Today’s Saturday Short will do little to dispel Thinking Bean’s suspicion that all I do is drive along the M40, looking for coffee shops, since it is another gem that I discovered on my drive to North Wales exactly one week ago today. The place in question, Bruin Café, is in Wheatley, less than 10 minutes’ drive from Junctions 8/8A on the M40.
Physically, there’s not a lot to Bruin Café. It’s small enough to make it impractical for the owner, Louis, to reopen the indoor seating while social distancing restrictions remain in place. Instead, Louis and his colleagues serve from a converted hatch in the door. However, being small is no limit to Bruin Café’s ambition and it has an output that would put many larger coffee shops to shame.
The coffee is from Cornwall’s Origin and, at the other end of the scale, the Cotswolds’ Quintessential Coffee Roasters. I counted at least 10 single-origins across the two roasters during my visit, and while Louis will happily suggest something for you, all the coffees are available as pour-overs (plus espresso and that day’s batch brew). There’s also tea, a full hot food menu and plenty of cakes, all baked onsite.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Bruin Café is on Wheatley’s quiet High Street, occupying what was a small shop, although it had been a café before Louis took over at the end of 2019. With hindsight, this was rather poor timing. However, despite only having three months of trading before the start COVID-19 pandemic, Bruin Café has become a firm favourite with the locals. On the rather rainy day I visited, a steady stream of loyal customers came for their coffee.
When using Bruin Cafe as an alternative to the motorway services, there’s plenty of free parking, including several spaces in front of the small parade of shops opposite or in one of two car parks on the next street over (Church Street). Alternatively, Wheatley is well served by bus, and is about 30 minutes from Oxford.
Until the current social distancing restrictions are removed, Bruin Café is takeaway only, with Louis and colleagues serving from a hatch in the door, which you’ll find on the left-hand side of the shop. The rest of Bruin Café is effectively one large (shop) window, which displays the various goodies on offer, including coffee and food.
Despite its size, Bruin Café offers a selection of bagels/ciabatta rolls, quiches and other savouries, poke bowls, quesadillas and burgers. This is backed up by a range of cakes and pastries baked onsite. And then there’s the coffee…
Bruin Café uses Cornwall’s Origin along with Quintessential Coffee Roasters from the Cotswolds, which offers a range on interesting single-origins, all roasted on a 100g Ikawa roaster. The menu is simplicity itself: choose small (2-4oz), medium (6-8oz) or large (10-12oz) and whether you want milk (non-dairy alternatives are available), then decide between espresso, batch-brew or pour-over through the V60, where you can have anything you can see in the window.
I asked for a suggestion and, after ascertaining that I wanted something fruity, Louis recommended the Trés Barras, a naturally-processed coffee from Brazil, roasted by Origin, which I had in my Frank Green Ceramic cup. Although takeaway only, if you want a seat, you can take your coffee around the corner to the outside seating in front of The Merry Bells Village Hall, which is what I did.
The Trés Barras proved to be sweet and subtle, getting better as it cooled. I paired this with a wonderfully sticky bun known as a Pecan Mess. This gorgeous concoction is in the style of a Chelsea bun with a wonderfully sticky (and messy) glaze, the perfect companion to my coffee.
December 2021: Bruin Café was a runner-up for the 2021 Most Passionate About Coffee Award.
|87A HIGH STREET • WHEATLEY • OX33 1XP|
|https://bruincafe.co.uk||+44 (0) 7818 255252|
|Monday||CLOSED||Roaster||Origin + Quintessential (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||09:00 – 16:00||Seating||N/A|
|Wednesday||09:00 – 16:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||09:00 – 16:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||09:00 – 16:00||Payment||Cards|
|Saturday||09:00 – 16:00||Wifi||N/A|
|Chain||No||Visits||22nd May 2021|
In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that Louis recognised me after I’d ordered and refused to let me pay for either my coffee or my Pecan Mess!
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