Coffee Curiosity

Details from the coffee menu at Canterbury's Coffee Curiosity.Although I love Canterbury, its narrow, winding medieval streets can get very crowded, so much so that sometimes I need to break from all the people, which makes today’s Coffee Spot, Coffee Curiosity, even more of a find. Recommended by practically everyone, but in particular Sally Gurteen, Mike Stanbridge and Dan from Lost Sheep Coffee, it’s a five-minute walk west of the city centre, an oasis of calm in the Tannery Square development.

Coffee Curiosity was opened in January 2018 by Chase, a barista I first met in G!RO Cycles almost four years ago to the day of my visit, catching up with him 18 months later during my previous visit to Canterbury, when he worked at Garage Coffee in its days at Fruitworks. Impressively, he recognised me the instant I walked through the door!

Coffee Curiosity is a reverse TARDIS, the interior far smaller than it looks. There’s an espresso blend from Coldblow, a local roaster from Tenterden, plus regular guests on filter, with a Kenyan single-origin from Cambridge’s The Brew Project during my visit. There’s also tea from local suppliers, Debonair Tea Company, a small selection of panini and a range of cakes, all baked by Chase’s father-in-law.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Tannery Wharf, on the southern side of Tannery Square in Canterbury.
  • There's a lovely tree off to the right...
  • ... beyond which, in the far corner, you'll find Coffee Curiosity.
  • There's an approach from the south, where a footbridge crosses the Great Stour.
  • Here's a view from the bridge across the river.
  • Back to Coffee Curiosity, where there's a cluster of tables outside in the square.
  • The A-board is always interesting, with a different message every few days.
  • Beyond the A-board, you'll find the door to Coffee Curiosity...
  • ... which leads to a space not much wider than the door itself!
  • The bulk of the seating is upstairs on the mezzanine level, so let's start there.
  • Access is via the stairs on the right.
  • The view from the top.
  • There's a single, two-person at the top of the stairs against the right-hand wall.
  • There's another table to the left, right at the front of the mezzanine.
  • The table at the front of the mezzanine level.
  • There's more seating at the back, starting with this armchair against the left-hand wall...
  • ... opposite which is this comfortable sofa.
  • There's a solitary, square window in the back wall on the right-hand side...
  • ... with a two-person bar tucked away in the corner.
  • A closer view of the bar in the corner: not the most practical seating option!
  • A view from the sofa at the back...
  • ... with the high ceilings soaring above the yellow armchair.
  • Another view from the back of the mezzanine.
  • The window above the stairs adds to the light from the window at the back.
  • There's also plenty of borrowed light from downstairs.
  • Time to go back down to the counter.
  • A view from halfway down the stairs, where there's another bar against the left-hand wall.
  • A narrow corridor leads past the stairs to the counter at the back.
  • It's a compact affair, with the cakes displayed on the front of the counter...
  • ... and more options tucked under the stairs.
  • There's tea from the local Debonair Tea Company in the nearby Hythe...
  • ... but I was more interested in the coffee, with the two-group La Marzocco at the back...
  • ... with the grinders and the batch-brewer off to the right.
  • The coffee is from local roasters Coldblow (house blend + decaf) and a guest on filter.
  • The menu, meanwhile is off to the left...
  • ... with the coffee on top and the panini and wrap menu at the bottom.
  • The coffee in more detail...
  • ... along with the food.
  • Despite all the windows, Coffee Curiosity has plenty of light fittings...
  • ... including lots of these exposed bulbs like this one.
  • Last shot (of the light bulbs).
  • Back upstairs, and I was fascinated by this lampshade, although I did wonder...
  • ... if I was seeing double!
  • The mirror at the back of the mezzanine really gave it a sense of space.
  • It's also very green upstairs...
  • ... although pride of place goes to these four coffee plants!
  • There are also some pictures on the walls, all of which are available for sale (as prints).
  • To business. I was there for lunch, ordering The Italian...
  • ... which I paired with a V60 of the guest, a single-origin Kenyan from The Brew Project...
  • ... served in a carafe on a small wooden tray, with a glass on the side.
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Coffee Curiosity is in Tannery Wharf, a row of low, two-storey buildings which backs onto the Great Stour on the southern side of Tannery Square, part of a modern housing development tucked into the western end of Canterbury’s medieval city centre. During my visit, there were four two-person tables arranged in a square outside in the broad, courtyard-like space that is Tannery Square, although in the summer there are double the number.

There’s a single glass door in the row of buildings behind the tables which opens into a long, thin, wedge-shaped space which slowly widens as you go back, which is just as well since it’s barely wider than the door at the front! A flight of stairs on the right leads to a cosy mezzanine, while on the left, a narrow corridor leads to the counter, tucked under the mezzanine, with an enclosed kitchen at the back. You’ll need to order here (although you can pay when you leave) before heading upstairs or outside to find a seat. Alternative, there are a couple of stools down here, where you can sit and chat with Chase.

The cosy mezzanine level occupies the back-end of the wedge above the counter and kitchen. There’s a two-person table to the left at the top of stairs, which overlooks the door, while directly ahead is another two-person table against the right-hand wall, beyond which is a two-person bar, followed by a large window in the back wall. Finally, there’s a sofa to the left of the window, with a long, thin coffee table and sumptuous armchair opposite.

Overall, it’s a cosy spot, a large mirror on the back wall above the sofa giving it a sense of space. It’s also quite bright, with borrowed light from downstairs, while the window at the back is joined by another high up on the front wall above the stairs. The entire place was kitted out by Chase, who built everything, including the counter (the only exception, I think, are the stairs), while he also laid down the wooden laminate flooring. The overall look and feel is rounded off by plenty of plants, while laptop users are welcomed by fast Wifi and numerous power outlets, with at least one per seat.

Turning to the coffee, the house-espresso is from Coldblow, a Kent-based roaster which started not long before Coffee Curiosity, where it’s joined on the two-group La Marzocco Linea by a decaf (currently a Peruvian single-origin, also from Coldblow). Chase has plans to add another grinder so that he can offer a guest single-origin espresso, but in the meantime, the guest roaster is limited to filter, where there’s a single option which changes every two to four weeks, depending on how quickly Chase gets through a batch. The filter is available as batch brew and through the V60 or Aeropress, although Chase has a preferred method for each specific guest.

I was there for lunch, selecting the Italian, a pesto, sundried tomato and mozzarella panini, which I paired with a V60 of the Kenyan Karumandi AB from The Brew Project. Served in a carafe with a glass on the side, this was a lovely, fruity, delicate pour-over, while my panini was wonderfully crunchy, although perhaps the highlight was the half hour I spent chatting with Chase afterwards!

5 TANNERY WHARF • TANNERY SQUARE • CANTERBURY • CT1 2FN
www.coffeecuriosity.com +44 (0) 1227 634044
Monday 08:00 – 17:00 Roaster Coldblow (espresso) + Guest (filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 17:00 Seating Stools; Tables, Sofa, Bar (upstairs); Tables (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 17:00 Food Sandwiches
Thursday 08:00 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 17:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 30th November 2019

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