Chalk Coffee, which opened in August last year, might be a new name to Chester’s growing speciality coffee scene, but it has considerable pedigree, having been set up by Ed, who was one half of Jaunty Goat (the other half being his twin brother, Patrick). Like Jaunty Goat, Chalk is right in the heart of historic Chester, just around the corner, in fact, on Watergate Street, which also puts it just across the street from another Chester veteran, The Barista’s and newcomer, Panna. The shop itself is lovely, stretching a long way back under the rows above, giving it a basement-like feel, especially at the back.
Chalk Coffee’s focus is firmly on the coffee, offering Origin on both espresso, through a Victoria Arduino Black Eagle, and on batch brew. It started by offering the Pathfinder blend, but since the start of this year, Chalk has been experimenting with single-origins as well as blends. The Resolute blend was on during my visit, with a Colombian single-origin next in the rotation, Chalk switching over as and when the current coffee runs out. There’s also a single-origin on batch brew. If you’re hungry, there’s a range of sandwiches and wraps, plus there’s a selection of cake.
July 2020: Chalk Coffee has reopened following the COVID-19 shutdown over the summer. It’s also changed its house espresso to Colonna Coffee while adding a second espresso from a rotating guest roaster. You can see what I made of it when I visited in October.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Chalk Coffee occupies a standard street-level unit underneath one of Chester’s famous Rows. The Rows, which are unique to Chester, are continuous, half-timbered galleries, forming a row of shops above those at street level. Accessible at regular intervals by steps up from the street, some date back as far as the 13th century, although I have no idea of the age of those on the north side of Watergate Street, the home of Chalk Coffee.
A pair of long, low windows runs the width of Chalk, each with a pair of round, two-person tables out front on the pavement. In the middle, between the two windows, a wide, recessed door leads down a couple of steps to the basement-like interior. Due to its south-facing aspect, Chalk catches the sun, making the outside tables very popular during my visit one sunny day in May.
Stepping inside, the look and feel immediately reminded me of Jaunty Goat. The very front of Chalk catches the sun, with the remainder in gloriously-contrasting shade. There’s a three-person window-bar to either side of the door with a recessed, padded sofa-bench with a pair of tables to the right. Following this is a set of shelves on the bare, plastered wall, lined with retail bags of coffee, then there’s a second, recessed padded sofa-bench with three round tables.
On the left is the large, uncluttered counter, with a couple of stools at the front on the left. The cakes and sandwiches are to the fore in a large glass display case on the corner, followed by the till and the Black Eagle espresso machine down the side of the counter.
At this point, Chalk Coffee narrows slightly and takes on a different character. Forward of this, the ceiling is flat and low, although the two old wooden ceiling beams and exposed brick and stone of some of the walls hint at the age of the building. At the back, however, you’re left in no doubt that you are in an old building. The rear portion of Chalk is defined by the low, shallow, vaulted ceiling of exposed brick which arches across the width of Chalk. To the right, the supporting wall (about 1½ metres high) is of old, dressed stone, while to the left, it’s a contrasting white plaster.
There’s plenty of seating back here, with four picnic-style tables with benches on the left, while on the right a pair of tall four-person tables line a high, padded sofa bench. Beyond that, there’s another, longer, recessed padded sofa-bench, with a further three round tables, more widely spaced than their counterparts at the front. It’s cool (in all senses of the word), quiet and relaxed back here, a lovely contrast to the front.
I was there for lunch, ordering a spicy halloumi and hummus wrap and a cortado. In hindsight, the wrap might have been a mistake, although it was excellent. Served toasted, which melted the halloumi nicely, it really was quite spicy, which rather overwhelmed my taste buds. Fortunately I know Origin’s Resolute blend quite well and, once my taste buds had recovered, the cortado had cooled somewhat, the coffee and milk settling down together to form a smooth, sweet drink.
Thanks, by the way, to Ed, for reminding me to visit Obscure Coffee.
|24 WATERGATE STREET • CHESTER • CH1 2LA|
|www.chalkcoffee.co.uk||+44 (0) 1244 343345|
|Monday||08:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Colonna + Guests (espresso + batch brew)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Window Bars; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 18:00||Food||Sandwiches, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 18:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with login)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 18:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||Original: 14th May 2019
Update: 2nd October 2020
Liked this? Then take a look at the rest of Chester’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Chester.
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