The Moon & Sixpence

A lovely Kokoa Collection hot chocolate served in a distinctive mug at The Moon & Sixpence in Cockermouth.Cumbria’s not renowned as a hot-bed of speciality coffee, but that’s slowly changing, led by local roasters such as Carvetii. I first met Stephen, who plays an important role in this story, in 2015 at the Carvetii stand at Cup North (forerunner of the Manchester Coffee Festival). When I looked for him the following year, I learnt that he had left (with Gareth and Angharad’s blessing) to fulfil his dream of opening his own coffee shop, The Moon & Sixpence, in his home town of Cockermouth, just to the west of the Lakes.

It took me a year to get around to visiting, of course, but finally I managed to call in, just after The Moon & Sixpence’s first birthday, Stephen having opened the shop on 1st October 2016, (which happened to be International Coffee Day, an auspicious start if ever there was one!). Naturally, the coffee is from Carvetii, with the seasonal blend and decaf on espresso, plus a single-origin on batch-brew. This is joined by a selection of tea, plus hot chocolate from old friends, Kokoa Collection. Unusually, The Moon & Sixpence doesn’t offer food, just a range of pastries and cakes, all made in-house by the staff.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On Cockermouth's main street, stands a famillar (local) name with a new purpose.
  • It's The Moon & Sixpence, Cumbria's latest speciality coffee shop.
  • There are some outside tables, but they're meant for a drier day than the one I was there!
  • Another option is to sit inisde on one of the three comfortable chairs at the window-bar.
  • Alternatively, a padded bench runs along the right-hand wall, lined with three tables.
  • There's a four-person table by the window, then a two-person, then another four-person.
  • Finally, at the back, there's the rather magnificent counter.
  • The only other seating is provided by these three projecting tables along the left-hand wall.
  • However, the owner, Stephen, tells me that they are unpopular & so will soon be replaced.
  • Works of art abound. These pastel sketches are on the right-hand wall above the tables.
  • They are all by a local artist and are all for sale.
  • Talking of locals, this  is by a customer, celebrating The Moon & Sixpence's 1st birthday.
  • There's a display of interesting, old coffee pots in the window...
  • ... while flowers brighten the place up.
  • I particularly liked the sign on the door.
  • There's a combined menu/notice board to the right of the counter.
  • Talking of which, the counter has some amazing copper-piping lights...
  • And some fantastic exposed light-bulbs such as this one.
  • The counter, in all its glory.
  • Right on the corner is a little display area...
  • ... which includes some local produce from a nearby organic farm...
  • ... as well as the current farm soup.
  • The remainder of the counter-front is given over to the cakes, all baked in-house.
  • The drinks menu is on a blackboard at the back of the counter...
  • ... while various bags of coffee, boxes of tea and packets of hot chocolate are for sale.
  • The mainstay of the coffee side of things is the La Marzocco espresso machine...
  • ... while tucked in the corner is the bacth-brewer, although there are plans for pour-over.
  • I had to samplle the espresso, made using Carvetii's seasonal blend.
  • All the drinks are served in various random pieces of crockery that Stephen has collected.
  • This Kokoa Collection hot chocolate, for example, came in a lovely mug...
  • ... matched on by the loveliness of the latte art.
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The Moon & Sixpence is on the southern side of Cockermouth’s main street (conveniently called Main Street), midway between Station and Challoner Streets. A modest spot, there’s a simple, square window on the right and the door on the left, the shop itself extending back to a depth maybe three times its width. The seating is just as simple, with a table outside on the pavement, and a window-bar inside, running the full width of the window, complete with three orange chairs on swivel-mounts.

The remaining seating lines the two walls, with the counter at the back. On the right, a padded bench runs from the window to the counter, with two four-person tables sandwiching a two-person table between them. On the left, there are also three tables, although these are small, high, semi-circular projections from the wall, each seating two people. These, Stephen told me, are unpopular and due to be replaced in a planned refurbishment.

Beyond the seating comes the counter, which is against the right-hand wall, leaving just enough room on the left to file past to the toilets at the back. This bespoke beauty almost looks like a question mark, with the curved top facing the windows and the stem running back to the back wall. A lovely lighting rig, constructed of copper piping, hangs above the counter, and, I believe, was made by Stephen’s brother-in-law.

The name of the coffee shop, The Moon & Sixpence, is an old one, by the way, even if the coffee shop is new. It harks back to Stephen’s childhood, when the premises was a clothes shop. It’s been through several businesses since then, but Stephen was keen to bring back the old name and maintain the links with the past. Indeed, this sense of community and continuity runs through the business. As well as using Carvetii for the coffee, Stephen has a network of local suppliers, including Kevin, who makes the bread and pastries, as well as working as a barista there, and Melisa, who bakes all the cakes. A local organic farm also supplies produce, which is for sale on the counter.

This sense of community runs through the shop, with the customers feeling as much friends as anything else. Stephen and his staff are very happy to chat and the barrier that sometimes exists in coffee shops, between behind the counter (staff) and in front of it (customers) is entirely absent here.

Much of the shop is fitted out with upcycled materials, including all the cups, which Stephen buys from second-hand shops, often buying single items, so chances are your cup will be one of a kind. Talking of cups, I had an espresso, made with Carvetii’s seasonal espresso blend and served in a red, cylindrical cup. This was lovely, quite sharp on the first sip, but well-rounded on the second. I paired this with a slice of the awesome vegan spicy marmalade and orange cake, which, despite the billing, wasn’t too spicy. It had a great orange flavour and an amazing texture, truly a king among cakes.

At the moment, The Moon & Sixpence, only serves batch-brew, but Stephen’s keen to expand into offering hand-brewed filter, with the preparation method (V60, Aeropress, Chemex and maybe more) chosen to match the particular coffee, so watch this space.

December 2017: The Moon & Sixpence won the 2017 Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.

January 2021: For more about The Moon & Sixpence, including a link to an interview with owner, Stephen, take a look at this spotlight feature from The Moon & Sixpence’s roasters, Carvetii Coffee Roasters.

29 MAIN STREET • COCKERMOUTH • CA13 9LE +44 (0) 1900 267973
Monday 09:00 – 17:00 Roaster Carvetii (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 09:00 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Window Bar, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 09:00 – 17:00 Food Cake, Soup
Thursday 09:00 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 09:00 – 17:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday CLOSED Power Yes
Chain No Visits 21st October 2017

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3 thoughts on “The Moon & Sixpence

  1. Pingback: 2018 Awards – Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. Pingback: Coffee Spot Awards 2018 | Brian's Coffee Spot

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