Tuesday seems to have become my “get on a train and visit some coffee shops” day. For the first two weeks I went to/in the direction of London, but this Tuesday I headed for Reading, where I found the town’s speciality coffee scene was already bouncing back. My first stop was Coffee Under Pressure, then it was around the other side of the Minster to pay a visit to Tamp Culture.
The last time I was there, in 2014, Tamp was operating from a Piaggio Ape trike (housing the espresso machine) with a counter that was painstakingly assembled each morning and then broken down again at the end of the day. Fortunately, by the time Bean There At visited in 2018, this had been upgraded to a very nifty kiosk with fold-up windows, which is what I found on my return.
Tamp reopened in mid-May, serving takeaway only, but since 4th July, when the COVID-19 rules were relaxed in England, it’s been able to put its tables back out on the broad pavement next to the kiosk. As a result, Tamp is almost back to normal, serving its full range of single-origin coffees (all roasted in-house) on espresso and filter.
You can see what else I found after the gallery.
Although it’s upgraded to a kiosk, Tamp Culture is still in the same location behind the Oracle shopping complex, at the junction of Gun and Minster Streets. The kiosk, which is twice as long as it is deep, is a little bigger than the original counter, but not by much. It has neat windows on the front and right-hand sides which fold up when Tamp is open, providing shelter from the elements when ordering. These days there are also yellow “please stand here” stickers on the pavement, showing you where to queue while keeping your distance.
There is Perspex on the counter along the front of the kiosk, with two small, narrow openings at the bottom, one on either side. You order at the right-hand one, where you’ll find the card reader and, unusually for COVID-19 times, you can also pay in cash, although you’ll need the correct change. You’ll also find the cake display here on the right, while the menu is to your left.
You then move over to collect your coffee from the second opening on the left, leaving the ordering area free for the next customer. Once you have your coffee, if you want to sit down, there’s a solitary two-person table immediately to the left of the kiosk, up against its left-hand wall, while there are four more tables to the right on the pavement of Gun/Minster Streets.
Tamp’s coffee offering is as impressive as ever, with a pair of single-origins on espresso. While I was there, the default option was the El Eden, a washed Colombian, with another washed coffee, the Enorga, this time from Papua New Guinea, in the second hopper. Details of both are conveniently displayed, along with tasting notes, to the left of the menu, stuck to the twin hoppers of the grinder. The espresso machine, a two-group Fracino lever machine, is off to the left, against the left-hand wall, so you can watch your coffee being made while you wait for it.
As well as the concise espresso menu, there are also multiple filter options, with a choice of batch-brew, AeroPress and V60 (single serving) and Chemex and Syphon (for two), although the Syphon is currently out of action. There’s a selection of single-origin beans available for the filter options, although you’ll have to ask the barista what’s on offer.
I decided to have a flat white, which was served in a disposable cup, one of the few differences forced on Tamp by COVID-19 (it used to offer proper cups on request). I transferred my coffee to my SoL Cup to drink, almost keeping the latte art intact as I poured it in (always a good sign that the milk is very well steamed). The El Eden was beautiful in milk, resulting in a really smooth, well-balanced flat white.
Tamp was quite busy while I was there, with the majority of customers wearing masks when ordering (the barista also had a mask on, covering nose and mouth at all times). When Tamp first reopened, the Oracle was still closed, so business was initially really slow, although I’ve been told that it has been steadily picking up week-on-week since then, which is a good sign. That said, Tamp is still operating reduced hours, open from 10:30 to 16:00 for now.
|THE ORACLE GUN/MINSTER STREET • READING • RG1 2AG|
|Monday||10:30 – 16:00||Roaster||Tamp Culture (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||10:30 – 16:00||Seating||Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||10:30 – 16:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||10:30 – 16:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||10:30 – 16:00||Payment||Cards + Cash (Exact Change)|
|Saturday||10:30 – 16:00||Wifi||No|
|Sunday||10:30 – 16:00||Power||No|
|Chain||No||Visits||Original: 19th December 2014
Update: 28th July 2020
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