Ue Coffee Roasters at The Old Smithy

My flat white, made with the guest coffee, a washed El Salvador, and served at The Smithy, one of two Ue Coffee Roasters shops in Witney. I've drunk half of my flat white, which reveals Ue Coffee Roasters written on the inside rim of the cup.I first went to Witney 2014 to visit Ue Coffee Roasters, out on the Windrush Industrial Park, a couple of miles west of the town. Since then, Ue Coffee has opened a pair of coffee shops, which I discovered when I returned in 2017. The first was the Ue Coffee Roasters True Artisan Café & Store, which opened on the High Street in 2016. The second followed the next year, located in The Old Smithy on Market Square, at the other (southern) end of the High Street. However, it wasn’t until this week that I had a chance to return to Witney to check it out, a mere 2½ years later…

The Old Smithy is a lovely old building (I couldn’t find out exactly how old, but I suspect several hundred years), with Ue Coffee occupying a single, ground floor room plus two more upstairs, the second one over the neighbouring opticians. It offers an espresso-based menu, with Ue’s house-blend joined by its decaf and a monthly guest. Alternatively, there’s a range of loose-leaf tea from sister company Jeeves & Jericho, with a range of cakes and a small selection of savoury items (sausage rolls and muffins) if you’re hungry.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The Market Square, Witney, home of (on the right) the Old Smithy and Ue Coffee Roasters.
  • The view approaching from the south, where you can see the bench in front of the window.
  • We visited the week after Valentine's but appreciated the sentiment!
  • Stepping inside, the counter is at the back of the room, with stairs to the right.
  • If you are looking to sit downstairs, there is seating at the left-hand end...
  • ... where you'll find this three-person, L-shaped bar.
  • Finally, there's a bench in the window at the front.
  • The view out of the window.
  • If you're sitting upstairs, order at the counter (till at the far end) before heading on up.
  • Let's go! Mind your head!
  • The stairs turn by 90° at the top as they meet the back wall.
  • The stairs deposit you in the back right-hand corner of the first of two upstairs rooms.
  • The room is directly above the downstairs room with seating along both walls.
  • There are two pairs of armchairs, each with a small coffee table, against the left-hand wall.
  • On the other side, beyond the stairs, is a wooden bench with two small, square tables.
  • Another view of the front of the room.
  • The view out of the window. Check out the windowsill which is used as a bookshelf.
  • The last of the armchairs doesn't quite fit in the corner, so is at 90° to the others.
  • The other three armchairs run along the left-hand wall. But what's that beyond them?
  • More seating!
  • And here it is! A second room with more tables. There are two against the party wall...
  • ... and three against the far wall. These are the two at the back (seen from the front)...
  • ... and here's the middle one again, along with the one at the front.
  • The final table is tucked in by the window at the front.
  • The view out of the window in the second room.
  • Finally, here's the room as seen from the window.
  • There are lots of neat features upstairs, where there are viintage movie posters on the...
  • ... walls in both rooms. Here's Singin' in the Rain...
  • ... and my personal favourite, Casablanca.
  • There's also this water station by the stairs.
  • Talking of which, I love the fact that you can see the espresso machine from the stairs.
  • Let's go back down, shall we?
  • You have to mind your head on the way down too!
  • One of the neat touches downstairs is this catcus in the corner.
  • And there there's the obligatory lighting shot.
  • This gives you a slightly better view of the bulb.
  • I was also keen on these lamps which hang from the ceiling...
  • ... while there's a traditional exposed bulb in the downstairs window.
  • You order at the counter's left-hand end, where the menu's on the wall to the left.
  • You then collect your food and drinks at the other end...
  • ... which is where you'll find the La Marzocco Linea espresso machine.
  • Talking of which, Ue is very keen on its decaf, which is good to see...
  • ... while there's a monthly guest coffee (also from Ue), with details on the back wall.
  • Of course, it's not just coffee, with a range of loose-leaf teas from Jeeves & Jericho.
  • If you're hungry, there's a good selection of cakes...
  • ... as well as some savouries, such as these onion marmelade sausage rolls...
  • ... and this solitary cheese and chive courgette muffin.
  • And, indeed, that's exactly what Amanda and I had. Here's the full ensemble.
  • This was mine: the cheese and chive courgette muffin, with chilli jam on the side.
  • We both had flat whites. This was Amanda's...
  • ... made with the Ue house-blend...
  • ... while I had the guest coffee, a washed El Salvador single-origin.
  • I'm not sure who had the best latte art. Both were pretty good!
  • I've always liked Ue's use of the rim of the cup. Very clever! I'll leave you with...
  • ... a final shot of my latte art, which lasted all the way to the bottom of the cup.
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For somewhere comparatively small, Witney boasts four speciality coffee shops, the two Ue locations joined by speciality pioneers, Coffeesmith, and Kiwis, Eden Café. Indeed, if you count the (relatively) new cafe at the Ue Roastery, it has five!

Today’s Coffee Spot, Ue Coffee Roasters at The Old Smithy, is on Market Square, at the southern end of the High Street. The Old Smithy is in a small block of buildings at the Square’s northern end, facing west onto the main street. Initially, it doesn’t look like much, just a single window at the front to the left of the door, underneath which a solitary bench provides the only outdoor seating.

Stepping inside, you’re greeted by the counter at the back, and a small expanse of stone-flagged floor. A broad bench is built into the window to your left, while an L-shaped three-person bar starts next to the window and runs down the left-hand wall. This, I was a told, is a new addition for this year, replacing a large set of retail shelves. Behind the counter, a smaller window in the back wall looks out onto the other side of Market Square.

Although it looks small, appearances can be deception, with a flight of stairs to the right of counter leading to the first of two upstairs rooms. Directly above the downstairs room, this too has a small window at the back and a larger one at the front. The open staircase occupies the back, right-hand corner with the seating down either wall: two small, square tables line a bench against the right-hand wall (as seen from the front) with two pairs of armchairs, each with a coffee table between them, against the left-hand wall. The last of these armchairs doesn’t quite fit into the corner, so is at 90° to the others, its back to the window.

Continuing straight along the back wall, a narrow corridor through the party wall leads into the second room, which is above the opticians. This is a similar size, with two small, square tables along a bench against the party wall, while on the other side are three similar tables. Each table (in both rooms) seats two or three people, depending on the configuration.

You order at the counter, and, while you have to collect your coffee/tea/food, the staff call when its ready, which reduces the amount of hanging around by the counter. As much as I dislike counter service, this seems to work quite well.

In comparison to the True Artisan Café & Store (a five-minute walk away), the coffee offering is limited (if you want pour-over, for example, and Ue’s full range of single-origins, head to the True Artisan Café). However, it’s still pretty impressive, with the house-blend and decaf joined by a monthly guest coffee (also from Ue). This was a washed El Salvador single-origin during our visit and I went for that in a flat white, while Amanda had the house-blend so we could compare the two.

The barista said that the El Salvador was the bolder of the two, and so it turned out. Both were smooth, the coffees going well with the milk, but the El Salvador came through more strongly (before I saw the single-origin, I was going to have the house-blend in a piccolo).

We paired these with an onion marmalade sausage roll (Amanda) and a cheese and chive courgette muffin (me), with chilli jam on the side. My muffin was excellent: served warm, it was rich and moist, the chilli jam complimenting it while giving it a little kick, but without being too hot.

December 2020: Ue Coffee Roasters at The Old Smithy has won the 2020 Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.

https://uecoffeeroasters.com +44 (0) 1993 771715
Monday 08:30 – 16:30 Roaster Ue Coffee (espresso only)
Tuesday 08:30 – 16:30 Seating Window Bar, Bench; Comfy Chairs; Tables
Wednesday 08:30 – 16:30 Food Cakes, Sausage Rolls
Thursday 08:30 – 16:30 Service Counter
Friday 08:30 – 16:30 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:30 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 15:30 Power Limited
Chain Local Visits 18th February 2020

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6 thoughts on “Ue Coffee Roasters at The Old Smithy

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