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.
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!
December 2019: Coffee Curiosity has won the 2019 Most Passionate About Coffee Award.
|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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