Bunker Coffee & Kitchen

The word BUNKER written in white, in the centre of a large black circle, with the smaller words "COFFEE & KITCHEN" written below/When it comes to Bunker Coffee & Kitchen, the first thing that most people I talked to in Newcastle said is that it does excellent food. Having had a fantastic lunch there, I can attest to this first hand. However, this seems to overlook the other part of Bunker’s title, namely the coffee. Like, for example, Jesmond’s Café 1901, Bunker’s built its reputation on food, while it seems that its excellent coffee has passed by almost unnoticed. This, I feel, is a shame, since the coffee I had was pretty damn good too.

Bunker occupies an almost-basement in a large, curved building at the top of Newcastle’s Carliol Square. It’s a large, uncluttered space, with plenty of seating, the sort of place you could hold a business meeting in or sit with your laptop for an afternoon. The food’s all freshly-prepared on site and the lunch menu, with soup, curry, salad box and a choice of three wraps, changes daily. The coffee, which, in contrast, only changes every couple of weeks, is from local roaster, Colour Coffee. There are single-origins on espresso, filter (V60, Aeropress or Chemex for two) or, if you’re in a hurry, batch-brew from the ever-reliable Moccamaster.

November 2016: Bunker Coffee is no more, but rather than closing completely, the space was taken over by Joe of Flat Caps fame, reopening as Flat Caps Carliol Square.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • At the top end of Newcastle's Carliol Square, you'll find Bunker Coffee & Kitchen.
  • It's in an interesting building, which curves around to match the line of the street...
  • ... which exhibits an impressive slope! The door, by the way, is all way on the right.
  • Bunker has an events space, The Auditorium, & next door, Campusnorth, a co-working space.
  • Nice and simple A-board.
  • The view of Bunker from the bottom of the steps leading down from the door.
  • The view from the opposite 'corner' (in as much as a curved wall can have a corner).
  • And from a real corner this time, diametrically opposite the door.
  • The counter, by the way, dominates the back wall.
  • Bunker is quite a bit below street level, as witnessed by these steps down from the door.
  • There's seating spread out around the curved front wall, the windows following street level.
  • These two high tables occupy the space under the frst of four windows.
  • The next window is unoccupied, but then comes the first of two window bars...
  • ... the second of which is under the fourth and final window. We're nearly underground now!
  • Finally there's this cosy corner sofa unit.
  • Another look at the cosy sofa unit, which seems to be built out of chip-board.
  • The rest of the seating is liberally scattered about the centre of the room...
  • ... occupying the space between the counter and windows, but without cluttering it up.
  • It's a mix of picnic tables with benches like this one...
  • ... and weird, triangular-shaped tables like this.
  • Finally, ahead and to the right of you at the bottom of the stairs, another corner sofa unit.
  • There's also this corridor to the right of the counter, leading to The Auditorium.
  • The view back from the corridor to the door.
  • I appreciated the flowers that were on some of the tables.
  • Meanwhile, these roses were on the end of the counter.
  • There were lots of lightbulbs towards the back of Bunker...
  • ... mostly hanging over the counter.
  • Another look at the light-fittings over the counter.
  • I loved the way that the bulbs were reflected in the glass light-fittings.
  • Last one, I promise.
  • The counter itself, the heart of Bunker, with the open kitchen behind it.
  • The menu is chalked on the A-board to the right of the counter. Plenty of options!
  • There are salads, with a selection of swet things on the glass top above.
  • There are also hand-made wraps (as well as soup and a curry).
  • The coffee end of Bunker is off to the left of the counter...
  • ... while the menu is projected on a screen behind the counter (interspersed with adverts).
  • The coffee-end of the counter, with the brew bar tucked away around the corner.
  • You can sit here and watch your coffee being made if you like.
  • Or you can have something from the ever-reliable Mokkamaster is you prefer not to wait.
  • My filter coffee, a Brazilian from Colour Coffee, made through the Aeropress.
  • And my lunch, the zen box of three salads.
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Newcastle’s Bunker Coffee & Kitchen, which opened last summer, has been steadily building a reputation as a go-to place in the city centre for great food, and, it seems, with less fanfare, great coffee too. Equidistant between Flat Caps Coffee and Pink Lane Coffee, and a five-minute walk from Newcastle’s latest addition, Hatch Coffee, it’s just a little off the beaten track, in the shadow of the A167(M) as it carves its way through the city, just east of the centre.

Bunker occupies part of the bottom of a large, six-storey building on Carliol Square, all brick pillars, concrete lintels and large windows, giving it an Art Deco feel. Whether it’s the ground floor or basement is a matter of perspective since the street curves steeply up to the left, the front wall of Bunker following the curve, punctured by four windows. Each of these is at pavement level and consequently, they start progressively further up the wall, each getting narrower until they disappear altogether in the corner opposite the door. Personally I’m going for basement since, even from the double doors on the far right-hand side, you need to descend a few broad steps to reach floor-level.

Once inside, Bunker is a remarkably large, uncluttered space, with an equally large, uncluttered counter at the back, just to the left of a short corridor leading to The Auditorium, the Bunker’s 150-person event space. The counter looks as if it’s made of chipboard, and is flanked by two similarly-constructed chipboard sofa corner seats. The first is to the right, at the bottom of the steps, while the second is in the far left-hand (windowless) corner, beyond the counter.

Most of the seating, three triangular, three-person tables and three picnic tables with attached benches, is scattered around the ample space between the counter and the windows, sharing it with three iron girders which do the important job of holding up the ceiling. The rest of seating is spread out along the front wall. Immediately to the left of the steps are two high tables, projecting out of the wall beneath the first window, the seating provided by high stools. These are followed by a pair of narrow bars under the third and fourth windows, each with similar stools. I liked them, but sadly for me, the stools were simply too small for my ample backside, so it was uncomfortable sitting there for any length of time.

The counter has the food on the right, the daily lunch-time menu chalked on the board to the right, with the salad, wraps and cakes displayed on the counter top. At the left-hand is the coffee, the espresso machine first, then, around the corner, the brew-bar. There are a couple of chairs here, where you can sit to watch your coffee being made.

I had the Zen Box, a mix of three salads, for lunch. I’m not normally a salad fan, but I found this one extremely tasty and filling, approaching the bench-mark for high-quality salads, Daisy Green. I paired it with an Aeropress of a single-origin Brazilian, a full-bodied coffee, with quite a smoky taste, which really held its own as it cooled. It was a great accompaniment to my lunch, whereas something more delicate may well have got lost in the salad’s dominant flavours.

www.bunkercoffee.co.uk +44 (0) 7521 940196
Monday 08:30 – 16:30 Roaster Colour Coffee (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:30 – 16:30 Seating Tables, Benches, Bars, Comfy Chairs
Wednesday 08:30 – 16:30 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 08:30 – 16:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:30 – 16:30 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 10:00 – 16:00 Wifi Free
Sunday CLOSED Power Yes
Chain No Visits 23rd May 2016

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

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