Bean & Cole

A lovely flat white, made with the Jailbreak blend from Has Bean, served in a classic cup at Bean & Cole in Chester.Chester’s Bean & Cole has been on my radar since it opened in June 2018, but circumstances have always conspired against me. Until now, that is. Occupying a fairly small ground floor shop in a lovely old building on the semi-pedestrianised Frodsham Street, Bean & Cole is part of Chester’s growing speciality coffee scene, which has seen a flurry of openings in the last couple of years.

Bean & Cole serves Has Bean, with the ubiquitous Jailbreak Blend on espresso, where it’s joined by a guest. There are several filter options, including an Aeropress or V60 for one and a Chemex for two. The guest espresso and filter options are drawn from a wide variety of roasters and change every few weeks. There’s also a small selection of loose-leaf tea, a concise brunch menu with the likes of granola and various things on toast, plus a small range of cakes.

June 2020: Bean & Cole now uses Assembly for its main espresso, rather than Has Bean.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Standing on the corner of Frodsham Street, almost in the shadow of Chester city walls...
  • ... on the ground floor of an old, two-storey building, it's Bean & Cole.
  • Nice window art!
  • It has a simple facade, central double doors flanked by windows, seen here from inside.
  • There is seating on either side, starting with a bench against the right-hand wall...
  • ... while on the opposite side, there's an eight-person communal table.
  • The front part of the seating, as seen from half way back.
  • Turning around, here's the rest of Bean & Cole.
  • The counter is on the right-hand side, starting at the end of the bench seat.
  • It's a thing of beauty, with a tiled body and a wooden top.
  • Keeping with the long-and-thin policy, the counter goes a long way back.
  • Opposite this is a water station, with retail shelves above, and more seating behind.
  • In all, there are three, tall, narrow, four-person tables along the left-hand wall.
  • The three tables, seen from the back.
  • The retail shelves contain the usual mix of coffee equipment and retail bags of coffee.
  • Some more interesting features: this magazine rack and plants are at the front...
  • ... while this poster, a diagram of a bicycle, is at the back.
  • In case you have forgotten where you are!
  • As you may have noticed by now, there are plenty of bare light bulbs.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot. As well as the usual exposed light bulbs...
  • ... these interesting glass shades hang above the communal table.
  • Meanwhile, these lights hang over the counter.
  • Talking of which, the short side of the counter faces the windows...
  • ... with the specials menu on a paper roll on the wall to the right of the counter...
  • ... and the main menu on the wall to the right behind the counter.
  • Meanwhile, you order at the front of the counter on the left. Here, in fact.
  • As well as the food menu and the specials, there's a selection of cakes in the case at...
  • ... the right-hand end of the counter. While I was there, there was also this gorgeous...
  • ... vegan chocolate, cardamom, pistachio and flower cake.
  • The heart of the Bean & Cole operation: a Victoria Arduino White Eagle espresso machine...
  • ... which you can get a really good view of if you stand to the right of the till.
  • Beyond this, at the back of the counter, is the pour-over station, including its own...
  • ... EK43 grinder, which also acts of a roll of honour for past guest roasters.
  • Talking of which, there are more roasters, past & present, on the wall behind the counter.
  • I started with a flat white, made with Has Bean's Jailbreak blend.
  • Lovely latte art, by the way.
  • I had this with my lunch, the homemade hummus toast from the specials menu.
  • I followed this with a shot of the guest espresso, a naturally-processed Finca Licho...
  • ... from Costa Rica, which is where I'll leave you.
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Bean & Cole is on Frodsham Street, a few minutes’ walk from the new bus station as you head towards the town centre. Until I visited, I hadn’t fully appreciated just how close it is to the bus station, but that said, my mental map of Chester was largely fixed during visits as a child over 40 years ago. Since then, much (including the location of the bus station!) has changed.

Bean & Cole has a simple façade, with a central glass door flanked by two tall windows, making the front almost entirely glass. Inside, it’s around three times as long as it is wide, and almost as tall. The counter occupies the back right-hand corner, matching the long-and-thin theme. The shorter side faces forwards, holding the cakes and till, while the twin Mythos One grinders and two-group Victoria Arduino White Eagle espresso machine (confusingly in black) are on the long side, followed by the pour-over station, complete with its own EK43 grinder.

The seating is arranged in the remaining L-shaped space. There’s a solitary eight-person communal table on the left, while on the right, a bench runs along the wall between counter and window with four square, two-person tables. The final seating is at the back on the left, opposite the counter, where you’ll find three high, four-person tables perpendicular to the wall.

The décor holds no great surprises, but is beautifully done, with exposed brick walls to the right and back, while the left-hand wall is plastered. Wooden floorboards go with the wooden furniture, the look completed by bare light bulbs and industrial light fittings above the counter.

I was there for lunch, my eye initially drawn to the avocado on toast. However, the barista drew my attention to the specials menu, with its homemade hummus toast, and my decision was made. This was excellent, a generous spread of hummus on a single, large slice of granary toast. I paired this with a flat white, Has Bean’s Jailbreak blend, like the décor, holding no surprises, and going extremely well with the milk.

The guest espresso, a naturally-processed Finca Licho from Costa Rica, was also from Has Bean, although this is a rarity (for example, the next guest in the rotation was from Belfast’s Bailies Coffee Roasters). In the early days of the Coffee Spot, I was a little wary of Has Bean, with its sometimes funky flavours, but I’ve long since lost my fear, so I tried the guest as a straight espresso. This was simply gorgeous, a rich, syrupy mouthfeel, giving way to a well-rounded, well-balanced, complex espresso. I was never going to get the tasting notes of cherry liquor, lycee and sultana, but I loved it nonetheless.

June 2020: Bean & Cole reopened for takeaway service, with seating following in July. You can see what I made of it when I visited at the start of August. The other change of note is that Assembly is now gracing the main hopper, with regular guests in the second grinder.

September 2021: Check out the latest (joint) venture from Bean & Cole, the Kookaburra Bakehouse, a neat little coffee shop with a wholesale bakery upstairs where Jess (who bakes all Bean & Cole’s cakes) works her magic.

November 2022: Bean & Cole has opened a second location, inside the new Chester Market. You can see what I made of it when I visited in June.

41 FRODSHAM STREET • CHESTER • CH1 3JJ +44 (0) 1244 639060
Monday 08:30 – 17:00 Roaster Assembly + Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:30 – 17:00 Seating Tables
Wednesday 08:30 – 17:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 08:30 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:30 – 17:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 25th July 2019, 7th August 2020

If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, then take a look at the rest of Chester’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Chester.

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