Box Office Coffee

The sign from the window of Box Office Coffee, Bridport.: the words "Box Office Coffee" in capitals, one word per line. The word "coffee" is in pink.Box Office Coffee, which opened in November 2014, is the second speciality coffee shop in Bridport, one of a number of Dorset towns which are making themselves destinations for coffee lovers. Box Office is the little sister of the famous Number 35 Coffee House & Kitchen, located in nearby Dorchester. Set inside the box office of The Lyric Theatre (have you worked out where the name comes from yet?), Box Office is considerably small than Number 35, but, in coffee at least, every bit its equal, offering the same jaw-dropping array of ever-rotating beans. Indeed, the only constant (other than excellent quality) is the decaf, which comes from London’s Workshop.

Just as at Number 35, there’s a choice of four beans, two on espresso and two on filter (although space limitations means that only the Aeropress is used for filter coffee). The beans are chalked up on boards behind the counter, along with notes giving origin, process, altitude and tasting notes (including with and without milk for the espressos). As at Number 35, the bean’s the king, with no mention of the roaster.

If coffee’s not your thing, there’s loose-leaf tea, hot chocolate and a choice of two different cakes.

April 2016: Extremely sad news. Box Office had to close in March due to circumstance beyond Number 35’s control. A great loss for Bridport, although fortunately Soulshine Cafe remains.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Box Office Coffee, on Bridport's Barrack Street, seen here approaching from the north...
  • ... and seen here approaching from the south (the more likely direction).
  • And finally, for good measure, seen from directly across the street.
  • The A-board sums it up very directly.
  • A handy sign on the door offers encouragement.
  • And in close up, in case you missed it the first time.
  • Box Office, as the name suggests, is in the Box Office of a theatre (the Lyric). You gain access from the theatre lobby. The theatre itself is straight ahead, Box Office to the left.
  • Just before the doors to the theatre, there's the actual box office window...
  • ... through which you can see Box Office itself.
  • However, you actually get in through the 1st door on the left. The EK43's a dead giveaway...
  • The counter is on the far side, seen here from just inside the door.
  • Most of the seating, meanwhile, is to the right.
  • Not that there's very much of it. There's this table by the counter...
  • ... and these two, against the wall between the door and box office window.
  • These two cinema seats are to the left as you come in. There's one more  table and that's it.
  • The counter itself is faced with these old coffee sacks...
  • ... and there's this lovely rug on the floor in front of it. The floor itself is pretty amazing.
  • Great use for an old ice cream. I wonder why it hasn't melted though?
  • Nice clock.
  • You know how no-one ever talks about the elephant in the room...
  • Old vinyl records hang from the ceiling in front of the wall, itself adorned with mirrors.
  • Talking of mirrors... Toby, hard at work at the espresso machine.
  • The counter, seen from my table.
  • Another view of the counter: very modern coffee kit in a very old building (1746).
  • Toby at the business end of Box Office. From right to left: hot water, EK-43, Sanremo.
  • There are shelves of coffee behind the counter...
  • Meanwhile, over the sink in the corner, there are teapots and tea cups.
  • The two espresso beans have tasting notes for both with & without milk.
  • Meanwhile, the filter coffes have ideal drinking temperatures along with their tasting notes!
  • It's not all coffee (& tea). There's also a limited selection of (two) cakes!
  • However, it's mostly about the coffee. Time to put the bright yellow Sanremo to work!
  • The (strikingly) white EK-43 grinds everything, espresso and filter...
  • With pre-weighed doses (complete with recipies) on the shelf behind.
  • The EK-43 in action.
  • Even though the dose is pre-weighed, Toby still checks the weight out...
  • There, that's perfect (I've got a set of those scales at home, you know!).
  • Portafilter on, cup and scales in place... Let's go!
  • The extraction starts...
  • ... and gathers pace.
  • Almost...
  • ... and the streams coalesce into one.
  • Almost done... Toby gets ready to turn the pump off.
  • The resulting espresso. However, Toby wasn't 100% happy with it, so he made another.
  • Here we go.
  • Have I mentioned I like watching espresso extract? Particularly with bottomless portafilters.
  • Mix and match cup and saucer.
  • The espresso, however, is much more to Toby's liking. I thought they both tasted fine!
  • We finished with an aeropress...
  • ... which is served with a glass of water and an infrared thermometer!
  • This is so you know when the coffee's at the right temperature. 56C? Still a bit too hot!
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The Lyric Theatre’s also a relative newcomer to Bridport. The building was constructed in 1746 as an independent chapel. Since then it’s had various uses, including as a Liberal Hall (an inscription above the door dates this to 1886) and, more recently, the Electric Palace Cinema. The Lyric took over the building in 2010, saving it from redevelopment into flats, offering it as a performance space for various groups.

Mostly in use during the evenings, the building stood empty during the day until, in 2014, Toby, from in Dorchester’s Number 35 Coffee House & Kitchen, was invited to open a coffee shop in the theatre’s box office (which is still used as a box office, and bar, during evening performances).

It’s an ideal setting for a small, friendly, welcoming coffee shop. Entering through the theatre lobby, Box Office is through a striking blue door (in sharp contrast to the deep red elsewhere) to your left. Its layout’s very simple, the counter dominating the room, running the full length of the wall opposite the door. It’s a simple, uncluttered affair; espresso machine, grinder, hot-water boiler and till all well-spaced along the counter-top.

Although small, it feels spacious, helped by high ceilings and a furniture arrangement which, resisting the temptation to cram too much in, has confined the seating to the edges, leaving a large, open space between door and counter. There are three, small, square tables to your right, one against the right-hand wall and two against the wall to the right of the door. The only other seating is two cinema seats to your left and one more table, this time round.

All of this means that the star and main focus is the coffee. Although smaller than Number 35, there’s no compromise in range/quality of coffee on offer, which is rotated on a regular basis (see the Number 35 Coffee Spot for more details). Box Office’s very similar in size to the front of Number 35, with the same, cosy, sitting room atmosphere. Just as at Number 35, it’s hard not to engage with your barista. Who you get very much depends on which day you visit: all the baristas work in Number 35, taking it in turns to come down to Bridport.

Having pre-arranged my visit, I got Toby, owner/head-barista of Number 35, who started me off with a Brazilian natural from Bristol’s Clifton Coffee Roasters on espresso, a lovely, bright coffee. He followed this with an Aeropress of a washed Kenyan from Berlin’s Five Elephant Coffee.

I’d already been introduced to the ideal of letting your coffee cool to the optimal temperature before serving at Amid Giants & Idols, where a timer ensures your coffee’s at the right temperature before you pour it out. However, Toby’s gone one further. Not only has he written the optimal temperature on the chalk boards along with the tasting notes, but your coffee’s served with an infrared thermometer along with the more traditional glass of water! Once I’d gotten over the shock, I had to admit it was a pretty good idea.

Toby’s suggestion for the Kenyan was 45C, but being me, I tried it at a variety of temperatures from 55C to 30C, when it was still just as lovely, a fruity, complex brew that matured as it cooled.

December 2015: Box Office was a runner-up for the 2015 Coffee Spot Award for Smallest Coffee Spot.

9 BARRACK STREET • BRIDPORT • DORSET • DT6 3LX +44 (0) 1305 549269
Monday CLOSED Roaster Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 09:00 – 15:00 Seating Tables
Wednesday 09:00 – 15:00 Food Cake
Thursday 09:00 – 15:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 09:00 – 15:00 Cards Cash Only
Saturday 09:00 – 15:00 Wifi No
Sunday CLOSED Power No
Chain Local Visits 27th April 2015

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5 thoughts on “Box Office Coffee

  1. Pingback: Soulshine Café | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. Pingback: Number 35 Coffee House & Kitchen | Brian's Coffee Spot

  3. Happy to admit I know very little, but have been enjoying noticing how my coffee at home changes taste with temperature. Maybe I should dig my thermapen out tomorrow.
    Nice little update on Toby and Number 35 too -wonder if they bring the cakes down from Dorchester with the baristas? Guessing so: flapjacks and brownies are the good travellers and good keepers of the cake bunch.

  4. Pingback: 2015 Awards – Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot | Brian's Coffee Spot

  5. Pingback: 2015 Awards – Smallest Coffee Spot | Brian's Coffee Spot

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