Although it was Sam’s Coffee that brought me to Llangollen at the end of May, while I was doing my research, I quickly discovered that Sam wasn’t the only game in town when it came to speciality coffee. Literally across the road from Sam’s Coffee is Riverbanc, which started life as an outdoor activity centre before moving into the old Midland Bank building, in the process adding a speciality coffee shop and small hotel to its portfolio.
The coffee shop occupies the left-hand side of the ground floor of the three-storey building, with a modest, L-shaped seating area which wraps around the counter. As pleasant as the interior is, sitting inside means you miss out on the best part of Riverbanc, the expansive decking at the rear of the building, which is built out high above the bank of the River Dee.
When it comes to coffee, Riverbanc uses Has Bean, offering the reliable Jailbreak blend on espresso, along with a single-origin guest, plus decaf. There’s also loose-leaf tea, hot chocolate, various flavoured lattes and iced frappes, plus bottled beer and wine. If you’re hungry, Riverbanc has contemporary breakfast and brunch menus, plus plenty of cake to keep you going.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Riverbanc is on the north side of Bridge Street, which runs east along the River Dee from the southern end of the 16th/17th century Llangollen Bridge. The old Midland Bank is a relative newcomer to the town, built in 1827, while Riverbanc moved in during 2017. However, the building was far too big for just the outdoor activities, so Riverbanc added a coffee shop (2018) and hotel (2019). As you do.
Unless you’re a hotel guest, access to the coffee shop is via the left-hand door at the front of the building. A small porch opens onto the counter, where, in pre-COVID times, you could sit at one of number of stools. These days, it’s table service, so someone will show you to a seat, then return to take your order.
In this respect, you’re spoilt for choice. Immediately to your right/behind you, a pair of booths occupy the front windows. There’s also a two-person table with low stools against the right-hand wall. The rest of the (indoor) seating is in a long, corridor-like space runs past the right-hand side of the counter to the back of the building. Three four-person tables with low, wooden benches line the right-hand wall, with a further two-person table at the back. Finally, beyond this in the left-hand corner, is a compact two-person sofa.
It really is a lovely space, abounding in wood, with high ceilings and lots of artwork. However, as tempting as it is, I recommend that you head for the back of Riverbanc, turning right at the sofa, where a door opens onto the back of the decking. Turn left and a short landing takes you past a staircase (which leads down to the riverbank) and out to the best seating in the house.
The wooden decking is built out over the riverbank (although Riverbanc is on the ground floor, Bridge Street is several metres above the water level, so behind Riverbanc, the land drops away sharply to the water’s edge). The rear of the decking has a wooden roof projecting from the back of the building, while the tables at the front, which have the best views of the river, are exposed to the elements.
Three four-person tables run along the railings at the front of the decking, overlooking the river, while a further four tables form a square under the roof. Finally, at the far end, two six-person tables (one high, one low) shelter under the roof, with a high, three-person table out by the railings.
I spent the night at Riverbanc, staying in one of the hotel’s seven rooms. I was on the top floor, with a view over the river, and made my way down to breakfast the following morning. I selected the Vegetarian Stacked, an epic feast with poached egg, halloumi, mushrooms and a potato croquette on seeded toast, plus beans in a small pot and an extra slice of toast. It was as delicious as it sounds and incredibly filling.
I sat out on the decking with the river for company. It’s not quiet out there, since the river really roars by, but I liked listening to it, and, as a bonus, it drowned out any noise from the construction site in the hotel next door! I enjoyed the views over a flat white, made with the guest single-origin, a new addition for Riverbanc. Coincidentally, it was the same Finca Licho, the fruity, yellow honey processed coffee from Costa Rica, that I had at Sam’s Coffee. It was just as good here, producing a lovely, smooth, rich and fruity flat white, the perfect start to my day!
December 2021: Riverbanc was a runner-up for the 2021 Best Outdoor Seating Award.
|BRIDGE STREET • LLANGOLLEN • LL20 8PF|
|https://riverbanc.co.uk||+44 (0) 1978 799903|
|Monday||08:00 – 16:00||Roaster||Has Bean (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 16:00||Seating||Tables, Sofa, Counter; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 16:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 16:00||Service||Table|
|Friday||08:00 – 16:00||Payment||Card Only|
|Saturday||08:00 – 16:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 16:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||28th May 2021|
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