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.
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|
|www.coffeehouseandkitchen.com||+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|
|Chain||Local||Visits||27th April 2015|
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