Bristol’s long been one of my favourite coffee cities, replete with any number of excellent establishments. Except, I’ve found, in Clifton. However, this has all changed in the last year with the emergence of Wainwright’s Speciality Coffee, a lovely spot on Regent Street, right in the heart of Clifton village.
That I found out about it at all was large due to a chance encounter in Full Court Press with Matt, of Leeds-based roasters, Maude Coffee. Matt told me all about Wainwright’s and, if that wasn’t enough, the next day, Alex of Bakesmiths was singing its praises, so off I went. And, in fairness, Mike Stanbridge also told me about it on twitter back in July.
Wainwright’s is a lovely spot, beautifully laid out, with some gorgeous lighting too. The new manager, Ben, has also upped the coffee game, with the house espresso from the local Clifton Coffee Roasters and a regularly-changing guest on the second grinder. There are also filter options through the V60 and Aeropress, each matched to a particular single-origin coffee. During my visit, Clifton was on the Aeropress, Maude on V60.
As if that wasn’t enough, there’s hot chocolate from Kokoa Collection, and a decent breakfast/lunch menu based mostly around things on toast and sandwiches, all made using bread from Bakesmiths.
December 2019: I’ve just learnt (through Mike Stanbridge) that Wainwright’s is now Foliage Cafe. I’m not sure what else (if anything) has changed.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Wainwright’s Speciality Coffee occupies a modest-looking spot on Regent Street. The front is mostly glass, with generous ¾-height windows flanking the central door and running the full width of the store. There are some benches outside on the surprisingly steep street, two to the door’s left and one to the right. Inside, the mismatch between street level and the level of the shop is accounted for by a semi-circular step, an interesting feature that accommodates the inward-opening door, but which can trip up the unwary (and no, I didn’t fall over it!).
There’s an interesting range of seating. To the left of the door is a standalone window-bar doubling as a water station. Meanwhile, on the right, another window-bar makes its way around from the door and all the way along the right-hand wall until it meets the counter at the back. The bulk of the seating’s in the centre of the room. There are three square four-person tables in a row at the front, then, at the back, another four-person table on the right, while on the left, two sofas face each other across a coffee table, one with its back to the wall. This leaves a clear path along the right-hand side from the door to the counter, a gorgeous, wood-built affair tucked away in a deep recess at the back.
Indeed, gorgeous is a great description of the interior. Maybe it was the grey day I was there, but it felt very warm and welcoming, particularly with all the wood, including a wooden floor, and the exposed light-bulbs. It’s a reasonable size too, helped by having relatively high ceilings and with two large wooden-framed mirrors on either wall.
There are plans to change the layout, which I can understand. As much as I love the look-and-feel, it doesn’t make the best use of available space and it can get very crowded very quickly, particularly if there’s more than one pram in the house. The trick will be to see if Wainwright’s can maintain the atmosphere while increasing the space.
I discovered that I’d already met the new manager, Ben. He’d taken over two months ago, previously having worked for Maude Coffee (the bit Matt hadn’t told me), which is where I’d met him during a flying visit to Leeds over the summer. Maude was the guest roaster during my visit (hence Matt’s presence in Bristol) with the Parallel blend on espresso. Ben tends to buy in small quantities of coffee, moving onto to another guest when it’s gone.
Since I know Clifton Coffee Roasters (suppliers of the house blend) very well and had already had quite a bit of Clifton coffee on the trip, I went for a shot of the Parallel, a blend of two Guatemalans. This was a very fine espresso, well-balanced, with a complex, rich flavour and beautifully pulled.
I was well looked after by both Ben and his colleague, Florence, who, as well as her barista skills, is a talented artist, having drawn the menu board behind the counter. Having been recognised the moment I walked in the door, I spent much of my time sitting quietly by the counter, watching Ben and Florence interact with the various customers, a mix of dedicated locals and first-time visitors such as myself. Consider me impressed.
|17 REGENT STREET • BRISTOL • BS8 4HW|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Clifton + Guests (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Bars, Sofas, Benches (outside)|
|Wednesday||CLOSED||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 17:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:30 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||08:30 – 17:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||9th December 2016|
If you liked this Coffee Spot, then check out the rest of Bristol’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Bristol.
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