Coffee Lab, Stockbridge

The awesome latte art in my flat white at Coffee Lab, Stockbridge.Stockbridge, between Winchester and Salisbury on the A30, is, in many ways, a stereotypical English country town. The long, broad, straight High Street which runs through the centre of town is lined with quaint cottages, independent shops, country pubs and old-fashioned tea rooms. And a speciality coffee shop. Well, maybe not that stereotypical after all.

Coffee Lab is the rapidly-growing mini-chain, spreading out from its home in Winchester through Hampshire (as far east as Chichester) and Wiltshire (as far west as Gloucester), with a Midlands outpost to the north in Leamington Spa (opening soon). Meanwhile its march southwards has only been stopped by the sea. The Stockbridge branch is towards the Salisbury end of the High Street, above a pizza restaurant with excellent views up and down the High Street.

The coffee, as ever, is from The Roasting Party, with two blends on espresso, the house-blend (Create) and a second (Thrive). If you want filter coffee, there is a choice of two single-origins (a Kenyan Peaberry or a Brazilian during my visit) through V60 or Aeropress, while there’s also loose-leaf tea. If you’re hungry, the Coffee Lab has limited selection of four sandwiches and small selection of cake.

October 2020: the Coffee Lab is down to just three locations, this one and two more in Winchester, while the coffee is now roasted by DT Coffee, set up by Dhan Tamang, one of Coffee Lab’s founders.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Driving through Stockbridge, on my way to Salisbury, and what should catch my eye...
  • ... but this lovely building with its little courtyard, bounded on one side by a stream.
  • The A-board confirms it: this is the home to another branch of Coffee Lab!
  • But where, exactly? Well, there's the pizza place downstairs, so Coffee Lab must be...
  • ... upstairs on the balcony. But how to get up there? It took me ages to work it out!
  • You need this door, into the pizza restaurant, in the corner at the back of the courtyard.
  • Once you're through the door, Coffee Lab is well signposted. In fact, it's obvious.
  • You just go up the stairs ahead of you (this is the view from the middle landing)...
  • ... which then double back on themselves (this is the view from the top).
  • There's another landing up here. Ignore the double doors (for now) and turn right.
  • Dogs welcome! I know a few people who will be pleased by that.
  • The door on the right leads into a long, narrow room under the eaves of the building...
  • ... where you'll find the counter, tucked away on the right.
  • Meanwhile, to the left, there are a pair of high, four-person tables flanking the window.
  • That's not all though. A dividing wall at the back leads through to more seating.
  • This is the main seating area, a lovely space with tables around all the walls...
  • ... starting with this semi-circular table under the window in the left-hand wall.
  • Lovely view.
  • There's more seating (and another window) in the back wall.
  • This starts with a two-person round table tucked into the corner on the left...
  • ... then there's another semi-circular table under the window.
  • The view from the right-hand corner at the back.
  • There are two more tables along the right-hand wall, one small (back) & one large (front).
  • Finally, you can sit at a little bar mounted in the gap in the dividing wall.
  • Before we leave the back room, let's look at some of the art work.
  • While I was there, it was by local artist, Lynne Pugh. This is a typical scene...
  • ... although I quite liked this one of the ocean waves (no, Stockbridge is not by the sea).
  • However, I was particularly taken by this stained glass piece.
  • The back room also has this small firepace in the right-hand wall.
  • I like the gap in the dividing wall. It really connects the two spaces.
  • Before we get down to business, let's go back to the doors at the top of the stairs.
  • These lead out onto a the long balcony down the left-hand side of Coffee Lab.
  • As well as the two benches at the front, there are also these bench-seats at the back.
  • The views down Stockbridge High Street are great from up here!
  • Time to go back inside.
  • To business. The counter has a handy sign, pointing, to the right...
  • ... to the cakes and brownies which are next to the doorway...
  • ... and to the left, where you'll find the menu over the gap in the dividing wall.
  • Behind/to the right of the counter is an neat set of retail shelves...
  • ... selling a wide range of coffee making kit as well as beans.
  • Also tucked away away down here are the sandwiches. There are four in all.
  • Time for some coffee, I think.
  • My flat white, with some excellent latte art, in a lovely blue cup.
  • The latte art deserves a second look.
  • I also had one of the sandwiches: mozzarella, sun-dried tomato & pesto.
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Finding the Stockbridge branch of Coffee Lab, which is celebrating its first birthday this month, was pure serendipity. Driving to Salisbury to visit the Coffee Lab there, I saw it as I passed through Stockbridge along the A30. I immediately found somewhere to park and headed over, although it took me ages to work out how to get in!

Coffee Lab is on the top floor of a long, thin two-storey building which runs back from the High Street. There’s an open courtyard bounded by the building on the left and by a small stream on the right, one of many that cut through the town running north to south. Although Coffee Lab, with its prominent balcony overlooking the courtyard, is easy to spot, I struggled to find the entrance.

It’s actually in the far corner of the courtyard, which I took to be the entrance to the pizza restaurant. I wandered around in vain looking for another door before someone took pity on me and came out to ask if I needed any help. As soon as the door was opened, everything became blindingly obvious…

Ignore the pizza restaurant to the left and look dead ahead, where you’ll find the Coffee Lab clearly signposted. Just follow the signs upstairs, where you find yourself on a broad landing, with Coffee Lab off to the right. Meanwhile, the double doors straight ahead lead to long, thin balcony, which runs the full length of the building’s left-hand side, overlooking the courtyard and with some excellent views along the High Street. There are a couple of benches at the near end, while at the far end, furthest away from the door, are two bench seats with built-in tables.

While very pleasant, the balcony was extremely cold when I was there, so I headed inside into the Coffee Lab proper. This occupies a large, long space, separated into front and back rooms by a wooden dividing wall, with a door on the left and a large opening on the right, which helps make it feel like one space.

The front part has the counter, tucked away on the right, and two thin, four-person high tables with stools on the left, flanking the window. The bulk of the seating is on the second (back) part, with windows offering views up (left-hand wall) and down (back wall) the High Street (although up and down are arbitrary). The seating is arranged around the edges, with a variety of tables, ranging from semi-circular ones under the two windows to a six-person communal table against the right-hand wall. It’s really beautiful inside, particularly in the back room with its wooden floorboards and whitewashed walls and ceiling.

Coffee Lab gets all its coffee from The Roasting Party, with two bespoke blends. The first, which acts as the house blend, is known as Create, but used to go by the name of Einstein, while the second is called Thrive (was Heisenberg). I had a lovely, smooth flat white made using the Create blend. As is expected, since the Coffee Lab’s head barista is six-times UK Latte Art champion, Dhan Tamang, the latte art in my flat white was awesome. I paired this with a toasted mozzarella, sundried tomato and pesto sandwich on crusty ciabatta bread, which was just bursting with flavour.

Monday 07:00 – 17:00 Roaster DT Coffee( espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Tables (balcony)
Wednesday 07:00 – 17:00 Food Sandwiches, Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 17:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 17:30 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 08:00 – 17:00 Power Yes
Chain Regional Visits 24th November 2017

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