Back in the summer of 2016, Joe of Newcastle’s Flat Caps Coffee, decided to launch a Kickstarter to fund a second coffee shop alongside the legendary basement on Ridley Place. Five months (and one successful Kickstarter) later and Flat Caps has not one, but two new coffee shops. Funny how these things work out… Flat Caps Carliol Square is the first of these, while the second, Flat Caps Campus North, is next door.
Eagle-eyed readers will spot something familiar about Flat Caps Carliol Square. Not long after the Kickstarter was successfully funded, the opportunity to take over Bunker Coffee & Kitchen presented itself. However, this isn’t just a re-badging of an existing operation: other than the physical space itself, Flat Caps has pretty much changed everything, creating a new coffee shop just as thoroughly as if a new build had been fitted out…
Those who know Flat Caps Ridley Place will at least find the coffee offering familiar: three coffees, each available as espresso or filter, changing on a regular basis from a limited cast of roasters. Added to that is a much-expanded food offering, taking advantage of the large kitchen space at Carliol Square, plus extended opening hours.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Unlike Flat Caps Ridley Place, which is an actual basement, Carliol Square occupies an almost-basement at the bottom of a large, six-storey building on Newcastle’s Carliol Square. Whether Flat Caps is on the ground floor or basement is a matter of perspective since the street curves steeply up to the left, the front wall of Flat Caps following the curve, punctured by four windows. Each of these is at pavement level and consequently, they begin 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, it’s a remarkably large, uncluttered space, with an equally large, uncluttered counter at the back, behind which lurks the kitchen. At this point, the comparisons with the old Bunker Coffee end: pretty much everything else has changed.
Meanwhile, comparisons to Ridley Place are more contrast than comparison: whereas that was a one-man (Joe) operation, Carliol Square is a three-/four-person job. I didn’t get my tape-measure out, but I figure you could (almost) fit the seating area at Ridley Place in the kitchen area behind the counter at Carliol Square.
The actual seating area is probably four to five times that of Ridley Place. There are three rows of two-person tables which run parallel to the counter, while slightly following the curve of the wall. I suspect Flat Caps could have fitted a fourth row in, but instead left plenty of space between tables and counter for those ordering/waiting to order. There’s also a row of four-person tables along the windows, which definitely follows the curve of the wall.
On the right-hand side there’s a nook just beyond the door which is occupied by twelve-person communal table with stools. There are also a handful of stools at the far end of the counter, where you can sit and watch the coffee being made. Finally, in the far corner beyond the counter, are a small selection of armchairs and sofas, which prove extremely popular.
The counter has the cake on the right, with the menus on the wall behind the counter/kitchen, although there are also printed menus on the tables. The coffee is on the left-hand end of the counter, espresso machine first followed, around the corner, by the brew-bar.
The coffee offering is the same as at Ridley Place, with the same three beans on offer. These are bought in and when they’re gone, another takes its place. Each bean can be had through any of the preparation methods: espresso, batch-brew, Aeropress, Kalita Wave or (for two to four people) Syphon. However, one of the beans is preferred for espresso and batch-brew.
I started off with a flat white, made with Workshop’s La Parraquia from Guatemala, the preferred option for espresso. This was a lovely, fruity coffee, with the sort of interesting complexity I come to expect from coffee at Flat Caps.
Since there’s a kitchen, Flat Caps has an expanded food offering, including breakfast, which is available all day, and sandwiches, which make an appearance at lunchtime. I had avocado and poached eggs on toast which arrived on a huge plate, consisting of two slices of sour-dough toast, each covered with a sliced avocado and drizzled in a sweet, balsamic dressing. Perched, slightly precariously, on top of this ensemble were two perfectly-poached eggs. The bread, meanwhile was excellent, as were the avocados. My only complaint is that everything was so good that there was nothing to complain about…
December 2016: Flat Caps Carliol Square has won the 2016 Best Breakfast Award.
|9-11 CARLIOL SQUARE • NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE • NE1 6UF|
|www.flatcapscoffee.com||+44 (0) 191 232 7836|
|Monday||08:00 – 19:00||Roaster||Guests (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 19:00||Seating||Tables, Sofas, Counter|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 19:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 19:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 19:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||10:00 – 16:00||Wifi||Free|
|Sunday||10:00 – 16:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||Local||Visits||6th December 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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