Bean and Hop

A cortado, served in a glass on a blue saucer, made with an exclusive coffee from Santa Ana in El Salvador and roasted by Nude Espresso for Bean and Hop.For as long as I’ve lived in Guildford, Earlsfield’s been one of those stations that I’ve sped through on my way to London Waterloo (unless on the slow train to Clapham Junction, when it’s been the signal to get ready since Clapham Junction is the next stop). That is, until Tuesday, when I decided to get off at Earlsfield Station and see what the area has to offer, starting with today’s Coffee Spot, Bean and Hop, a three-minute walk south of the station.

Bean and Hop styles itself craft beer, coffee and brunch, although I’d be inclined to reverse that order (and add wine and cocktails to the list).  Occupying a sunny spot on Garratt Lane, it’s a bustling, friendly (and dog-friendly) place with plenty of seating, plus more tables outside. There’s an extensive brunch menu, with the kitchen open until three, while the coffee comes from Nude Espresso, which roasts an exclusive single-origin from Santa Ana in El Salvador (the home of Coffeeland) which is used at Bean and Hop and its two siblings, Café Tamra and Café Fleur. This is available via a standard espresso-based menu, backed up with tea, smoothies and a small range of cocktails.

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MONIES

A V60 of the Worka Chelchelie, a natural yeast process coffee from Ethiopia, roasted by Yallah Coffee and served in a glass cup at MONIES in Putney.Last weekend saw me in South West London, where I visited three speciality coffee shops, all of which opened during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Two of these, Lockdown Bakehouse (2020) and Another Brother (June this year) are in Wandsworth, but today’s Coffee Spot, MONIES, is a hop, skip and jump away in Putney.

MONIES, which opened in May this year, is a Cornish-inspired spot, located on Upper Richmond Road between Putney train station and East Putney tube station. It’s a sizeable place, with a generous outdoor terrace at the front, allowing the shop to be set back from the busy road. Inside, the front is largely the preserve of the counter, but there’s plenty of seating at the back.

There’s a seasonal single-origin espresso from Cornwall’s Yallah Coffee, with another single-origin from a guest roaster on pour-over via the V60. There’s Cornish tea (Tregothnan), wine, cocktails, beer and cider, both to drink in and takeaway, plus retail bags of Yallah Coffee, joined by local roaster, Curious Roo. If you’re hungry, there’s Cornish ice cream (from the Monies family farm, no less), plus pre-made sandwiches, cakes and pastries from The Bread Factory, and brownies from The Post Box Bakery.

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Caffi Caban

One of the cabins, known as Cwch Gwenyn (The Hive), in the garden at the back of Caffi Caban.North Wales, particularly Snowdonia, is blessed with many things, including outstanding scenery. However, great coffee has been rather thin on the ground, although in recent years, things have been improving rapidly, led in part by local roasters such as Llandudno’s Heartland Coffee Roasters and Poblado Coffi, roasting in Snowdonia itself, who both feature in today’s Coffee Spot, Caffi Caban.

Rather embarrassingly for me, Caffi Caban has only recently come to my attention, despite having opened in 2009! It’s an amazing spot, occupying the rear half of the Brynrefail Enterprise Workshops in Snowdonia. The large, curved interior, which has the majority of the tables next to the windows, overlooks an even larger outside seating area, where multi-level wooden terraces descend to a grassy expanse.

Turning to coffee, Poblado Coffi provides a house blend and decaf, while the guest espresso, which changes every week or two, is usually from Heartland or Poblado. All the shots are ground on Victoria Arduino Mythos grinders and pulled on a Black Eagle. If you don’t fancy coffee, there’s tea, beer, cider and wine, plus a selection of Welsh gin and spirits. Finally, Caffi Caban has separate breakfast and lunch menus, plus plenty of cake, all baked onsite.

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Story Coffee, Wandsworth

Welcome to Story Coffee Wandsworth, taken from the sign outside.Let me tell you a story. A story about coffee, in fact. Story Coffee started life in 2014 on St John’s Hill, between Clapham Junction and Wandsworth, although very much at the Clapham Junction end. Story Coffee made its name serving awesome brunches and excellent coffee in a fairly small, sunny spot before adding the even smaller, more grab-and-go orientated Story Works to the family in 2018. Then, in early 2020, along came Story Coffee in the Ram Quarter, Wandsworth.

The latest Story Coffee is huge. You could easily fit the first two inside and have plenty of space left over. There’s a neat coffee bar area at the front, a dedicated dining area towards the back, and a large, outdoor seating area out front. The same staples that originally made Story Coffee its name remain: excellent coffee and awesome brunches, but now with wine added to the mix.

There’s the familiar Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machine on the counter, with a bespoke house-blend roasted by Modern Standard gracing the hopper of the Mahlkönig grinder. There’s also decaf, plus a single-origin on batch brew (both Modern Standard/Story Coffee), while various guests are available on pour-over via the SP9/Kalita Wave.

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Mikki Refur

Detail from the window of Mikki Refur: Kaffi & Vin.Compared to Reykjavik Roasters, the subject of Monday’s Coffee Spot, who have been around since 2008, today’s Coffee Spot, Mikki Refur, is a comparative newcomer, having only opened in November 2020. It’s also quite different from the rest of Reykjavik’s speciality coffee scene, in that it combines wine and coffee (which, to be fair, is pretty common outside of speciality, with Reykjavik offering multiple wine/coffee bars). However, just as it offers some pretty special coffee, Mikki Refur has similar taste in wine, stocking the produce of a select group of small, organic vineyards.

Talking of coffee, the other difference is that Mikki Refur doesn’t roast its own coffee, instead serving a small range of seasonal single-origins from local roaster, Kvörn, one of which is available as espresso, with another on batch brew using the ever-reliable Moccamaster. If you’re hungry, there are compact breakfast (to 11:30) and lunch (11:30 to 15:00) menus, with bar snacks and small plates the rest of the way, along with a small selection of croissants and pain au chocolat.

In terms of atmosphere, Mikki Refur is very much a coffee shop until mid-afternoon, after which is slowly transforms into a wine bar until closing.

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Tilt Update

Details of the new (to me, at least) A-board from outside Tilt in Birmingham, promising craft beer, speciality coffee and pinball.To the best of my knowledge, Tilt is just one of two speciality coffee-and-pinball places in the UK, the other being Chiswick’s Chief Coffee, both of which opened in 2015. Mind you, Tilt’s not just coffee-and-pinball. It’s coffee-pinball-and-craft-beer, serving up to 18 different draught beers, plus there’s cider, wine, spirits, and cocktails, not to mention twelve different loose-leaf teas and five types of hot chocolate.

I first visited Tilt in January 2016, not long after it had opened. Back then, it just occupied the ground floor of an interestingly-shaped spot in Birmingham’s City Arcade, with work underway to open up the basement. Since then, it’s come a long way, not just opening the basement, but, during the enforced COVID-19 shutdown of 2020, adding an upper floor, both offering additional seating and more pinball machines.

These days, Tilt still bases its offer around pinball, beer and coffee, and its in this latter department that it perhaps has taken the greatest strides. Tilt was always serious about its coffee, but recently the owner, Kirk, has taken things to a whole new level with the Frozen Solid Coffee Project, an exciting development which I’ve dedicated an entire Saturday Supplement to.

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Wags N Tales, Surbiton

The Wags N Tails logo, a stylised line drawing of a dog's face inside a circle, with the words "Wags N Tales" written at the top of the circle and "Coffee Bar Kitchen" written at the bottom.I conclude my very brief tour of Surbiton’s speciality coffee scene (which started last week with Surbeanton and not forgetting The Press Room) with Wags N Tales. Located on Brighton Road, it’s many things: coffee shop by day, bar by night, vegetarian/vegan restaurant (11:00 – 21:00) and all-day dog-friendly venue. It’s also, by speciality coffee shop standards, huge, with a wide range of seating across multiple interior spaces, along with four large tables on the pavement outside.

Surbeaton uses local roaster Chimney Fire Coffee, with Chimney Fire’s Classic Espresso joined by a decaf option from Hampshire’s Moon Roast. When it comes to food, there’s an all-day brunch menu, plus burgers, hot dogs and various specials, all of which is vegetarian, with plenty of vegan options. This is backed up with sandwiches to go, plenty of cakes and a selection of dog snacks and treats. And, of course, there’s a well-stocked bar, with a large cocktail menu, a range of wine by the glass or bottle, various spirits and draught beer. For now, you order online (there are QR Codes on every table) and pay either at the table when your order is delivered, or at the counter before you leave.

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Riverbanc

My Vegetarian Stacked breakfast at the Riverbanc in Llangollen: egg, halloumi, mushrooms, croquette, beans and seeded toast (plus an extra slice).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.

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Sam’s Coffee

A flat white, with some lovely latte art, served in a classic white cup at Sam's Coffee in Llangollen.Llangollen, nestling on the banks of the River Dee in North Wales, is a beautiful town and one which I’ve visited many, many times over the years. However, until last summer, it had never registered on the Coffee Spot radar. Then, I visited Bold Street Coffee in Liverpool, where one of the baristas told me that Bold Street’s founder, the legendary Sam Towil, was now living in Llangollen, where he runs Sam’s Coffee. And, just like that, I started planning my visit.

Sam’s Coffee is inside Gales of Llangollen, a family-run wine bar, restaurant and 15-room hotel, all housed in a Georgian townhouse which feels, to me, like an old coaching inn. Sam’s Coffee is officially open from nine in the morning until two in the afternoon, offering a contemporary brunch menu, plus coffee from Has Bean, after which Gales takes over until late in the evening with a lunch/dinner (dunch? linner?) menu, plus beer, cider, spirits and, of course, wine. However, that doesn’t mean the coffee stops at two: as long as Sam is there, he’ll make you coffee. Although the menu is espresso-based, I spotted a kettle, Chemex and Kalita Wave, so I’m sure if you ask nicely…

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Elephant Lounge

A classic espresso in a classic cup at Elephant Lounge in Parkgate.Last week’s (very short) Coffee Spot Tour of the Wirral started at Wylde Coffee in Heswall and ended not long after in Parkgate with Elephant Lounge. Having previously said that I could see the Wirral from my parents’ house across the River Dee in Holywell, I am fairly sure that (with a large enough telescope) I could see Elephant Lounge itself!

Elephant Lounge has occupied its waterfront spot on the main road through Parkgate since 2016. It’s part of a small chain that includes Elephant Coffee, a coffee shop in nearby Neston, and its latest addition, Elephant Bank, a smokehouse and bar, which recently opened across the road from Elephant Coffee.

Coffee shop by day, and bar by night, Elephant Lounge bases its coffee menu around a bespoke seasonal espresso blend. During the day, porridge and various toast options are available for breakfast, with bagels and soup for lunch, backed up by a range of cakes. Then at four o’clock, Elephant Lounge switches over to pizzas for the evening, along with a range of draught and bottled beer, cocktails, gin, rum and wine. All this can be enjoyed in the spacious interior or in the large, shady garden at the back.

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