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 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!
December 2019: 65mm Coffee was a runner-up for the 2019 Best Breakfast Award.
|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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