65mm Coffee

Details from the A-board outside 65mm Coffee in Tonbridge.I visited Tonbridge in July for Out of the Box, taking the chance to pop into 65mm Coffee. However, that was 65mm’s last day in the Old Fire Station, where it had started as a three-month pop-up in 2017, before becoming a permanent fixture. Sadly, the Old Fire Station’s management was taking all catering in-house, hence the move, with 65mm shifting to Gilbert House. After a swift refit, 65mm re-opened in its new home at the end of the July, although I wasn’t able to visit until the end of September.

65mm’s new home has an amazing location, directly opposite the castle, which you can see from the front windows. Although much smaller than the Old Fire Station, the new location is a lovely, cosy spot. When it comes to coffee, the house espresso is, as always, a washed Colombian Caturra de Altura from the local Cast Iron Roasters. This is joined by a guest espresso and a filter option through the Kalita Wave. These change roughly every month and, during my visit, were both from Belfast’s White Star Coffee. There’s also loose-leaf tea, small brunch and lunch menus (with everything cooked on-site) and a range of cakes and pastries.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • 65mm Coffee's new home, seen from the castle on its last day as Beyond the Grounds.
  • The view of 65mm Coffee, as seen approaching from the High Street along the River Walk.
  • And the view from the other side, looking back towards the High Street.
  • It's an interesting building, which looks very old, but with very modern additions.
  • There are bay windows to the left and right, with a small glass extension between them.
  • The entrance is via the door in the right hand bay window (not the door in the extension).
  • There's also a pair of tables on the pavement outside.
  • The A-board keeps things simple...
  • ... while this one keeps things factual.
  • The view from just inside the door, with 65mm Coffee off to the left.
  • There's just a single, two-person table here, with the rest of the seating at the front.
  • A view of the table, looking back towards the door. The stairs lead to offices upstairs.
  • The counter, meanwhile, is in the corner at the back on the left.
  • A view of the seating, seen from just in front of the counter.
  • There's another two-person table in the middle of the space, with a four-person table...
  • ... in the glass extension, seen here looking from side on.
  • There's a high-backed padded bench along the left-hand wall...
  • ... which runs all the way to the front of the bay window.
  • There's another two-person table against the wall on the left...
  • ... and a five-person window-bar right at the front.
  • Talking of windows, here's the view of Tonbridge Castle, which is just across the river.
  • Despite all the windows, 65mm Coffee has plenty of lights, including this set by the door...
  • ... and these three hanging above the long bench along the left-hand wall.
  • There are more light bulbs hanging in the bay window at the front.
  • Last one, I promise.
  • There's also some greenery...
  • ... and some retail shelves. These are on the back wall to the right of the counter...
  • .... where you'll find bags of the house espresso, from Cast Iron...
  • ... along with the current guest beans, which in this case are both from White Star.
  • There's another shelf, dedicated to coffee-making equipment, in the bay window.
  • To business. You order at the counter...
  • ... where you'll find the drinks menu on the wall behind the counter...
  • ... and the selection of beans on the wall to the left.
  • The espresso side of the operation, with its La Marzocco Linea, is on the left...
  • ... while pour-over coffee (and tea) is against the back wall.
  • The cakes, meanwhile, are displayed to the right of the counter (with the kitchen behind).
  • Talking of which, there are concise brunch and lunch menus.
  • A lovely guest espresso (a Peruvian single-origin) from Colonna Coffee, from my visit...
  • ... in July. It was a gorgeous espresso (and served in a lovely cup).
  • On my return at the end of September, I had a flat white with the house espresso.
  • Nice latte art.
  • I followed that up with the filter coffee, served in a carafe with a cup on the side...
  • ... all presented on a wooden tray.
  • The view from above.
  • Finally, I'll leave you with my lunch, grilled cheese & smoky beans, poached egg on top.
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65mm Coffee is in Gilbert House, having taken over the lease from previous occupants, Beyond the Grounds. It occupies an excellent spot, just to the west of the town bridge, on the southern bank of the River Medway. Directly opposite the castle, there are some lovely views from the windows at the front and even better ones from the three two-person tables on the far side of the wide, pedestrianised river walk. There are also a pair of three-person tables directly in front of 65mm.

65mm is on the ground floor of the two-storey building, which dates from 1924. It’s an interesting structure, with a pair of shallow bay windows flanking a small modern, single-storey glass extension, which was installed in 2015. The left-hand side, by the way, extends considerably further forward than the one on the right.

You enter via a door in the middle of the right-hand bay window. Directly ahead of you, stairs ascend to offices above, while 65mm occupies an L-shaped space to the left, the counter in the back, left-hand corner, kitchen to one side. There’s a solitary two-person table to the left of the door and a set of retail shelves against the back wall, but otherwise there’s a clear run to the counter. The glass extension houses a four-person table, with another two-person table next to that, and a third around the corner in the left-hand bay. Finally, a long, high-backed bench seat runs the length of the left-hand wall, lined with five two-person tables, while the bay window itself has a five-person window-bar and excellent views of the castle.

When I visited 65mm in the Old Fire Station in July, I had the guest espresso, a lovely, fruity, complex single-origin Peruvian from Colonna Coffee. On my return, I started with an excellent flat white using the house espresso, another lovely, fruity coffee, which went perfectly with the milk. I followed this up with the filter coffee, a washed Ethiopian Gute Sudo, served in a carafe with a cup on the side, all presented on a tray.

It was an interesting coffee, full-bodied, with a tea-like quality to it (the tasting notes said Jasmin, but I’m not sure I’d recognise Jasmin if I tripped over it). Sadly, three coffees in a row would have been overkill, but I would have also loved to have tried the guest espresso, a naturally-processed Rwandan Rugalo.

65mm has small but excellent brunch and lunch menus, served until three o’clock each afternoon. Normally this sort of statement is followed by an explanation of how I arrived at ten past three and missed out, but in this instance, I got my act together, reaching 65mm at half past two. My reward was the grilled cheese and smoky beans on sourdough toast, topped with a poached egg, a delightful combination, the smoky beans (65mm’s take on the humble baked bean) proving particularly satisfying.

Just before I left, the owner, Dave, came in, so I was able to catch up on 65mm’s plans, which include an alcohol licence, evening opening, more outdoor seating and a possible refit of the glass extension to provide more seating. I’d say watch this space, but I’m not sure when I when I’ll next be in Tonbridge, so I recommend popping along to find out for yourself!

GILBERT HOUSE • RIVER WALK • TONBRIDGE • TN9 1DT
www.facebook.com/65mmCoffee +44 (0)7878 897871
Monday 07:30 – 17:00 Roaster Cast Iron + Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Window-bar, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:30 – 17:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 17:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:30 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:30 – 16:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 13th July, 29th September 2019

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