Society Café, The Corridor

The mural on the wall of the basement in Society Cafe, The Corridor, in Bath, showing flowers growing in a coffee cup, with a small animal peaking its head out.On Bath’s High Street, close to the Cathedral/ Baths, opposite the Guildhall and with High Street chains Caffé Nero to one side, Starbucks to the other, it’s an unlikely, but welcome, location for an independent speciality coffee shop. This prime spot, at the eastern end of The Corridor, Bath’s Georgian shopping arcade, is home to the second of Bath’s two Society Cafés. A wonderful location, it’s probably the loveliest setting of all the Coffee Spots that I’ve visited in Bath.

I visited twice, first in 2014, and again five years later in 2019. Originally, Society used locals, Round Hill Roastery, as the house coffee, with a pair of single-origins, one on espresso, the other on filter, with a guest roaster also supplying a pair of single-origins for espresso/filter. However, in 2017, Society switched to Origin, again with a guest option (often Round Hill), with one filter made using theAeropress, the other on batch brew (replacing the original second option, the Clever Dripper).

If you don’t fancy coffee, there’s always a selection of loose-leaf tea and hot chocolate from old friends Kokoa Collection, as well as Willie’s Cacao. Add to that sandwiches and a great selection of cakes and you’re spoilt for choice!

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The Corridor, Bath, home to the second Society Cafe, seen here in 2014.
  • A more detailed view, again from 2014, where you'll find Society Cafe on the right.
  • There's a bench out front for drier days...
  • ... while the door is slightly inset at an angle to the left.
  • Now, what's that A-board say?
  • Before we go inside, The Corridor itself is worth a look!
  • And, while we're here, we may as well take a look in the window.
  • Looks very cosy in there.
  • Turning to go inside, we catch a glimpse of the Guildhall across the street. Nice view.
  • However, it's time to go in.
  • A panorama from just inside the door. Like all the photos so far, this is from 2014.
  • The main seating is to the left of the counter...
  • ... while the rest is by the window, as seen in this panorama looking the other way.
  • The window seating in more detail.
  • Quite a bit has changed upstairs since my first visit in 2014. These retail shelves were...
  • ... replaced by this extra seating, which in turn has been replaced by more bar-seating.
  • Meanwhile, the bicycle hanging over the stairs has been replaced by this picture.
  • By 2019, the decor upstairs was a lot less sparse. There's this bookcase, for example...
  • ... but I didn't get many more photos. More importantly, there are changes downstairs.
  • Back in 2014, this was staff only. Now it's used for extra seating. Let's go down, shall we?
  • Turning left at the bottom of the stairs, you're greeted by a pair of tables...
  • ... which run along the back wall, joined by three more down the left-hand side.
  • A different view of the two tables at the back...
  • ... and a more general view of the L-shaped bench along the left-hand and back walls.
  • There's more, though. This two-person bar is against the side of the stairs, beyond which...
  • ... at the front, tucked under the stairs, are three armchairs and their coffee tables.
  • I like the artwork down here, where pictures line the walls...
  • ... although this mural was my favourite.
  • I was also a fan of the two large mirrors along the left-hand wall.
  • Time to go back upstairs, where you order at the counter.
  • Obligatory light fitting shot, from 2014.
  • I particularly liked these ones in the windows...
  • ... with their neat reflections, again from 2014.
  • The view out of the window into the Corridor.
  • The Society Cafe has a beautifully-tiled floor, by the way.
  • The counter, seen here in 2014, is at the back.
  • The menus hang on the wall behind the counter. This is what they looked like in 2014...
  • ... and this is what they looked like on my return five years later in 2019.
  • The espresso machine, a three-group La Marzocco Linea, is off to the right...
  • ... along with this twin grinder set-up.
  • The settings are chalked up next to the grinders, although when I returned in 2019...
  • ... the Linea was blue and the grinders had been upgraded, but it's basically the same.
  • For filter coffee and decaf, the EK43, seen here in 2014, is pressed into use.
  • This also has its settings chalked up for each brew method and for the decaf.
  • Moving with the times, Society now sells these Huksee reusable cups.
  • There's also a decent selection of cakes, again from 2014...
  • .. when there were also sandwiches if you wanted something savoury.
  • However, in 2014, I was particularly taken by the Friands...
  • ... so I had one, a blueberry Friand to be precise!
  • I paired this with an Aeropress, served in a jug, with a cup on the side.
  • My coffee, an Ethiopian Kebado single-origin from Round Hill Roastery, in close up.
  • On my return in 2019, there was more cake: a banana and chocolate loaf.
  • Once again, I had an Aeropress of this Ethiopian single-origin from Round Hill...
  • ... served in a metal jug with a lovely, handleless cup on the side.
  • I was with Amanda, who had a flat white with some amazing latte art.
  • Here's a second look, if you can bear it.
  • The pattern, impressively, lasted to the bottom of the cup, which is where I'll leave you.
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Compared to the original Society Café on Kingsmead Square, The Corridor is fairly small, just a single room with a similarly-sized basement. Upstairs, there’s a pair of window-bars, a third interior bar by the stairs, plus a solitary bench outside on the High Street. Downstairs has five two-person tables, three armchairs and a two-person bar.

What Society Café lacks in space, it makes up for in beauty. Much like Manchester’s Pot Kettle Black in the Barton Arcade, Society Café takes its lead from The Corridor itself. Regular readers will know of my love for Victorian shopping arcades. Well, The Corridor goes one better: built in 1825, this Georgian structure was one of the first covered shopping arcades outside London.

Society Café occupies a prime spot at the Corridor’s eastern end. Viewed from across the High Street, it’s on the right-hand side, with windows on two sides and a recessed door in the corner. The shorter side faces the High Street, its four-person window-bar ideal for people watching and admiring the architecture. The longer side, facing into the Corridor itself, seats six. Opposite this is another bar, this time facing the enclosed staircase to the basement.

Upstairs, everything is arranged around the edges, leaving the centre a glorious open space, allowing you to admire the stone-flagged floor. This, coupled with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows, provide a wonderful sense of space for somewhere so small. There’s also plenty of light, with lights in both windows and above the counter at the back to supplement the daylight. There are stone walls at front, which give way to white-washed brick and a plain white-washed wall at the back, all topped by a white-washed ceiling, the light colours all enhancing the brightness of the place, although these days, the clean lines are softened by various pictures on the walls.

The counter, where you study the menus, eye up the cake and order, is at the back. Society Café makes clever use of the space, with the corners taken up by the coffee-making equipment. To the left, in full view of anyone passing along the Corridor, is some cold-brew apparatus and, clustered around an EK43, the brew bar, with built-in hot water tap. On the other side, in the awkward space above the stairs, is the La Marzocco espresso machine and two grinders, one for the house espresso, the other for the guest.

Downstairs, the basement is even cosier. The enclosed staircase starts at the front of Society, running along the right-hand wall, depositing you at the back of the small basement, which feels slightly shorter than the corresponding space upstairs. It’s a wonderful, cosy spot, with an L-shaped, padded bench running along the back and left-hand walls, complete with five two-person tables (two at the back, three down the left-hand side). Opposite this is a two-person bar against the wall of the stairs, while tucked away under the stairs at the front are three comfortable armchairs, each with a small, half-circle coffee table.

The décor downstairs matches that upstairs, with multiple pictures on the walls, including a wonderful mural on the wall above the two-person bar. There’s a set of bookcases in the corner under the stairs and, in another nice touch, two long mirrors run along the left-hand wall above the tables, which help give the basement an exaggerated sense of space, just like upstairs.

On both my visits, I had an Aeropress, each time using Round Hill’s coffee, while on my return, I was joined by Amanda, who had a flat white using the house espresso from Origin. You can find details of my first Aeropress in the original write-up, while the Coffee Spot Update lets you know what we made of our coffee on my return.

December 2015: Society Café won the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award for 2015.

October 2017: You can also see what I made of Society Café’s most recent branch which opened in the summer of 2017 in Bristol.

December 2019:  this is an updated version of the original post which was published in March 2015. You can see what has changed in my Coffee Spot Update.

December 2019: Society Café, The Corridor has won the 2019 Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award.

THE CORRIDOR • 19 HIGH STREET • BATH • BA1 5AJ +44 (0) 1225 442 433
Monday 07:30 – 18:30 Roaster Origin + Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 18:30 Seating Window Bars, Bench (outside)
Wednesday 07:30 – 18:30 Food Sandwiches, Cakes
Thursday 07:30 – 18:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 18:30 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 07:30 – 18:30 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 18:00 Power No
Chain Regional Visits Original: 13th October 2014
Update: 25th November 2019

You can see what fellow coffee bloggers, Bean There At, made of Society Cafe on their visit in March 2017.

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