FLTR Coffee (COVID-19)

The FLTR Coffee logo at the back of FLTR Coffee in Bicester.In my on-going search for alternatives to the motorway services, my eyes alighted on FLTR Coffee during my drive to North Wales last Saturday. Located in Langford Village, on the southeastern outskirts of Bicester, it’s conveniently less than 10 minutes’ drive from J9 of the M40 to the south, under 15 minutes from J10 to the north and, if you’re coming by public transport, a short (15 minutes) walk from Bicester Village Station. Part of a small parade of shops in an outdoor shopping centre, there’s ample free parking.

FLTR Coffee, which is owned by a church called Journey Communities, was made possible by donations from various charitable organisations, churches, neighbours and friends. When it comes to coffee, the house roaster is Dark Woods Coffee, so you know that you’re in excellent hands. During my visit, Dark Woods was on the concise espresso menu, while both options on pour-over (V60) were from Dark Woods too. Meanwhile, local roaster, Oxford’s NewGround, is on decaf, with FLTR Coffee offering a selection of tea and hot chocolate as well. If you are hungry, there are toast and toasted teacakes for breakfast, plus a range of toasties and cakes to tempt you.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • At the end of a parade of shops in a small shopping centre in Langford Village...
  • ... is FLTR Coffee.There's no seating out front, but there is this neat area down the side.
  • The four tables are literally around the corner from the front door.
  • The front has two large windows, one either side of the central, glass door.
  • The view from just inside the door, looking towards the back of FLTR Coffee.
  • Normally there are plenty of tables down the left-hand side of FLTR Coffee...
  • ... but they have been cleared away to make space for this one-way ordering system.
  • Head down the left-hand side and turn right at the top, which takes you to the counter...
  • ... where you order. Then all you have to do is find a seat.
  • The only seating in the left-hand part of FLTR Coffee is this three-person window-bar.
  • The remaining seating is on the right...
  • ... starting with this four-person table in the window.
  • For now, there are three two-person tables in the space between counter and window.
  • Neat decoration. And a handy reminder of where you are.
  • You can also find the FLTR manifesto on the wall.
  • Nice clock.
  • A sign of the (COVID-19) times and the obligatory NHS App QR Code.
  • There are also light bulbs. Lots of light bulbs. I've missed photographing light bulbs...
  • ... so you might have to indulge me.
  • Last one, I promise.
  • There's a fridge for soft drinks and a set of retail shelves in the back-left corner.
  • This is where you'll find a range of coffee from house-roaster, Dark Woods Coffee...
  • ... along with the current decaf from local roasters NewGround.
  • There's another retail shelf, this time with coffee kit, next to the front of the counter.
  • To business. The L-shaped counter occupies the back right-hand corner.
  • You order right at the back, which is the first part of the counter you get to.
  • You'll also find the (very concise) food menu back here.
  • There are snacks by the till...
  • ... and more cakes in the display case to the right.
  • I was very tempted by the cinnamon apple cake, but managed to resist.
  • The coffee menu is really neat, by the way.
  • The V60 choices are right in the middle of the menu...
  • ... while the decaf (left) and espresso blend (right) are displayed in the grinders.
  • I had a pour-over, which was prepared right at the front of the counter, next to the EK43.
  • FLTR Coffee is only serving in disposable cups at the moment...
  • ... so I had my coffee in my Frank Green Ceramic cup, which is where I'll leave you.
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FLTR Coffee occupies the end unit of a modern parade of shops in the Langford Village Shopping Centre. The simple façade has two large windows, one either side of a central glass door, while there’s an outdoor seating area around to the side. Four two/three-person tables are arranged in a line down the right-hand side of FLTR Coffee, separated from the pavement by a long, low planter.

Inside, FLTR Coffee occupies a simple rectangular space with a surprisingly high ceiling (about twice the height of the windows), which gives it a great sense of space. In look and feel, the building reminds me of a typical American coffee shop rather than a British one. The counter is at the back on the right-hand side, with a kitchen/storeroom area behind it. In normal times, the seating is arranged in the remaining L-shaped area, but having only reopened the interior at the start of last week, FLTR Coffee is operating with reduced seating for now.

This means that, other than a three-person window-bar to your left as you enter, all the seating is on the right, between the window and counter. This leaves the left-hand side clear for customers to get from door to the counter and back. Head along the left-hand side to the back of FLTR Coffee, where you’ll find a single retail shelf above a fridge with soft drinks. From here, you come around to the , where you’ll find the till at the end of the counter.

You order here, then move past the cakes and espresso machine to the front of the counter and the V60s at the pour-over station. If you’ve ordered takeaway, you collect your coffee here before heading down the middle of FLTR Coffee to the door. Alternatively, if you’re sitting in, take a seat and your coffee will be brought to you.

Along with the three-person window-bar, a four-person table sits in the window on the right. A pair of two-person tables line the right-hand wall, the second one by the counter, with a final two-person table in the middle of the right-hand side. However, this is all due to change, with FLTR Coffee planning a major refurbishment for the second week in June, ahead of what will hopefully be a full reopening following the removal of the last of the COVID-19 restrictions.

For now, FLTR Coffee is only serving in disposable cups, so don’t forget to bring your own. Dark Woods Coffee’s Under Milk Wood blend was on espresso during my visit, but I felt I couldn’t come to a coffee shop called FLTR Coffee and not have a pour-over. FLTR Coffee has two options on V60, one washed, one natural. The washed coffee was a barrel-aged coffee from Ethiopia, which, had I been paying more attention, I might have selected.

Instead, I went for the natural, a micro-lot of the Arañas varietal from the Fazenda Passeio farm in Brazil. I was rewarded with a lovely, rich, full-bodied coffee, which I had in my Frank Green Ceramic cup. Full of complex, fruity flavours, it set me up nicely for the rest of my drive. I also bought a box of the decaf from NewGround, an heirloom Ethiopian, decaffeinated using the CO2 process, which I should be enjoying at home later this week.

6A NIGHTINGALE PLACE • BICESTER • OX26 6XX
www.fltrcoffee.co.uk +44 (0) 1869 329933
Monday 08:00 – 16:00 Roaster Darkwoods (espresso + filter) + NewGround (decaf)
Tuesday 08:00 – 16:00 Seating Tables, Window Bar; Tables (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 16:00 Food Cakes, Sandwiches
Thursday 08:00 – 16:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 16:00 Payment Card Only
Saturday 09:00 – 16:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 15:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 22nd May 2021

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