The Little Man Coffee Company

The coffee bean choices chalked up on the board behind the espresso machine at The Little Man Coffee Company in Cardiff (two espresso, two filter).Down past Cardiff’s Catholic Cathedral, at the southern end of Charles Street, is The Little Man Coffee Company. From the name, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a tiny spot, but far from it. Spread over the ground floor and basement (yeah! basement!) of an old bank branch, it’s actually quite large, part of a sudden growth of Cardiff’s fledging speciality coffee scene, which, with one or two exceptions, is concentrated in the city centre. In fact, while only a five-minute walk from the likes of the venerable The Plan, Little Man Coffee represents an eastern outpost of this cluster.

Little Man Coffee joined the fray in October 2014 and from the outset had lofty ambitions, married to the sense of the achievable. A true multi-roaster from the start, Little Man usually offers two beans espresso, another two on filter, buying 10kg at a time from various roasters before then moving on. Although employing a wide variety of roasters, Little Man has a record of supporting local, Welsh roasters, such as the Welsh Coffee Company and Coaltown Coffee Roasters, as well as James Gourmet Coffee (technically in England). While I was there, both filters were from Cardiff-based roaster Lufkin Coffee.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The Little Man Coffee Company on the corner of Bridge St & David St (Bridge St view).
  • This is the David Street side, although the address is Bridge Street.
  • The door shows no favouritism, though, by being right on the corner.
  • A panoramic view from just inside the door, counter ahead, seating to the left.
  • The counter in more detail. There's a nice, clear path, straight from the door.
  • Looking across the seating from the counter towards Bridge Street.
  • This large, communal table kind of acts as a barrier...
  • ... beyond which the seating spreads out until the far wall.
  • A view back towards the counter from my seat in the corner.
  • Three comfy chairs hide by a pillar. There are two more to the left of the door.
  • There's also a little bar here. Not a great view though...
  • ... in contrast to the window-bar on the David Street side, to your right as you enter.
  • Tucked away to the right and behind the counter, these stairs lead intriguingly down.
  • What's that? A vault? Did I mention that this used to be a bank branch?
  • Sadly someone had booked it for a private meeting, so I couldn't go in.
  • However, there's also this lovely basement room to the right of the vault.
  • I was allowed in here (and back out again). Lots of art on the walls.
  • One of several round tables in the basement...
  • ... and a couple of small chairs!
  • Back upstairs, and the old night safe was being put to good use on a rainy day.
  • Tote bag, anyone?
  • I really liked this little shelving unit in the corner.
  • Despite having lots of windows upstairs, Little Man also has lots of lights.
  • I particularly liked these.
  • More lights hang above the counter...
  • ... behind which are shelves full of coffee goodies.
  • Lots and lots of coffee, of course. And tea.
  • Some of the roasters on offer that day.
  • More of the coffee. Little Man does a good job of supporting local, Welsh roasters.
  • The roll of paper at the top of the stairs holds interesting facts...
  • ... while the tables are liberally spread with menus.
  • There's also cake.
  • Mustn't forget the cake!
  • So, to coffee. The espresso machine and its grinders are on the end of the counter...
  • ... with the current choice of beans are chalked up on the wall behind.
  • Espresso machine and grinders...
  • ... with the particular bean in each grinder on display for all to see.
  • Over to the right, in the window, is a V60 filter rack...
  • ... and, next to it, one for the Aeropress.
  • While I was waiting for my coffee, a bottle of water and a glass arrived, unprompted.
  • I went for a Nicaraguan from a local roaster, Lufkin, through the V60, served in a carafe.
  • I really appreciate this sort of service. Good coffee too!
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On an unassuming corner at the junction of Bridge Street and David Street (the southern continuation of Charles Street) stands an old post office. In time, this became a bank branch before finding its true calling as The Little Man Coffee Company.

Almost square, Little Man has windows running along two sides. The door stands on the corner, at 45 degrees, doing its best not to take sides. The layout, however, shows no such neutrality, with Bridge Street forming the front of the premises. The counter is against the back wall, directly opposite the door, the seating to the left, the exception being a window-bar to the right, overlooking David Street. The layout’s very well done, leaving a clear path from door to counter, while to the right, stairs lead down behind the counter to the basement (which we’ll come back to).

The seating’s an interesting mix, a large, communal table to the left as you enter effectively delineating the seating area. There’s another bar to the left of the counter, but that only enjoys a view of the back wall. Against the left-hand wall, a row of pews has four four-person tables, leaving the remaining seating arrayed in the middle. To the door’s left, a pair of armchairs occupy a window spot, while there’s a two-person table in the window next to them. Three two-person tables occupy the middle of the room, while a pillar right in the centre hides a cosy cluster of three armchairs on one side and another two-person table on the other.

If you can’t find anywhere you like up here, try downstairs. The building’s heritage as a bank/post office is revealed at the bottom of the stairs by the massive vault door. Inside is a cosy room (don’t worry, the lock’s been taken out) which you can book for private meetings. To the right is a more open basement room with a scattering of round three- and four-person tables.

The walls are painted white, as is the ceiling, while the floors are wooden, giving both upstairs and downstairs a very clean, spacious look. The ceiling is quite low in the basement, but upstairs there are exposed beams and, coupled with the windows, it’s very bright and airy.

While I was there, Clifton Coffee Roasters’ standard espresso blend was in the first grinder, with a single-origin from Round Hill Roastery on second grinder. On filter were a pair of beans from local Cardiff roaster Lufkin Coffee, who had just started roasting. There was a choice of single-origins from Kenya and Nicaragua, but as the barista hadn’t tried the Nicaraguan, I chose that so that he could sample it. It was juicy brew, but a little thin for my tastes and could have done with more body. However, it really improved as it cooled, its fruity nature coming clearly to the fore.

As well as coffee, Little Man does a range of loose-leaf tea, a selection of cake and a small, but interesting, food menu. It’s also more than just a coffee shop, acting as a meeting place and neighbourhood hub, hosting clubs in the evenings as well as art shows and events. Little Man caters to the out-of-office market too: laptops are welcome and there’s Freelancer Monday, with free coffee from 7-11 in the basement.

IVOR HOUSE • BRIDGE STREET • CARDIFF • CF10 2EE +44 (0) 7933 844234
Monday 07:00 – 21:00 Roaster Roaster (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 21:00 Seating Tables, Bars, Armchairs
Wednesday 07:00 – 21:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 21:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 21:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 08:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 08:00 – 17:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 21st September 2015

Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Cardiff for more great Coffee Spots.

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3 thoughts on “The Little Man Coffee Company

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