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.
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Next was a pop-up in Whitstable, superseded at the start of 2019 by a permanent coffee shop.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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