I’ve saved potentially the best until last. To celebrate my return to Providence today, I present the last of the three Coffee Spots which I visited when I was last here in June 2015 (the other two being Coffee Exchange and Dave’s Coffee). Once again, I must thank my friend Allison for inviting me down and for being my guide for the day.
The Shop, as well as being a favourite of mine, is also very well-regarded. Throughout this trip, whenever I mentioned going to Providence and asked for recommendations, The Shop was on everyone’s lips.
It has a simple layout, serving a simple menu, the ubiquitous Hair Bender blend (plus decaf) on espresso, along with a single-origin and house-blend on the obligatory bulk-brewer, all from Stumptown. These are backed up with a small, but very impressive range of bread, cakes and pastries (sweet and savoury) from local bakeries.
What makes The Shop stand out from the crowd is the staff and the atmosphere they create. Friendly, welcoming, caring, passionate about the coffee, about the shop itself and about the community it serves, The Shop is a gem. And your coffee’s brought to you, which is how it should be.
February 2016: I don’t get the chance to do this very often, so I took it and visited The Shop on the day which I published its Coffee Spot. So, here I am, sitting in the window, melting in the early morning winter sun :-). For the record, I had some very crunchy and tasty toast for breakfast, plus an excellent cappuccino.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
On Wickenden Street, a few blocks east of Coffee Exchange, The Shop’s wood-clad shop-front has a blue door in the centre, flanked by a pair of regular windows, each with a wooden bench beneath it. This pleasing, but fairly ordinary frontage hides both an interesting interior and The Shop’s more interesting side (literally, in this case, the building’s east side being painted with a curious coffee-related mural).
Essentially a rectangle, The Shop narrows a little on the left at the back (opposite the counter). To your left, as you enter, is a three-person window-bar with stools, and, projecting from the left-hand wall, there’s an eight-person communal table, a bench on the window-side and four chairs opposite. On your right, a low bar separates you from a neat seating area tucked between window and counter. A bench runs around three sides: the bar, front window and right-hand wall, which also has a window, making this a very bright and cosy spot. There are two, small round tables here too.
The counter’s next, dominating the right-hand side at the back. Eschewing a normal rectangular plan, it has a series of angular projections and cut-off corners. First there’s cake, facing the front in its display case. Then, around the corner, the till, coffee menu on the wall behind, water station to the left. Next, on an angular projection, is the two-group La Marzocco espresso machine, its twin grinders (Hair Bender and decaf) slightly behind and to the left. Finally, another projection at the far end effectively signals the counter’s end, where you’ll find cutlery and lids for your (takeaway) coffee cups.
The remaining seating is a wonderfully eclectic mix if ever there was one. Between counter and left-hand wall is a stand-alone, stand-up bar, with hooks underneath for (small) bags and coats. The left-hand wall has an interesting, wood-clad niche just before the bar. It looks wonderful, with its own angle-poise lamp. Beyond the bar, right at the back on the left-hand side, are two fold-up chairs, a newspaper rack on the wall behind them.
The Shop’s interior is wonderfully bright. The furniture and counter are all wood, with wooden floorboards, the exception being a small area around the counter, which has been beautifully tiled. The walls are painted dark grey for the first metre, then cream for the rest, where they merge into the cream ceiling. The only exception is at the back, where the wall’s top half is wallpapered.
I should also mention the excellent soundtrack, which was tailor-made for me, featuring classic 70s and 80s hits, including plenty of The Ramones, Blondie and The Clash. I was particularly impressed that The Clash’s “Bored of the USA” got airtime…
Having had a lot of Stumptown’s Hair Bender in the past, I ventured slightly outside my comfort zone and had an Ethiopian Duromina single-origin from the batch-brewer. However, in contrast to my prejudices, it was excellent, fruity without being sharp, and maturing nicely as it cooled.
I paired this with a rhubarb crumble mini pie, which was served warm and came from local bakery, Humble Pie (the bread is from Foremost Bakery and the pastries from Illuminated Oven, both local producers). My pie had a great, flaky pastry base, and a wonderfully tasty rhubarb filling: tart in both senses of the word.
|460 WICKENDEN STREET • PROVIDENCE • RI 02903 • USA|
|Monday||CLOSED||Roaster||Stumptown (espresso + bulk brew)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Bars, Benches, Benches & Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 17:00||Food||Breakfast, Cake|
|Thursday||07:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 17:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||07:30 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||07:30 – 17:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||2nd June 2015, 18th February 2016|
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