I discovered Way Speciality Coffee Roasters in March, when I stopped in Ghent my way back from my trip to Amsterdam. European Coffee Trip led me to Way Coffee & Book Shop on Voldersstraat in the historic city centre, where I had a chance meeting with Ward, Way’s co-owner and head roaster, who invited me to the Way Roastery & Shop the following Monday (Way also has a bakehouse and café on Jakobijnenstraat 7 which I didn’t manage to visit).
Way Roastery & Shop is in Dok Noord, an old industrial complex that’s been redeveloped into a residential, office and leisure hub, a 25-minute walk or short tram ride north of the centre. Way occupies part of what was once a washing machine factory, housing a spacious café, showroom and roastery. Today’s Coffee Spot is all about the café, with the roastery featuring in its own Meet the Roaster feature in due course.
Way only roasts single-origins and is entirely plant-based (vegan). There’s a choice of the house espresso (from Brazil) plus a single-origin on espresso, along with two choices (Brazil plus another single-origin) on batch-brew filter and a wide selection on pour-over through the V60 or AeroPress.
The first overhaul came when the roastery moved into a separate building behind the original. I reported on this and the subsequent remodelling of the cafe in 2020, publishing my Coffee Spot Update less than a month before the COVID-19 pandemic swept around the world. This resulted in the cafe closing its doors for over two years, from March 2020 until May 2022, although the roastery kept going the whole time. However, one good thing that came out of the enforced closure was that it gave Tandem the time and space to undertake a complete remodelling of the café, which is the subject of today’s Coffee Spot Update.
On my way home after my trip to Amsterdam in March, I spent a quiet week visiting friends in Ghent. It was very low key, but I did wander around the city centre a few times and, naturally, I checked out the local coffee scene with the help of European Coffee Trip. While I didn’t have time to explore as much as I would have liked, I found myself drawn to Way on Voldersstraat, right in the heart of the old city.
Way is a roaster with three very different coffee shops in the city. The one on Voldersstraat is an interesting place, serving takeaway coffee (but with outside seating) while also acting as a retail shop, selling both beans and home coffee equipment. And to cap it all, there’s a bookshop upstairs, with an eclectic collection, centred around coffee and sustainable living.
When it comes to the coffee, there are two single-origins on espresso, with all the shots pulled on a Modbar system. There are also multiple single-origins on pour-over, Way using the Modbar automated system with the V60. Finally, there’s a selection of cakes and pastries, all baked in-house with the added twist that Way is entirely plant-based/vegan.
Today’s Coffee Spot sees us move from Brisbane to Melbourne, although technically we’re in the suburbs, in Nunawading, home to Manta Ray Coffee Roasters. I first became aware of Manta Ray when I visited Pinhole Coffee Bar in Singapore, where Manta Ray was the guest roaster. Then, when I reached Melbourne, I found that Manta Ray topped many people’s must-visit lists. Since I had a hire car for my drive along the Great Ocean Road, I decided to make a two-hour round trip to the east of Melbourne to visit Manta Ray before I set off.
Manta Ray Coffee Roasters, as the name suggests, is both roastery and coffee bar. Although Manta Ray has been roasting for a while, the coffee bar has only been open since October 2022. Despite this, it’s already become a place of pilgrimage for Melbourne’s speciality coffee community. There are two blends on espresso, along with five single-origins on pour-over and some interesting cold coffee options. Naturally, all the coffee is available to buy in retail bags, and while this is rightly the main draw, if you’re hungry, there’s a wide range of cakes and pastries, along with a smaller selection of savoury pastries.
Other than a brief visit to old friends Black Gold, the first stop on my return to Amsterdam last month was Sango. Located in the heart of Amsterdam’s historic city centre on Stromarkt, a stone’s throw from the station, Sango is a relatively new addition, having opened since my previous visit in 2018. Spread over three floors of a beautiful building, dating from 1670, there’s a roastery and equipment showroom in the basement, with the counter and limited seating on the ground floor and more seating upstairs, all connected via a tight, winding spiral staircase. You’ll probably also meet Mocha, the resident coffee shop dog, who has her own spot at the front by the espresso machine.
While the building is worth a visit in its own right, the coffee is just as big a draw. Everything is roasted on the 1.5 kg roaster in the basement, which you can see through a glass panel in the floor, or (more typically) on a 15 kg Giesen in a dedicated off-site roastery. Serving only single-origins, there’s a choice of espresso, batch brew filter or two options on pour-over using the Origami filter. There’s also cake, pastries and a range of toasted sandwiches.
The final Coffee Spot from last October’s mid-American road trip is, appropriately enough, from our last stop, Chattanooga, before we arrived home that evening in Atlanta. Velo Coffee Roasters was on my original list of places to visit and I’d planned to call in when we stopped in Chattanooga on the drive out. However, we arrived too late, making the chance discovery of Niedlov’s Cafe & Bakery instead. On our return, I was determined not to make the same mistake, reaching Chattanooga with time in hand.
Velo Coffee Roasters is one of Chattanooga’s speciality coffee pioneers, having opened in 2009 before moving to its current location, just down the street from Neidlov’s, in 2015. Both coffee shop and roastery, Velo has a large, sheltered outdoor seating area and a quirky, multi-faceted interior, with the bonus of a barbershop upstairs at the back. Returning to coffee, the Boneshaker blend is offered as default for milk-based drinks, along with a single-origin option, while there are two single-origins on pour-over through the AeroPress, Chemex or Kalita Wave filter, one of which is also available on batch brew. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there are freshly-baked cakes and pastries from Chattanooga bakery, Bread & Butter.
Continuing the retelling of our road trip from Atlanta to South Dakota last month, our next stop after Nashville was St Louis, home of today’s Coffee Spot, Blueprint Coffee on Delmar Boulevard. We actually visited Blueprint on our way back to Atlanta, having calling into Sump Coffee on the way out. However, since I wrote about Sump Coffee’s Nashville store on Monday, I wanted to spread the love.
Like Sump, Blueprint Coffee is both roaster and coffee shop, with three shops in St Louis. We visited the original which is, for the moment, also home to the roastery, located at the back of the building.
Occupying a long, thin shop in the Delmar Loop neighbourhood, Blueprint is close to the St Louis Metro as well as having free on-street parking nearby (which was handy for us). There are a handful of tables outside on the busy pavement, with several more in the spacious interior. All the coffee is roasted on-site, with a blend and regularly-rotating single-origin on espresso, plus another on batch-brew and a selection of eight blends/single-origins on pour-over using the SP9 and Kalita Wave filter. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a concise all-day brunch menu and various cakes.
Linea has two locations, Linea Caffe, in San Francisco’s Mission District, and today’s Coffee Spot, its wonderful café/roastery on Mariposa Street in Potrero Hill. This opened in January 2020, just after my last visit to Linea Caffe and just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic. Occupying Intelligentsia’s old San Francisco roastery, it’s a lovely spot, with the roastery at the back on the left and a spacious coffee bar/retail area at the front on the right.
For now, there’s no indoor seating (due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic), but there is a stepped terrace outside on Mariposa Street as it descends to pass under I-280 on its way to San Francisco Bay. Of course, with San Francisco’s climate, outdoor seating is all you really need, although this arrangement does mean that Linea only has disposable cups, so don’t forget to bring your own (which attracts a 25% discount).
The real draw is the coffee, with a blend on espresso and a rotating single-origin on batch brew filter. There’s a much wider selection of beans to buy in retail bags, including multiple single-origins and a range of organic coffee. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a selection of cakes and pastries.
When I went to Berlin in May this year for work, I really wasn’t expecting much in the way of speciality coffee in the vicinity of my hotel, just south of the Zoological Garden. However, I was much mistaken. On my arrival, I made the chance discovery of The Visit, just down the street from my hotel, and then, on my first full day, I visited the original Five Elephant in Kreuzberg, where the staff told me about the newest Five Elephant, located inside the famous KaDeWe department store, a convenient short stroll from my hotel.
Five Elephant is on the top floor of KaDeWe at the back of the food hall. There’s a big, square island counter, plenty of seating and a large retail area (both beans and an extensive range of coffee equipment), all backed up by some very knowledgeable and friendly staff. There’s a very similar coffee and cake offering to the Kreuzberg coffee shop, with a single-origin and decaf on espresso, all shots pulled on a Modbar installation. For filter, there’s another single-origin on batch brew with any of the beans currently in stock available through either the AeroPress or as a pour-over through the V60.
I first met Liverpool’s Neighbourhood Coffee at Cup North in 2015, not long after Ed and Chris had set up the business, roasting on a 15 kg Giesen in a railway arch just north of the city centre. Although new to roasting at that point, they already had plenty of coffee experience, having previously worked for green-bean importers and African coffee specialists, Schluter (now part of Olam).
Since then, I’ve enjoyed Neighbourhood’s coffee, with its striking pop-song themed names (Grind Control to Major Tom and It’s a Grind of Magic spring to mind), both in coffee shops around the UK and at home. Over the years, the business has expanded, resulting in a move in early 2020 to a new location a little further north along the Mersey shoreline. Clearly, when I made a long-overdue return to Liverpool in June, a visit to Neighbourhood’s “new” home was top of my list!