An AeroPress of an Ethiopian single-origin from Heartland Coffee Roasters, served in a carafe with a cup on the side, all presented on a wooden tray.Chester’s rapidly-expanding speciality coffee scene shows no sign of slowing down, with the latest addition, Fika, opening right at the end of last year. An evolution of micro-bakery Gnome’s Kitchen, which itself only opened in 2020, Fikaoccupies a wonderful location near the middle of a short row of buildings on top Chester’s city walls. Right next to The Northgate, part of the city’s original Roman walls which are now almost 2,000 years old, Fikalooks out over the canal, itself a relative newcomer, having opened in 1774.

Fikais vegan, joining the likes of Jaunty Goat on Northgate Street and the Doughnut Whisperer down in Rufus Court, both a short stroll (and a flight of steps) from Fika. All the bread and cakes are from the micro-bakery in Hoole, made with locally-sourced ingredients wherever possible. The coffee is from Heartland Coffee Roasters, the ubiquitous Landmark blend on espresso plus single-origin options on batch brew and pour-over (V60 or AeroPress), along with tea and hot chocolate.

Since it’s relatively new, Fikais constantly evolving. For example, this week sees the launch of the concise all-day brunch menu, while there are plans to expand the opening hours, particularly as the days get longer.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • High on Chester city walls, themselves towering over the canal below, is this blue...
  • ... door and window, home to Fika⁺, the latest addition to Chester's speciality coffee scene.
  • But how to get up there? The easiest way is from Northgate Street, where these steps...
  • ... next to the arch lead up to the top of the walls.
  • Just keep going at the top and you'll find Fika⁺ on the right.
  • Alternatively, a little further down Northgate Street, a short alley leads off...
  • ... towards Rufus Court.
  • Turn left and head through this arch into a lovely, enclosed courtyard...
  • ... where steps lead up at the back...
  • ... in turn giving access to a narrow stairway, which doubles back on itself.
  • The view from the top.
  • At the top, turn right and go back on yourself which leads to this short passage...
  • ... which, in turn, takes you out onto the walls. Turn left, and there it is: Fika⁺!
  • Confirmation, in case you needed it.
  • Stepping inside, this is the view from the door, with the counter on the right...
  • ... set back from the window, leaving room for a narrow two-person window-bar.
  • There's also a small library and retail shelf between the counter and window.
  • A step leads down from the door, where there are two tables and a bench to the left...
  • ... which ends at the fireplace. Note that there are also a couple of chairs at the counter.
  • The seating continues after the fireplace...
  • ... with another pair of tables at the back.
  • The door to the toilet is at the back on the opposite side.
  • Meanwhile, the window gives a view out over Rufus Court.
  • The view back towards the front.
  • There are lots of lovely features in Fika⁺, including this wonderfully tiled fireplace.
  • I was particularly taken by the shelves (and the amount of plants around the place).
  • Naturally, I was also drawn to the light fittings.
  • So many lovely light fittings.
  • I really did like the way that the bulbs were hung at different heights.
  • There were also more conventional lights.
  • Last one, I promise.
  • To business. You order at the counter...
  • ... where you'll find the pastries and cakes, all baked in-house, in the display case.
  • The coffee side of the operation is at the back of the counter, against the wall.
  • The EK43 is for filter, while the espresso is taken care of by this...
  • ... brand-new Sanremo F18 espresso machine and its grinder.
  • The concise menu is on a chalkboard above the espresso machine.
  • If you want filter, there's batch brew, through the Moccamaster...
  • ... or there's pour-over through the V60 or AeroPress.
  • Sadly, this wasn't mine, but I loved the cup and the latte art.
  • Instead, I had an AeroPress of an Ethiopian single-origin, served in a carafe, with...
  • ... a cup on the side, all presented on a neat wooden tray, which is where I'll leave you.
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Chester’s city walls are worth a visit in their own right, forming a complete circuit around the medieval centre. One drawback, when doing a tour of the walls, was having to pop down to get a cup of coffee, although the likes of Bean & Cole, Obscure Coffee and Jaunty Goat on Northgate Street are all great options, each at most a few minutes’ walk from the walls. However, Fikahas gone one better by being on the wall itself!

Obviously, the best way to visit Fikais while walking around the walls. However, if you’re heading directly there, you have a couple of options. The most obvious is to via the steps to the right of The Northgate arch, which take you to the top of the walls. Ahead, a short row of buildings stand on top the walls, with Fikasecond on the right.

Alternatively, you can reach Fikafrom Rufus Court, a collection of small, independent shops arranged around a courtyard just off Northgate Street. Technically, the shops on the wall, including Fika, are part of Rufus Court, a metal staircase at the back of the courtyard ascending to a small passageway that leads through the middle of the buildings and out onto the walls. Turn left and Fikais immediately on your left.

However you get there, initially there doesn’t seem much to Fika, just a single, multi-paned window with a door on the left, both painted striking blue. However, Fikagoes a fair way back, stretching the full depth of the building, all the way to a window in the back wall overlooking Rufus Court. The result is a bright, cosy interior with high ceilings and lovely décor, including wooden floorboards and an original, tiled fireplace.

A step leads down from the door into Fika, where you’ll find the counter off to the right, set back from the window at the front, leaving space for a two-person window-bar. The counter runs along the right-hand wall, with a pair of tall bar chairs providing more seating. Beyond the counter’s end is a small, enclosed kitchen, with the toilet at the back.

The remainder of the seating runs along the left-hand wall, a pair of L-shaped, padded benches occupying the space either side of the fireplace, which is opposite the end of the counter. Each bench has two square tables, with the one closest to the fireplace seating two. However, the tables at the front and back, where the benches wrap around the wall, seat three.

Fikagrew from plant-based micro-bakery, Gnome’s Kitchen, which owner Naomi opened in 2020 in Hoole. All the cakes and bread are baked there using stone-ground flour from Walk Mill, a water-powered mill 10 km east of Chester. Fikauses Heartland Coffee Roasters, serving the Landmark espresso blend using a brand-new Sanremo F18 espresso machine, with Oato providing the non-dairy alternative for flat whites, etc.

Batch brew and pour-over join the concise espresso-based menu, with plans to use a rotating guest roaster for these. For now, both are from Heartland, the El Salvador Los Nogales on batch, while there’s an Ethiopian single-origin, which I had through the AeroPress, made by manager Becky. Served in a carafe with a cup on the side, this lovely, fruity coffee sweetened as it cooled, the perfect introduction to Fika.

Monday CLOSED Roaster Heartland (espresso + filter)
Tuesday CLOSED Seating Tables, Window-bar
Wednesday 10:00 – 16:30 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 10:00 – 16:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 10:00 – 16:30 Payment Cash + Card
Saturday 10:00 – 16:30 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:30 – 16:30 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 27th February 2022

If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, then take a look at the rest of Chester’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Chester.

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