Bolt Coffee at the Dean Hotel

The words "Bolt Coffee Co" written in a circular wooden sign.Slowly but surely, hotel coffee is improving, particularly in the USA, where speciality coffee shops in hotel lobbies seems to be increasingly a thing. Now, joining the likes of Stumptown in the Ace Hotel and Intelligentsia in the High Line Hotel in New York City, we have Bolt Coffee in the lobby of Providence’s Dean Hotel. It was on my list during my first visit to Providence in the summer of 2015, but I ran out of time and it was only on my return earlier this year that I finally made it.

As coffee shops go, Bolt is fairly small, set back behind the lobby and with its own entrance direct from the car park. There’s a small counter at the back, a communal table in front of that, and then a square of seating consisting of a pair of sofas, a bench and a couple of armchairs, all arranged around a large coffee table.

What it lacks in size it more than makes up for in coffee, with Seattle’s Kuma Coffee providing the beans. There’s a blend on espresso, joined by a single-origin on bulk-brew and two more on pour-over, through either the Kalita Wave or Clever Dripper.

July 2023: these days, Bolt Coffee is a roaster as well as a cafe, roasting its own coffee from a dedicated facility on Smith Hill in Providence. There are also two more coffee shops, one at the RISD Museum and the other in downtown Providence.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The Dean Hotel, on Providence's Fountain Street, as seen looking across the car park.
  • Not that there's much sign of a coffee shop inside until you see the A-board.
  • If you go in through the hotel's main entrance, you need to head up these stairs...
  • ... which lead to this long corridor to the back of the hotel...
  • ... taking you past Bolt Coffee (on the right) in the process.
  • The whole ensemble as seen from the top of the stairs: seating to the right, communal table beyond that and counter at the back. The door to the car park is by the communal table.
  • Carrying on past the counter leads to the rest of the hotel. Note the mirror on the left.
  • The view coming the other way: this is how to get to Bolt from your room in the hotel.
  • The main seating is this square of sofas/bench/chairs around a single coffee table.
  • The two chairs, backs to the corridor.
  • The communal table, which was continuously occupied while I was there.
  • The second of the two mirrors, the one opposite the seating...
  • ... and one of the two exercise horses. I guess you could sit on it.
  • Neat use for a step-ladder. This stands between the two mirrors.
  • Reflections...
  • Not reflections.
  • The bank of spot lights above the main seating square.
  • Bar, Karaoke, Toilets. An interesting combination!
  • I loved the tiled floor! Such pretty patterns.
  • The counter, as seen reflected in the mirror opposite...
  • ... and seen here the correct way round.
  • Coffee!
  • Cake! Well, would have been cake, had I got there earlier...
  • The mirror behind the counter. It made photographing things interesting.
  • The coffee menu was handily displayed on the counter.
  • The espresso kit, plus the bulk-brewer, is on the left-hand side.
  • Let's give it a go: first step, tamp...
  • ... then attach the portafilter and slide the paddle over.
  • Here it comes...
  • The two streams start to coalesce...
  • ... into a single stream of espresso.
  • My resulting espresso, served in a handleless cup with a glass of water as standard.
  • However, I also wanted a pour-over.
  • The coffee shelf: the alternative to looking at the menu to see what's on!
  • This is what I had for my pour-over.
  • Kettles. And reflections of kettles.
  • Bolt uses the Kalita Wave filter...
  • ... but my barista recommended the Clever Dripper.
  • Just fill it up and set the timer going...
  • ... and when it's done, place it on the carafe and out comes the coffee...
  • ... filtering as it goes.
  • A sign of a nice, even extraction.
  • My coffee was served in a carafe with a cup on the side, which is how it should be.
  • It was also lovely :-)
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Although speciality coffee shops are making an appearance in UK hotels (Small Batch on Brighton’s Jubilee Street and Bulldog Edition in Shoreditch spring to mind) I only seem to visit American ones. Bolt Coffee is the latest, in the lobby of the Dean Hotel on Fountain Street, downtown Providence. It has its own entrance from the hotel’s car park, so you wouldn’t necessarily know that you were in a hotel, although you can also enter via the front door, and, if you’re a guest, you can come down directly from your room.

Bolt occupies a simple space, its refined look enhanced by white-painted walls and ceiling. There’s a sense of space, helped by several large mirrors, but the icing on the cake is the gloriously-tiled floor with its geometric patterns. Entering from the car park, the counter’s to your right, with the seating on the left. Alternatively, coming in through the hotel, a short flight of steps leads up to a corridor which heads through to the back of the hotel, going directly past Bolt on the right, starting with the seating before reaching the counter at the back.

The main seating area is square, centred on a large, low coffee table. There’s a padded bench-seat against the right-hand wall and opposite that, backs to the corridor, are two armchairs. The other two sides have a large sofa each, facing each other across the coffee table. Between this seating area and the counter is a long, eight-person communal table, running parallel with the counter.

On the left-hand wall are two large mirrors, one opposite the seating, the other opposite the counter. Each has a low, old-school exercise horse in front of it which could double as seating, while a stepladder between two mirrors serves as a newspaper stand. A further mirror occupies the back wall behind the counter, all slightly disconcerting for those who do not like looking at themselves!

Most of the light comes from a bank of spotlights over the seating area, plus two large lamps which hang above the table, although there is some natural light from the door to the right.

During my visit in February, the coffee was from Seattle’s Kuma Coffee, although the barista said there were plans to introduce guest roasters. The counter is uncluttered, with the coffee equipment relegated to the back. There’s a single-group La Marzocco G3, its grinder and the obligatory bulk-brewer to the left, while to the right is the boiler for pour-overs.

The espresso was a blend of two Ethiopian single-origins, while there was a Colombian single-origin on bulk-brew, and another Colombian, plus an Ethiopian on pour-over. I started with the espresso, served in a large, handleless cup. While bright and fruity, it wasn’t at all sharp and mellowed with the final mouthful.

I had this standing up at the counter, chatting with the barista, in a very Italian manner. Wanting something to linger over, I opted for a pour-over, the barista recommending the Colombian Esperanza through the Clever Dripper. Unusually for America, this was served in a carafe with a cup on the side; I approve!

It turned out to be a very mellow, well-balanced coffee, which evolved and matured as it cooled, more flavours coming through until it reached its peak when almost cold. Quite superb!

THE DEAN HOTEL • 122 FOUNTAIN STREET • PROVIDENCE • RI 02903 • USA +1 401-533-6506
Monday 07:00 – 16:00 Roaster Kuma + Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 16:00 Seating Bench, Table, 2 Sofas, 2 Comfortable Chairs
Wednesday 07:00 – 16:00 Food Cakes
Thursday 07:00 – 16:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:00 – 16:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 07:00 – 16:00 Wifi Free
Sunday 07:00 – 14:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 18th February 2016

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