Kapow Coffee, Thornton’s Arcade

Kapow! The neon sign from Kapow Coffee's second branch in Leeds' Thornton's Arcade.The original Kapow Coffee is a small spot, tucked away on The Calls in Leeds. This, the second branch, which opened in April 2017, is a much larger affair, although initially it seems not much bigger than the original. Located in the magnificent Thornton’s Arcade, one of Leeds’ many fine examples of Victorian architecture, it occupies a narrow store, spread over three storeys, with a smattering of seating on each floor.

The extra space has allowed Kapow to expand its coffee offering compared to the original, where there’s just a single espresso blend on offer. Here, the Revelation blend from Union Hand-roasted is a permanent feature, joined a regularly-rotating guest espresso. There’s a selection of single-origin coffees available via the V60, while there’s an even larger selection of retail bags and, if you ask nicely, the staff will make you a pour-over of any of these. While I was there, local roasters Maude Coffee and North Star were well-presented, with Maude’s Parallel making an appearance as the guest espresso.

If you are hungry, there’s a selection of cakes and sandwiches displayed on the counter, while if coffee’s not your thing, there’s hot chocolate and tea from Bristol’s Canton Tea Co.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

Thornton’s Arcade, in Leeds’ compact city centre, is worth a visit in itself. Opened in 1878, it runs from the Briggate to the east to Lands Lane to the west and is almost directly opposite the Victoria Quarter, home of the sadly-missed Opposite kiosk. You’ll find Kapow about half way along on the left-hand side if you’re heading from Victoria Quarter/Briggate.

Occupying a narrow store front with a central, recessed door, there’s a bench outside each of the flanking windows. The left-hand window contains a selection of retail bags of coffee, plus a limited range of kit, while there’s more kit on display in the other window. Inside, the long, narrow space is not much bigger than the original on The Calls. The counter’s on the right, with enough space between it and the window for a pair of benches, facing each other across a solitary coffee table. Meanwhile, a row of three two-person high, square tables project from the left-hand wall. The only natural light comes from the windows and glass door at the front, which in turn gets its light from the glass-roofed arcade, so it’s not the brightest of spots, which only adds to a cosy atmosphere.

There’s more seating upstairs, with stairs running along the left-hand wall from back to front, accessed via an opening in the back wall. Upstairs, on the first floor, a long, single space runs from the large, arched window at the front (which is where the stairs deposit you) to the back wall. The layout’s very simple, with a pair of armchairs in the window and a row of five two-person tables running along a wooden bench along the right-hand wall.

Up here, it feels a much brighter, more open space, with far more light from the single window. The yellow walls are also in contrast to the slightly garish orange tones of the ground floor. Both, however, enjoy some gorgeous wooden floorboards. However, that’s not all, since there’s another flight of stairs, again running from back to front along the left-hand wall.

These give access to a smaller room at the front on the second floor, three smaller arched windows looking out over the arcade just under the curved glass roof. There’s just a single, four-person table up here in what is a very open space, this time with blue walls. Kapow doubles as an art gallery, with the walls decorated with various offerings, including pixelated art by Carl Watson, celebrating the best of independent Leeds, as well as a small display from Harrogate’s Elliott Day who I met in LMDC Espresso Bar where he’s the head barista.

The extra space has allowed the new Kapow to be much more speciality-orientated in its approach to coffee. As well as the espresso offerings, during my visit there were four options from Union Hand-roasted and one from North Star on V60. Meanwhile, Maude, North Star and Rounton Coffee were all well-represented on the retail shelves. All the options change on a regular basis, so there’s always something new to try.

I went for the last of a wild heirloom Ethiopian from Union as a V60. This was served in a beaker, with a cup on the side. A smooth, subtle coffee, it was quite juicy, but well-rounded and went down extremely well.

Monday 08:00 – 18:00 Roaster Union + Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Benches; Benches (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 18:00 Food Cake, Sandwiches
Thursday 08:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 18:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 08:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with login)
Sunday 10:00 – 17:00 Power Yes
Chain Local Visits 29th August 2017

Liked this Coffee Spot? Then check out the rest of Leeds’ speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Leeds.

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  1. Pingback: Kapow Coffee, The Calls | Brian's Coffee Spot

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