Baila Coffee & Vinyl is on Swindon’s southern side, “up the hill” as the locals put it, in the part of old Swindon that actually looks and feels like a pleasant small town, rather than the post-war concrete shopping area that is the modern centre. Near the top of Victoria Road, Baila’s a coffee shop that buys/sells vinyl records rather than a record shop which serves coffee (The Keen Bean Coffee Club, for example).
As befits somewhere that’s all about vinyl (black), coffee (black too) and coffee with milk (white), the décor is predominantly black and white, with added touches of black and occasional splashes of white for variety. The floor is at least (dark) wood, as are the tables and chairs.
The coffee is from nearby Extract Coffee Roasters, with Extract’s standard espresso blend in the main hoper, plus decaf. Single origins make an appearance as filter coffee, Baila unusually utilising the Clever Dripper. There are also smoothies and loose-leaf tea.
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, Baila reopens from seven in the evening until eleven as a bar, serving craft beers, gin, wine and spirits. The bar also makes an appearance from four until ten on Sunday afternoon/evening.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Baila cuts an instantly-recognisable and rather austere figure, its black-and-white façade making no compromises in representing its twin passions, coffee and vinyl. The black and white theme continues inside, broken only by the red leather sofa in the window, just to the left of the door, and the bright-red Sanremo espresso machine facing you on the counter at the opposite end of the room. Except that all you can see is the Sanremo’s back, a single, burnished sheet of metal, forming an effective mirror. It is, however, red. I promise.
The layout is simple: a long, low rectangle stretching back from a single window at the front. The door’s on the right, the aforementioned sofa in the window, facing into the store. It has a two old school desks serving as a coffee table and an L-shaped bench opposite. Beyond it, on the left-hand side, two old school desks sit next to a shelf of books and games, followed by a six-person communal table.
On the right is a notice board and small table with magazines just inside the door, then a long wooden bench with five two-person tables runs along the wall. This ends abruptly against the white-tiled wall of the counter which occupies the back right-hand third of Baila, the aforementioned Sanremo facing the door from the end of the L-shaped counter. A turntable perches on the corner, slowly spinning away, followed by a small selection of cake, then the till.
Opposite the counter is the vinyl part of Baila, boxes of LPs that probably look very strange to anyone under the age of 30… Baila will happily buy your old vinyl, or you can buy anything that takes your fancy.
It’s very subdued inside, a few light bulbs supplementing the natural light from the relatively small window, which is very much in keeping with overall décor/atmosphere. However, if you’re looking for something more lively/brighter, head past the counter where you’ll find stairs up to Baby Baila, a children’s play area in a loft space, with some lovely seating for the (supervising) adults.
Back downstairs, I started with a flat white, using Extract’s house-blend. Lovely and smooth, coffee and milk were in perfect harmony, not too sweet, with the creamy and superbly-steamed milk holding the latte art to the bottom of the cup. It took me a good half hour to finish, and it was as good at the end as it was at the start. The unhomogenized milk, by the way, is from a local herd at Berkeley Farm, Wroughton.
Baila, however, really scores when it comes to filter coffee. I had a choice of three single-origins, Guatemalan, Kenyan and my selection, a Tanzanian, all from Extract. Baila uses the Clever Dripper, a combination immersion brew/filter method. However, rather than make the coffee behind the counter, once the dripper’s been filled up, it’s brought to your table on a slate, with a glass and a timer. When the timer expires (after three minutes), you put the dripper on your glass and the coffee filters through. Talk about bringing the theatre of filter coffee to the customer!
The coffee itself was lovely, a really juicy, rich, well-balanced brew, that, like the flat white, was just as good during the last sip as it had been at the first.
December 2015: Baila was a runner-up for the 2015 Coffee Spot Award for Best Filter Coffee.
|85 VICTORIA ROAD • SWINDON • SN1 3RW|
|www.bailacoffeeandvinyl.com||+44 (0) 7894 859051|
|Monday||09:00 – 16:30||Roaster||Extract (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Sofa, Bench|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Cake, Panini|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 17:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||08:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 16:30||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||22nd September 2015|
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