Canteen by Garage Coffee

The Garage Coffee logo from the cafe inside the Fruitworks Coworking space in Canterbury.Some cities never change. In others, change is almost constant, Canterbury being a good (for me, at least) example. Since my previous visit, 2½ years ago in May 2017, pretty much everything has changed. Of the places I visited, only the Micro Roastery is still going in the same place/format. Water Lane Coffee has gone, Lost Sheep has doubled in size and now roasts its own coffee, while today’s Coffee Spot, Garage Coffee, has left Fruitworks and taken over the Canteen, a few streets away, next to the Cathedral. Spread over three floors of a lovely, 500-year-old building, the contrast with the large, open spaces of Fruitworks couldn’t be starker.

The star of the show, of course, is the coffee, with a very similar offering despite the change of venue. All roasted in-house, there’s a blend, single-origin and decaf on espresso, while any of the single-origins and decaf are available through V60, Aeropress and Chemex, with a daily option on batch brew. The Canteen part of the operation is represented by a range of options, all baked/cooked on-site. This includes various flatbreads, salads, sourdough toasties and multiple things on toast. There’s also soup, jacket potatoes and a range of cakes.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Shining like a bright star on a cold, November evening, it's Canteen by Garage Coffee.
  • The smaller windows on the first and second floors both belong to Canteen.
  • The sign says it all really.
  • There's a solitary two-person table outside on the pavement, in front of the window...
  • ... while the door is inset on the right-hand side.
  • Insde, the counter is on the left, stairs on the right and kitchen at the back.
  • A view of the door from the inside...
  • ... with three square, two/three-person tables in the window to the left of the door.
  • This one in the corner looks particularly cosy.
  • The counter, where you order, is at the back on the left-hand side, while further seating...
  • ... is available upstairs, where there are two further floors.
  • The stairs double back on themselves, depositing you on a small landing at the back...
  • ... of the first floor, where you get this view through the door, looking to the right.
  • There are a pair of tables against an L-shaped bench along the back wall...
  • An alternate view of the tables at the back...
  • There's a cosy corner at the far end, next to the disused fireplace...
  • ... with another cosy corner on the other side of the fireplace, to the left of the window.
  • Meanwhile, taking pride of place in the window itself is this four-person table.
  • This gives a better view of the window.
  • Looking back to towards the door, here's another view of the table at the back.
  • Talking of the door, the stairs continue upwards...
  • ... doubling back on themselves to deposit you on a small landing at the back of the...
  • ... second floor, seen here through the open doorway. It's even cosier up here!
  • There's another table at the back, running along a bench against the back wall.
  • Opposite is another bench, this time against the front wall, with four two-person tables.
  • Finally, there's another two-person table against the exposed brick of the right-hand wall.
  • The view towards the back wall, where, visible through the door, are more stairs...
  • ... which lead to another floor, although this one is staff only.
  • Time to go back downstairs.
  • These are the stairs from the second floor leading down to the first floor...
  • ... and here's the stairs down to the ground floor and the front door.
  • One of the things you may have noticed is that the walls are lined with pictures.
  • These are by Barry Amos and are all for sale (click the pictures for details).
  • I was drawn to his landscapes, particularly those of the Southwest USA.
  • As well as his landscapes, he also does big cats (not shown here).
  • As well as pictures, there are lights. Lots of lights.
  • I was drawn to the ones in the wire mesh cages.
  • Last one, I promise.
  • To business. You order at the counter downstairs...
  • ... where you'll also find the retail shelves...
  • ... with the usual mix of coffee, all bagged up and ready to go...
  • ... plus coffee equipment and an excellent selection of reading material.
  • Opposite the retail shelves is a little bit about Garage Coffee and speciality coffee.
  • Returning to the counter, the coffee side of the operation is at the front...
  • ... with the menu boards high above the counter. The first three are for food...
  • ... with the concise coffee and other drinks menu on the right.
  • The heart of the operation is the two-group Sanremo Cafe Racer espresso machine...
  • ... with its two grinders, one for the house blend and one for the single-origin option...
  • ... which were the Maypole (blend) and Inza Smallholders (single-origin) during my visit.
  • Finally, batch brew filter and pour-over are off to the left-hand side of the counter.
  • I ordered a filter coffee, served in a carafe with a glass on the side.
  • My coffee in the glass.
  • I also had a slice of cake from the selection (like this one) on the counter-top.
  • I actually had the last slice of the single-origin coffee cake, so the sign was all that was...
  • ... left. Meanwhile, here's the final slice on my table.
  • I'll leave you with the whole ensemble, which was every bit as good as it looks!
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Garage Coffee has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 2015, roasting coffee in a shipping container in the nearby village of Hoath (the original plan was to roast in a garage, the name sticking, since Shipping Container Coffee doesn’t have the same ring to it). Two years later, in April 2017, Garage Coffee opened its first coffee operation inside the Fruitworks Coworking space, my visit coming the following month.

Next was a pop-up in Whitstable, superseded at the start of 2019 by a permanent coffee shop. Then, in the middle of October, Garage left the open spaces of Fruitworks to take over at the Canteen, with its on-site kitchen and bakehouse. In a rare fit of good timing, I turned up the next month to pay a visit.

Canteen by Garage Coffee is on the east side of the narrow Sun Street, right in the heart of medieval Canterbury, just north of the magnificent Cathedral Gate. The front is almost all glass, two large windows, surrounded by smaller panes, a solitary two-person table out front on the pavement. The door, meanwhile, is deeply inset on the right, leading you almost directly to the foot of the stairs to the first floor.

However, you will need to direct your attention to your left, where you’ll find the counter at the back on the left-hand side, directly opposite the stairs, while at the front are three square, two/three-person tables in the window. Order at the counter, then take a seat and your coffee/food will be brought to you.

There’s more seating upstairs, the stairs doubling back on themselves to leave you at a small landing at the back of both the first and second floors, which have the same simple, rectangular layout, the rooms twice as wide as they are deep. The door opens in right-hand corner of the back wall, with a single window in the front wall, which gets smaller on each successive floor. Finally, there’s a disused fireplace in the left-hand wall (the equivalent on the ground floor, just in front of the counter, is occupied by the retail shelves).

On the first floor, a pair of two-person tables line the right-hand wall, with another pair along an L-shaped, high-backed bench against the back wall. A four-person table has pride of place in front of the window, while there’s a cosy two-person table in the front, left-hand corner, another wooden bench-seat occupying a niche next to the fireplace.

On the top floor, there’s a solitary two-person table against the right-hand wall, with a four-person table in front of a high-backed bench against the back wall. Finally, four two-person tables line another high-backed bench which runs the width of the front wall.

Turning to the coffee, which is still roasted in Hoath, the Maypole blend (Mexico/Colombia) is ever-present on espresso, where it’s joined by a single-origin, the staff changing it as and when each bag runs out (which is usually every two or three days). During my visit, this was from the Inza Smallholders in Colombia. Finally, you have the choice of any of the single-origins on filter, but, being unable to decide, I asked my barista, Sasha, to surprise me, so she did.

Unfortunately, she left before I could find out what coffee/method she used, but I’ve since learnt that it was the Inza Smallholders (the same beans that were being used for single-origin espresso), prepared through the Aeropress. It was delightful, a full-bodied coffee full of complex flavours, served in a carafe with a glass on the side. I paired this with the equally excellent single-origin coffee cake, a light, moist sponge with a tasty buttercream filling and topping, the perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

17 SUN STREET • CANTERBURY • CT1 2HX
www.garageroasted.co.uk +44 (0) 1227 470011
Monday 08:00 – 17:00 Roaster Garage (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 17:00 Seating Tables
Wednesday 08:00 – 17:00 Food Sandwiches, Cakes
Thursday 08:00 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 17:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 Power Limited
Chain Local Visits 30th November 2019

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2 thoughts on “Canteen by Garage Coffee

  1. Pingback: Garage Coffee at Fruitworks | Brian's Coffee Spot

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