Of all the coffee shops that I’ve visited since the COVID-19 restrictions were eased in England, Chalk Coffee can make a claim to be the one with the least physical changes. Located on Watergate Street, it’s part of the rapid expansion of Chester’s speciality coffee scene that has seen numbers swell in the last few years. Like many of the city’s speciality coffee shops, it has a basement-like feel, stretching a long way back under the famous Rows and it looks, and feels, remarkably like it did on my last visit in 2019.
However, there have been changes. As well the (admittedly minor) physical ones, you’ll find a clear sign outside on the pavement reminding you that you must wear a mask. Meanwhile, there’s a QR code on the counter that you can scan, checking you in on the NHS COVID-19 app. Not all the changes are COVID-19 related though. Chalk Coffee used to use Origin for its house espresso, but it’s recently changed to Colonna Coffee, although Origin is still on decaf, while a regularly-changing guest roaster provides the second espresso option and filter. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, the usual cast of premade sandwiches and cakes are still available.
You can see what else I found after the gallery.
From the outside, on the north side of Chester’s Watergate Street, Chalk Coffee looks much as it ever did, although there are now only two tables in front of the windows, one on either side of the door. There’s also the A-board, with the aforementioned message about masks.
Inside, things are also remarkably similar, with the layout, décor and seating much as it was before, only with more plants. There are a few changes, however. For example, the bicycle that used to hang on the wall to left, between the windows and the counter, has gone, replaced by a large plant which, despite the low light levels, seems to be thriving. There is also one change to the seating. At the back, beyond the counter, the two tall, four-person tables that used to line the high, padded sofa bench have gone, although the sofa itself remains. This opens up the rear part of Chalk Coffee quite magnificently.
The main change, however, is with the coffee, where Colonna Coffee has replaced Origin as the house espresso, with a naturally-processed Brazilian in the hopper during my visit. Origin remains on decaf while a guest roaster provides a second espresso option and the batch brew filter. And who was the guest roaster during my visit? None other than Colonna, although the staff assure me that this was a one-off!
I was tempted by the guest espresso, the Don Sabino, a naturally-processed coffee from Costa Rica, part of Colonna’s Discovery range. What can I say? It was gorgeous, with a rich, syrupy sweetness. It was very fruity on the first couple of sips, after which a little more acidity came through. I was so impressed that I bought a bag to bring home with me, which I’ve been running through my Sage Barista Express. While I haven’t quite hit the same heights with it as the baristas at Chalk managed, it’s still one of the best home espressos I’ve had this year, an instant contender for this year’s Best Espresso Award!
December 2020: Indeed, the espresso was so good that Chalk Coffee was a runner-up for the 2020 Best Espresso Award!
|24 WATERGATE STREET • CHESTER • CH1 2LA|
|www.chalkcoffee.co.uk||+44 (0) 1244 343345|
|Monday||09:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Colonna Coffee + Guests (espresso + batch brew)|
|Tuesday||09:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Window Bars; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||09:00 – 17:00||Food||Sandwiches, Cake|
|Thursday||09:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||09:00 – 17:00||Payment||Cards Only (COVID-19)|
|Saturday||09:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with login)|
|Sunday||09:00 – 17:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||Original: 14th May 2019
Update: 2nd October 2020
If you liked this Coffee Spot, then check out the rest of Chester’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Chester.
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