Bean & Cole (COVID-19 Update)

The new logo from the wall of Bean & Cole, featuring a pair of cartoon dogs, one holding an espresso cup and the other with a portafilter.Bean & Cole is another of Chester’s growing band of speciality coffee shops that has successfully reopened during the COVID-19 pandemic, initially just for takeaway, before including the seating area, albeit with fewer tables. The obvious changes aside (along with fewer tables, there are Perspex screens on the counter and stickers on the floor showing where to queue), Bean & Cole looks (and feels) much as it did before the COVID-19 pandemic, something I found in all of the coffee shops I visited in Chester.

The opening hours have been slightly reduced, as has the food menu, while Bean & Cole wasn’t serving filter coffee when I visited. That said, by the time you read this, it may well be back on the menu, with Round Hill lined up as the first of a rotating cast of guest roasters. Talking of coffee, the only other change pre-dates COVID-19, with Bean & Cole switching from Has Bean to Assembly on espresso, where it’s joined by a guest roaster, which was Ozone when I was there last week.

You can see what else I found after the gallery.

  • Bean & Cole, as seen on a sunny summer day in 2020...
  • ... and looking remarkably similar to when I first visited almost exactly a year ago in 2019.
  • There are some changes though. If you approach from the left, you'll see...
  • ... these stickers on the pavement, showing you where you need to queue.
  • Although there's no sign on the door, all the customers waited here to be called in...
  • ... where you can check the revised opening times, handily written on the door.
  • There are more markings on the floor, where the circles have been replaced by crosss.
  • The view from just inside the door.
  • And here's the seating at the front of Bean & Cole, as seen looking back from the counter.
  • It's been stripped back a little due to COVID-19. For example, there are three tables...
  • ... against the bench along the right-hand wall, whereas there used to be four larger ones.
  • The change is more pronounced on the other side, where these two tables...
  • ... replaced the large communal table that used to be there.
  • There's more seating at the back, to the left of the counter...
  • ... where you'll find two of these tall, thin four-person tables...
  • ... which is down one from the three tables of pre-COVID times.
  • There are other, more subtle (non-COVID) changes. These retail shelves from 2019...
  • ... have been replaced by these four, shorter shelves.
  • Similarly, this logo used to be painted on the left-hand wall...
  • ... while these days, you'll find this pair of characters in its place.
  • Another nice touch are the flowers on the tables...
  • ... while here's the obligatory light bulb shot (there are many more in my original post!).
  • Down to business. You order at the counter, clad in the now obligatory Perspex screens.
  • These run the full width of the short side at the front, extending down the long side...
  • ... as far as the Victoria Arduino White Eagle espresso machine.
  • This gives the counter a very different feel: here it is from the summer of 2019.
  • Perspex screens play havoc with photographing cakes!
  • Talking of food, there's a slightly reduced menu...
  • ... while the coffee menu, which is on the wall behind the counter, is largely the same.
  • These days, Assembly is the house roaster, the seasonal El Salvador the default for milk...
  • ... while the guest (currently Ozone) is the default for black coffee. Filter will be back soon.
  • I had an espresso, opting for Ozone's naturally-processed Ethiopian, although...
  • ... I could have had the El Salvador if I'd wanted. Good to see it served in a proper cup.
  • I paired this with two slices of the sour dough toast...
  • ... seen here slathered in butter. However, I have one final treat for you. The staff...
  • ...  gave me something to take home with me, which I enjoyed at my Dad's the next day.
  • It was this awesome date-flavoured Chelsea bun. Just divine.
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Located on Frodsham Street, not far from the bus station, Bean & Cole is handily located for your first coffee on the way into the city centre. Initially, that’s how I’d planned to start my day in Chester, but people were queuing to get in when I went past, so I changed things around, returning in the afternoon to make it my last port of call before catching the bus back to my Dad’s. Even then, it was fairly busy, with all but one of the tables taken when I arrived.

If you don’t know Bean & Cole, it has a simple façade, the central glass door flanked by two tall windows, making the front almost entirely glass. Inside, it’s around three times as long as it is wide, and almost as tall, with the counter, in the back right-hand corner, matching the long-and-thin theme. The seating, meanwhile, is arranged in the remaining L-shaped space, which is where the changes are most obvious.

For starters, the solitary eight-person communal table on the left has been replaced by a pair of four-person tables, while on the right, the bench running along the wall between counter and window now has three small, square, two-person tables, down from four larger ones. The remaining seating is at the back on the left, opposite the counter, where you’ll find the table count once again reduced by one, with just two high, four-person tables standing perpendicular to the wall.

There are more changes outside, where the council has pedestrianised the street. Although there’s no outside seating, handy circles on the pavement show you where to queue when Bean & Cole is busy. The staff have the customers well-trained, with everyone waiting at the door to be called in, although if there are clearly tables free, it’s probably okay to walk in, where you’ll find more markings on the floor (red crosses this time) showing you where to stand if you need to queue. Otherwise head up to the counter, where you’ll find the customary Perspex screens between you and the staff. Once you’ve paid (Bean & Cole is only taking cards at the moment), take a seat and your coffee will be brought to you.

Bean & Cole has Assembly’s seasonal single-origin espresso (currently a honey-processed coffee from El Salvador) as its default for milk-based drinks, while there’s a regularly-rotating guest roaster on the second grinder, which is the default for black drinks. That said, when I ordered my espresso, I was offered a choice of either, although I plumped for the guest, a naturally-processed Ethiopian single-origin from Ozone.

Served in a proper cup, it had plenty of body, a well-balance, smooth, fruity coffee that went down a treat. I paired this with a couple of slices of crunchy sourdough toast which fortified me nicely for the long bus journey ahead!

However, there was one final surprise. Just before I left, the staff gave me something to take home with me, a piece of what I can best described as a date-flavoured Chelsea bun. I had it with my afternoon coffee the following day and it was awesome, with a rich, chewy dough and a sweet, sticky topping.

December 2020: Bean & Cole has won the 2020 Best Cake Award.

41 FRODSHAM STREET • CHESTER • CH1 3JJ +44 (0) 1244 639060
Monday 09:00 – 17:00 Roaster Assembly + Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 09:00 – 17:00 Seating Tables
Wednesday 09:00 – 17:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 09:00 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 09:00 – 17:00 Payment Cards Only
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits Original: 25th July 2019
Update: 7th August 2020

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