On a busy corner in Stokes Croft in Bristol, opposite Cafe Kino, stands a five-sided building, home to one of a new breed of coffee shop. The Elemental Collective is many things to many people: as well as a coffee shop, it’s a greengrocers, selling fresh fruit and vegetables, a bakers, loaded with freshly-baked bread and pastries, plus a store, stocked with local produce, including milk and eggs. And it’s not just a coffee shop, since it’s also home to Triple Co Roast with the roastery clearly on show at the back on the right, while on the left the Elemental Espresso Bar serves Triple Co Roast’s output.
Triple Co Roast, which has built up an enviable reputation for roasting excellent coffee in a relatively short time, will feature in its own Meet the Roaster in due course, so this Coffee Spot will focus on the espresso bar. There’s a single-origin on espresso, with a different one on pour-over through the Clever Dripper. These change every month or so, although Jo, the man behind Triple Co Roast, doesn’t roast for a specific extraction method, so you may find a given coffee on espresso one month and on pour-over the next.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
The Elemental Collective sits at the northern end of Stokes Croft, the busy road than runs through the heart of this lively Bristol neighbourhood, just before it becomes Cheltenham Road. Although it’s five-sided, Elemental is more wedge-shaped than pentagram, occupying a single-storey extension to a larger building behind it. The main entrance is on the corner where Nine Tree Hill and Sydenham Road meets Stokes Croft, where Elemental tapers almost to a point, just wide enough to accommodate the narrow glass double doors which are flanked by two tall thin windows. If in doubt, look for the dragon on the roof!
Stepping inside, Elemental opens up ahead of you. To your right, a line of windows, stretching from floor to ceiling, run almost the full length along Stokes Croft, a literal window onto the heart of the neighbourhood. To the left, an exposed brick wall runs 30⁰ to the front as it follows Sydenham Road. There’s another window here, a long, rectangular opening in the wall, after which it straightens out to meet the back wall at 90⁰. This is whitewashed and is the original external wall of the building behind Elemental.
All the windows make Elemental an incredibly bright space, and that’s without the large skylight in the centre by the back wall, which is the icing on the cake. High ceilings, open to wooden rafters and aforementioned skylight, give Elemental a sense of space out of all proportion to its size.
The layout’s simple, with the seating on the right, the fruit/veg/produce on the left and the coffee/bakery at the back. There are twin rows of two-person tables along the windows on the right, with a five-person table beyond that, capping off both rows. Right at the back is Triple Co’s 1.5 kg Proaster from Korea, partitioned off from the rest of the store by a counter decorated with old coffee sacks. Tuesday’s the main production day if you want to see it in action, but if you’re lucky, Jo has been known to roast any day of the week if he has an order on. The remaining seating is in the middle, with another two-person table, plus a larger, square, four-person table.
The left-hand wall is lined with shelves holding fresh fruit and vegetables, followed by a tall chiller cabinet for the dairy produce. Next, under the window, comes a set of shelves selling local-produced preserves, spreads and honey. Finally, at the back, on the left, there’s the broad counter of Elemental’s espresso bar, separated from the roastery by a flight of stairs leading down to the basement. This was closed when I visited (hence the lack of photos), but If all went to plan, it should now be open, offering additional seating.
The stairs are fronted by baskets of bread and pastries, all baked by Darius in a bakery in nearby Montpelier. However, there are plans to bring him on-site in due course, which would be awesome. You can buy cakes from the espresso bar to go with your coffee, while the bread from the bakery forms the basis of the simple toast menu for breakfast/lunch.
If you’re having an espresso-based drink, then Elemental is the first coffee shop I know that uses the Kaffeeform cup, which is made from recycled coffee grounds. However, I opted for the Rwanda single-origin on pour-over, served, as it should be, in a carafe with the cup on the side. It was a subtle gentle brew that held its own as it cooled. I lingered for a while and it was just as good cold as it was when hot.
|123 STOKES CROFT • BRISTOL • BS1 3RZ|
|Monday||08:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Triple Co Roast (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 18:00||Food||Toast, Cakes|
|Thursday||08:00 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 18:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Chain||No||Visits||10th November 2017|
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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