Soulshine Café

The A-board outside Soulshine Cafe in Birdport promises coffee, juice, meals, snacks, lots of indoor seating and a lovely courtyard.Bridport is not necessarily where you would expect to find a great coffee shop. However, 15 miles west of Dorchester, Bridport boasts not one, but two excellent coffee shops: Box Office Coffee [now sadly closed] and the subject of today’s Coffee Spot, Soulshine Café, both of which opened in 2014.

Located on South Street (one of Bridport’s two main streets), at first there doesn’t seem much to Soulshine. The wide, bright shop front has three-person window-bars either side of the door and a handsome counter running in front of the back wall, but that’s about it.

If that’s all there was to it, Soulshine would still be a pretty good spot, but actually this is just a prelude of what’s to come. Head down a long, produce-lined corridor to the left of the counter and you’ll find yourself in Soulshine proper, a large, light-filled space that stretches out ahead of you. Even better, right at the back, the patio-doors look out onto a wonderful, secluded, sheltered courtyard.

Soulshine is built around three pillars of high-quality, locally-sourced organic food, juice and coffee. The latter comes from Bristol’s Extract (house-blend and decaf), with regularly-rotating guest roasters on the second espresso. There’s also an Aeropress option.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

Soulshine’s deceptive, looking as if it occupies a simple shop front, generous windows flanking a recessed door. Facing east, these catch the morning sun, making an excellent spot to watch the world go by. If you really like the sun, you can also sit outside, where a pair of tables grace the pavement.

The counter, which is maybe two strides away from the door, runs almost the full width of the back wall, serving as both deli counter and juice bar. During busy months, there’s an espresso machine here, serving takeaway coffee, but the rest of the time, you’ll need to go past the left-hand end of the counter (don’t worry, there are plenty of signs) and down a long corridor to get your fix.

Unless you’re desperate for coffee, it’s worth lingering along the corridor. Not content with being a coffee shop, juice bar and day-time dining establishment, Soulshine’s also a delicatessen and greengrocer, selling fresh, locally-sourced, organic produce. Halfway down you also come across Soulshine’s well-appointed kitchen, where all the food is produced, including all the cakes. In this respect, it reminds me of Dorchester’s Number 35 Coffee House & Kitchen, although the two are very different places (particularly since Number 35 has the coffee machine at the front).

Tearing yourself away, keep going to the back room. A mirror image of the front, only 10 times deeper, this starts with the counter, just as handsome as its counterpart at the front. Immediately to your right is the cake, which you have to file past in order to get to the till, next to the very pretty Sanremo espresso machine.

Turn around so that the counter’s behind you, and Soulshine stretches out ahead of you. It’s a low-ceilinged room, but any fears that it might be a dull spot are instantly dispelled. The far end of the room is entirely glass, a large window graces the left-hand side and the ceiling’s regularly-punctured with skylights. The seating’s a mix of traditional round and square tables, plus long, communal tables with benches along the edges. At the back, a door opens on the right, leading into Soulshine’s third space, a generous, secluded, sheltered courtyard. Seating is provided by three picnic tables of varying sizes.

I called in twice, first to start the day with a flat white, made with the house-blend from Bristol’s Extract Coffee Roasters. Slightly darker than I’m used to (I fear I’m becoming corrupted by my London ways), it was very smooth, the perfect first coffee of the day.

I called back at lunchtime when I met with Chris (who, along with his wife, Lisa, owns Soulshine). We chatted over a mushroom ragu, a hearty serving of mushrooms in a rich sauce, topped with a poached egg. Chris told me that Phil, the head barista, was still developing Soulshine’s coffee offering. As well as occasionally using roasters from further afield, the guest espresso showcases southwest roasters such as Origin, Amid Giants & Idols and Clifton Coffee Roasters, whose EQ seasonal blend (version 6) I tried as an espresso. It was a lovely cup, sweet and fruity, but not too sharp.

Recently Phil’s added an Aeropress option and is slowly winning the locals over to filter coffee. Sales of Americanos have steadily decreased, while sales of flat whites have increased, Bridport slowly warming to the idea of speciality coffee.

Just as I was about to leave, Dom the head chef, decided to get in on the act, arriving with a chewy, gooey and very chocolaty brownie fresh from the oven. It would have been rude to say no.

December 2015: Soulshine Café was a runner-up for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.

76 SOUTH STREET • BRIDPORT • DORSET • DT6 3NN +44 (0) 1308 422821
Monday 09:00 – 16:00 Roaster Extract + Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 09:00 – 16:00 Seating Tables, Armchairs, Window Bar, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 09:00 – 16:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 09:00 – 16:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 09:00 – 17:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free
Sunday 10:00 – 14:00 Power Limited
Chain No Visits 27th April 2015

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9 thoughts on “Soulshine Café

  1. I can’t decide whether I’d most want to visit, live or work there! Went mad long before you did! So much eclectic charm.

  2. I love the fact that you are often prefacing your blog with the comment that ‘…… Is not the place where you would expect to find speciality coffee….’ the more often it is said, the more this is actually happening. Our edge coffee shop is in a semi-rural spot on a Sussex country road is getting busier daily! The point I’m making s simply this… The coffee revolution is so much part of our lives that we now find great coffee is the most unusual places!

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