:30 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 22nd June 2014

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3 thoughts on “Coffee Culture, York

  1. Nice review, it’s my favourite place for coffee in York, maybe because it’s closest 🙂 Just to let you know that you can get 3rd on EE and 3 but you need to sit next to the windows facing onto the street.

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