Laynes Espresso Update

The original facade of Laynes Espresso on New Station Street, Leeds, before its expansion.Laynes Espresso, on New Station Street, has long been my go-to spot in Leeds, ever since my first visit in the summer of 2014, particularly if I was arriving/leaving by train at Leeds Station, which is literally around the corner. This is the original Laynes Espresso, one of the pioneers of speciality coffee in Leeds. It used to be a small, cosy spot, a few seats fighting the counter for space upstairs, while an equally cosy basement provided overspill seating or a refuge in the winter.

However, towards the end of 2016, Laynes had the opportunity to take over the adjacent space to the right of the original shop. Laynes knocked through both upstairs and down, creating a new coffee shop which is almost unrecognisable from the old one. Gone is the small, cosy spot, replaced by something three times the size, the upstairs transformed into a bright, spacious coffee shop and kitchen, while in the basement, the transformation has been equally striking.

The coffee is still from Square Mile, with Red Brick on espresso and a single-origin pour-over. However, with the extra space comes an expanded menu and an increased focus on food, including an awesome all-day breakfast/brunch menu.

You can see what I made of the new Laynes after the gallery.

  • Laynes Espresso, back in 2014, cutting a striking figure on New Station Street.
  • Now, with the extension into the space next door, it cuts an even more striking figure!
  • The original outside seating: a bench & two chairs. These days, there are four benches.
  • Stepping inside, it's dominated by the counter, which is ahead of you on the left...
  • ... and which is still there, post-expansion, looking as if very little has changed.
  • In the original Laynes, there was a window-bar immediately to your left as you entered...
  • ... and it's still there, although the stools and decoration have changed a bit!
  • Meanwhile, to the right, the original had two high-tables opposite the counter.
  • This is where the big change has come: the wall's gone and suddenly Laynes is huge!
  • The second space upstairs is now the main seating area & there's space for a kitchen too!
  • Again, little's changed in the left-hand part. This takeaway counter/water station...
  • ... was at the back, in front of the stairs to the basement, and it's still there now.
  • Talking of stairs, let's go down and see what's changed.
  • In 2014, against the opposite wall at the bottom of the stairs, was a four-seat bar...
  • ... which you can see more clearly in this view from the main basement seating area.
  • Talking of which, here it is. Well, was. The main seating area was pretty cosy back then!
  • Compare this to the view from the bottom of the stairs today. So much space!
  • The four-person bar at the bottom of the stairs is gone. Now it's just a blank wall.
  • And instead of that cosy basement area, there's now this space, with a table & bar.
  • However, the best is yet to come, as the basement stretches off your left...
  • ...matching the layout above. Once again, the party wall has been knocked through...
  • ... to make this magnificent space, more than doubling the seating available.
  • This second basement area is dominated by this long communal table.
  • To your left, under where the kitchen is upstairs, is a row of two-person tables.
  • Finally, on the other side of the communal table is another bar, this time without seats.
  • The view looking back from the far end of the basement...
  • ... and here looking back into the first seating area.
  • Unlike upstairs, with its two front doors, there's only one way in/out of the basement...
  • ... and that's back up the stairs we came down.
  • The entrance to the stairs lines up nicely with the first of the front doors.
  • The floor downstairs, by the way, has kept its original tiling which I adore.
  • The floor upstairs used to be just as good!
  • Sadly it had to go in the expansion, and while I like the new flagstones, it's not the same.
  • So, to business. Laynes Espresso always did a good line in cakes & pastries.
  • This picture, and the one before it, are from my visit in 2014.
  • This, meanwhile, is from 2017. There's not much change there then!
  • The old Laynes crammed a lot in, including this pour-over station behind the counter...
  • ... which is still there today, although the grinder has been upgraded.
  • The food and drinks menus from 2014...
  • ...have been replaced by this enlarged drinks menu, although the options are similar.
  • Laynes still uses a Synesso espresso machine. This is the one from 2014...
  • ... while this is the 2017 model, complete with upgraded grinders.
  • Back in the day, Laynes had a very limited food menu which was mostly toast-based.
  • Since the expansion, it has been considerably expanded...
  • ... thanks to the large new kitchen next door.
  • My first breakfast at Laynes, a flat white and some toast.
  • On my return, I had to have another flat white, of course...
  • ... while I also had to try out the new breakfast menu. Here's the Laynes Breakfast...
  • ... while I popped back two days later for the Morel Mushroom Florentine.
  • I also tried the pour-over, which is served in a mug...
  • ... along with an interesting take on the tasting note concept. I approve!
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Over the years, Laynes expanded to include Belgrave Hall, the (relatively short-lived) Sheaf Street Canteen and a pop-up in Leeds Dock (neither of which I managed to visit). However, with the expansion at New Station Street, Laynes returned its focus to the original which is, for now, the only branch.

If you remember the original Laynes, it’s at once familiar and yet unrecognisable post-expansion. Much of the left-hand side, which was the original space, is unchanged, except that the wall to the right has been knocked through to the adjoining space, creating a large, bright, open coffee shop to replace the small, cosy one that was there before. The new space, on the right, contains the bulk of the seating, has its own front door, and, at the back, a large, open kitchen where all the food is prepared.

Down in the basement, the change is even more radical. This too has been knocked through to the adjacent basement, but also completely remodelled. Again, the small, cosy (and slightly claustrophobic) basement has been replaced with two large, open spaces, in the process probably trebling the number of seats.

There have been other changes, including the provision of power outlets, particularly down in the basement, and the addition of Wifi, although not at the weekends, when Laynes can be really busy. The only change I regret is the replacement of the gloriously-tiled upstairs floor with large, grey flagstones. These are rather lovely in their own way and would grace many a coffee shop with their presence. However, I remember what went before. The good news is that the basement has retained its original tiled floor.

The other major change is in the food. Building on the expertise gained first through weekend brunches at Belgrave Hall and then at Sheaf Street and various pop-ups, Laynes is as much, if not more, about food as it is about coffee. In a refreshing change, where most places have menus that are mostly meat-based with some vegetarian options, I’d say that Laynes’ menu is 80% vegetarian, mixing the usual staples (toast, porridge, avocado on toast) with some more innovative dishes (grilled parmesan polenta cake and shakshuka). Meat lovers, if desperate, can always order a side of bacon.

Naturally, when I returned to the newly-expanded Laynes, I had to try the new menu. I was torn for choice but ended up with the Laynes breakfast, a gargantuan feast that set me up for the rest of the day. Two slices of gorgeous sourdough toast were topped with braised beans (think baked beans but nicer) and a perfectly-poached egg, with whole roast cherry tomatoes and shallots around the edge. The beans were covered with melted Mayfield cheese, while I had a grilled Portobello mushroom instead of the menu’s chestnut & lemon patty. An instant contender this year’s Coffee Spot Best Breakfast Award!

That was never going to be enough, so I returned two days later for breakfast, having the Morel Mushroom Florentine with a side of sourdough toast. This too was awesome, with the mushrooms in particular bursting with flavour and the egg poached to perfection. Served on a slice of soft brioche bread, it was pretty much perfect.

When it came to coffee, I played it safe on my first visit with a flat white. This was pretty much as expected, Square Mile’s Red Brick going well with the milk. However, on my return, I had a V60 of the Janachute, a rich, juicy brew that made a nice change. I can see Laynes remaining my go-to spot for many years to come on this showing.

Check out my full write-up of the newly-expanded Laynes Espresso, which includes a complete gallery. You can also see what I made of it in my original write-up, from the summer of 2014.

16 NEW STATION STREET • LEEDS • LS1 5DL +44 (0) 7828 823189
Monday 07:00 – 19:00 Roaster Square Mile (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 19:00 Seating Tables, Bars; Benches (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 19:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Sandwiches, Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 19:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 19:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 18:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits Original: 19th/20th June 2014, 20th May 2016
Update: 26th/28th August 2017

If you liked this Coffee Spot, then check out the rest of Leeds’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Leeds.

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