Moss Coffee (COVID-19 Update)

A flat white, made with the Arboretum Blend from Dark Woods and served in my HuskeeCup at Moss Coffee, Chester, one of the few times I've been able to use my own cup during COVID-19.Although I don’t visit Chester that often, Moss Coffee, conveniently located between the bus and railway stations, has become a handy calling point when I’m in the city and in need of coffee before I catch my train. Like everyone else, Moss closed in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, before reopening to provide a takeaway-only service, a decision largely dictated by the size/shape of the shop. Naturally, when I visited Chester on Friday, Moss Coffee was high on my list, and I was delighted to be able to call in, catching up with the owner, Daniel, over a flat white.

Other than Daniel wearing a mask, the only obvious change is the absence of seating. The stools are no longer at either the counter or the bar at the back, while the table in the window is similarly gone. Other than that, Moss looks (and is) remarkably similar, with Dark Woods still gracing the espresso machine, although since my last visit, Daniel has added batch brew to the menu, using the Sage Precision automated brewer. More good news, while Daniel only serves takeaway, Moss Coffee is one of the few places that is currently accepting customers’ own reusable cups.

You can see what else I found out after the gallery.

  • Moss Coffee, looking very familiar on Brooke Street in Chester.
  • I've always loved that deeply-recessed door on the right, with the lettered tiling.
  • However, the writing on the wall to the right of the door is new since I was last here.
  • It's worth a second look.
  • Something else is new (as a result of COVID-19): Moss Coffee is takeaway only for now.
  • Inside, the counter looks very familar, and there's the owner, Daniel, sporting a mask.
  • However, the seating is gone. There are no stools at the bar at the back...
  • ... which you can see here in this picture from my visit in 2018.
  • Similarly, the coffee table in the window has gone...
  • ... which is a shame, since it was a very fine coffee table (as you can see here in 2018).
  • The lighting, as ever, fascinated me.
  • These beauties hang above the counter...
  • ... and here they are in more detail.
  • Meanwhile, these open lattice lamp shades throw some wonderful shadows on the wall.
  • Last one, I promise.
  • I liked the addition of the plants in the corner.
  • Anyway, down to business. You order at the right-hand side of the counter...
  • ... where you'll find the menu on the wall at the back...
  • ... looking remarkably similar to how it did two years ago.
  • The back of the counter, with the La Marzocco espresso machine, also looks very familar...
  • ... although there's a new addition between it and the grinder: Moss now does batch brew!
  • I, however, had come for a flat white, and was delighted when my HuskeeCup was...
  • ... accepted. At last, I don't have to destroy the latte art. And very pretty it is too!
  • Another change is on the retail shelves opposite the counter. The Dark Woods bags are...
  • ... there as usual, but now they've been joined by a selection of European roasters.
  • I was struck by Manhattan Coffee Roasters and bought this Geisha to take home with me.
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For those that don’t know it, Moss Coffee is on Brooke Street, occupying small spot with a traditional shop front on your left as you head for the railway station. There’s a large picture window on the left, while the first sign of change comes as you approach the recessed door recessed on the right, where you’ll find an A-board with the clear message “Take outs only”.

Inside, the layout is simple, with the beautiful counter, built of reclaimed wood, at the back on the left, while the gorgeous exposed light bulbs are still very much in evidence. With the removal of the seating, there’s a large, open space between the counter and window, which provides somewhere to wait if it’s busy, but otherwise, head up to the right-hand side of counter, where you order.

I decided to keep things simple with a flat white, made using Dark Woods’ Arboretum Blend. This goes superbly with milk to produce a smooth, sweet flat white. I was even more delighted when Daniel happily accepted my HuskeeCup. Normally, I’d have chatted while drinking my coffee, but it’s hard to drink coffee with a mask on and it would have been rude to take it off in the shop, so I left my coffee standing on the counter while we talked. In testament to Daniel’s barista skills, the latte art was still perfect when I left 10 minutes later, and the coffee was just as awesome.

Daniel told me about the addition of batch brew to the menu, while admitting that his other expansion plans, including opening the upstairs of the shop, were on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. He had considered reopening the downstairs seating at the start of July, but, as a solo operator, the additional overheads hardly seemed worth it for the benefit of one or, at most, two sit-in customers at a time.

Another change, perhaps less obvious to the casual observer, is found on the retail shelves opposite the counter. These days the bags from Dark Woods have been joined by stock from several European roasters. So, while Dark Woods had the Arboretum Blend and a couple of single-origins, I also spotted the well-known Italian roaster, Gardelli, plus the less well known Manhattan Coffee Roasters, from Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Having not come across Manhattan before, I was immediately drawn to its bags, where I saw two washed Geishas, the Silvio Gomez from Colombia, and the one I decided to buy, the Ponderosa from Panama, with the packaging promising “lemon” and “boiled sweets”. I’ve only got as far as sniffing it, but it smells absolutely gorgeous. If it tastes half as good, then I’m in for a treat!

Update: I tried the Ponderosa as a pour-over and it’s lovely. There was an initial, fruity burst when I opened the bag, but without the punchiness you’d expect from a naturally-processed coffee. As a washed coffee, the Ponderosa is more subtle, the resulting brew being really sweet and clean, but with plenty of body. A real gem of a coffee.

December 2020: Moss Coffee was a runner-up for the 2020 Best Takeaway Coffee Award.

65 BROOK STREET • CHESTER • CH1 3DZ +44 (0) 1244 340642
Monday 08:00 – 15:00 Roaster Dark Woods (espresso + batch brew)
Tuesday 08:00 – 15:00 Seating N/A
Wednesday 08:00 – 15:00 Food Cakes
Thursday 08:00 – 15:00 Service Counter
Friday 08:00 – 15:00 Payment Cards Only
Saturday 08:00 – 15:00 Wifi No
Sunday CLOSED Power Limited
Chain No Visits Original: 31st March 2018
Update: 7th August 2020

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