Wainwright’s Speciality Coffee

The Wainwright's Speciality Coffee logo from the store in Clifton, Bristol.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 Coffee, on Regent Street in Clifton, Bristol. Does what it says on the sign.
  • Regent Street is surprisingly steep!
  • Watch your step when you come in! There's a mismatch between the street and floor level...
  • A panoramic view from just inside the door.
  • A view of the seating, as seen from the right-hand sidel.
  • The front of Wainwright's Coffee, seen at dusk.
  • As well as the tables in the middle, a bar runs from the door & along the right-hand wall.
  • This mostly has stools, although if you sit in the windows, you get a nifty bar-chair.
  • There's also a stand-alone bar to the left of the door, which doubles as a water station.
  • The bulk of the seating consists of these four four-person tables and the pair of sofas.
  • Each of the tables has a copy of the food menu...
  • ... as does the coffee table between the two sofas.
  • The counter, which is a beautiful, wooden affair, is in its own nook at the back on the right.
  • Wainwright's really is beautifully put together. This, for example, is the door to the toilet.
  • Another great feature is the mirrors on either wall.
  • The ones on the left-hand wall also have a bicycle hanging above them.
  • More mirrors! And another bicycle. Or it might be a reflection...
  • You can probably tell I was somewhat captivated by the mirrors & what you can see in them.
  • See what I mean?
  • Florence and the (espresso) machine. Bet she's never heard that one before...
  • Nice logo!
  • Wainwright's also has lots of lights. These, for example, hang from the middle of the ceiling.
  • The lights in the middle are matched by those hanging in the corner by the window...
  • ... and on the other side as well.
  • Another look at the lights in the corner to the right of the door.
  • Getting all arty now...
  • And now I'm showing off.
  • Meanwhile, these lights hang over the counter.
  • More of the lights hanging over the counter.
  • All the pretty lights... Last one, I promise.
  • The counter is at the back, with a description of the pour-over methods on the wall above.
  • The counter area itself, with a small kitchen hidden behind the door at the back.
  • There's a small selection of cakes to the right-hand side.
  • The menu is chalked up on the wall. Illustrations by the talented Florence.
  • The espresso machine, a strikingly white La Marzocco, unusually on the corner of the counter.
  • The espresso machine and its grinders (house, guest and filter).
  • The retails shelves, with the guest (Maude) and the house (Clifton).
  • More coffee, this time from behind the counter, including some of the filter options.
  • Soft drinks, more filter and my favourite hot chocolate from Kokoa Collection.
  • Down to business: a beautifully-pulled shot of the Parallel blend from Maude Coffee Roasters.
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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.

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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5 thoughts on “Wainwright’s Speciality Coffee

  1. Lovely, thank you for sharing, will definitely be checking out Wainwrights next time we’re in Bristol, it’s always exciting to learn about new cafes! It is great that they work with local coffee companies and have guest roasts as well, what do you like about Clinton coffee?

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