The Eclectic Collection

A classic flat white with some lovely latte art, served in a classic black cup at The Eclectic Collection.Earlsfield is blessed when it comes to speciality coffee shops. Last week I wrote about Bean & Hop and, while some places would be satisfied with that, it’s not enough for Earlsfield which has today’s Coffee Spot, The Eclectic Collection, literally across the road. Opening in March 2018 with the aim of providing something different from the typical speciality coffee shop, The Eclectic Collection was initially just a café. However, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 saw the front part of The Eclectic Collection morph into a high quality delicatessen, something which has proved so popular that it’s here to stay.

These days, The Eclectic Collection is a delicatessen, a coffee shop serving an all-day brunch menu and, for two nights a week (Thursday, Friday), a restaurant with a blind menu. Serving coffee from Berlin’s The Barn certainly helps it stand out from the crowd, but perhaps the most notable thing about The Eclectic Collection are the multiple seating areas at the back, decorated in perhaps the most eclectic fashion that I’ve ever seen in a coffee shop, with colourful wallpaper, various statues, chairs which stubbornly refuse to match each other and a whole lot more besides!

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Saucer & Cup

A double shot of espresso in a classic, oversized blue cup, served at Saucer & Cup.Saucer & Cup is one of those places which has been on my radar since it opened in 2014. However, I’ve never quite been in the right place at the right time for a visit (or, possibly, never made the time/place…). Until last week, that is, when I was in Earlsfield, a mere 20-minute walk away. It was too good an opportunity to miss!

Saucer & Cup is on the other side of Wimbledon Park from the famous All England Law Tennis and Croquet Club, located on Arthur Road, just down the hill from Wimbledon Park tube station on the District Line. From the street, it’s a fairly modest space, but inside, it goes quite a way back, plus there’s a spacious basement.

The focus is on the coffee, which Saucer & Cup backs up with a concise and innovative brunch menu, all the food being prepared in the kitchen, which shares downstairs with the basement seating. Saucer & Cup only offers single-origins, with a seasonal house espresso from Workshop, plus a regularly changing guest espresso (currently Tim Wendelboe). There’s also batch brew filter and, depending on the time of day/how busy things are, you can always ask (nicely) about pour-over.

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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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Another Brother

The A-board outside Another Brother in Wandsworth, proclaiming: "Coffee | Brunch | another brother"Another Brother is another chance discovery in Wandsworth, and, like Monday’s Coffee Spot, Lockdown Bakehouse, it opened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Located just across the busy Putney Bridge Road from Wandsworth Park, it’s occupied a sunny corner at the park’s western end since opening in June 2021. There’s a handful of tables outside, split evenly between the busy Putney Bridge Road and around the corner on the quieter Brandlehow Road. Alternatively, you can sit inside, where it’s bright and sunny, with a choice of window-bar, a couple of larger tables and several smaller ones.

Another Brother tags itself as coffee and brunch. It achieves the former with the Daily Blend from Caravan on espresso, backed up with a weekly single-origin guest espresso which is also available as a batch brew filter. The guest is sometimes from Caravan (as was the case during my visit) or from a guest roaster (this week, it’s a Peruvian coffee, Andres Vasquez Burga, from Modern Standard). Brunch is provided from the kitchen at the back, with a menu featuring classic dishes such as eggs on sourdough and avocado toast, along with pancakes and corn fritters, all backed up by a selection of cakes and pastries.

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Lockdown Bakehouse

The Lockdown Bakehouse logo, carved into the top of one of the tables.Lockdown Bakehouse, just around the corner from Wandsworth Town Station and Over Under, was a chance discovery that I made when visiting in August, prompting me to call in on my return to the area last weekend. A product of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lockdown Bakehouse is just that, a bakery, which opened not long after the start of the pandemic. Since then, Lockdown Bakehouse has expanded as it’s evolved to meet the growing challenges of the pandemic, adding a small café, the subject of today’s Coffee Spot.

As well as selling the various loaves, cakes and pastries produced fresh each day from the bakery in the building behind the café, Lockdown Bakehouse offers a range of pre-made sandwiches and savouries, including pies, quiches and sausage rolls. Best of all, from a Coffee Spot perspective, is the top-notch coffee from Bristol-based Clifton Coffee Roasters, where a simple espresso-based menu is backed up by retail bags from various London roasters. While you can’t sit inside the café itself, there’s a large, partially-covered, outside seating area, plus a couple of benches right outside the door. Just be aware that Lockdown Bakehouse only serves in disposable cups, so don’t forget to bring your own.

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Bank Street Social

The latte art in my flat white at Bank Street Social in Wrexham.When discussing speciality coffee in northeast Wales, you really have to mention King Street Coffee Company, which was started by brothers Phil and Andy in 2016, and led to the opening of today’s Coffee Spot, Bank Street Social, a year later. While King Street Coffee Company, located in the bus station, closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bank Street Social, a few minutes’ walk away on (appropriately enough) Bank Street, is still going strong, as Amanda and I discovered when we visited a couple of weeks ago on our way back from North Wales.

Bank Street Social accurately describes itself as Wrexham’s only speciality coffee and craft beer shop. It’s a fairly small spot, with enough space inside for three tables at the front, the counter at the back and multiple shelves stocked with cans and bottles of craft beer (although I also spotted some cider as well). When it comes to coffee, Bank Street Social uses Neighbourhood Coffee’s Espresso Yourself blend to deliver a standard espresso-based menu, backed up by a selection of tea and hot chocolate, plus retail bags of coffee to take home. If you’re hungry, there’s a range of bagels and toasties, plus a selection of cake.

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Marmalade

Detail from the A-board outside Marmalade in Holywell, a drawing of a hare in front of the mooon, with the caption "enter the Dark Woods..."Today’s Coffee Spot has been a long time coming, three years in fact, which is how long it’s been since Marmalade opened Holywell, the town where I was born and grew up. I’ve been a customer since it first opened in 2018, but travel and then the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way, and despite many visits on my returns to Holywell, it never seemed the right time to write it up. Until now, that is.

Marmalade is on Holywell High Street, literally at the entrance to the mews leading to the Coffee Bean, home of Sarah’s Caring Coffee. There’s not much to Marmalade, with almost as much seating outside on the broad pavement (three tables) as there is inside (a pair of tables and two window-bars). The coffee is from Dark Woods Coffee, with a standard espresso-based menu, while there are neat breakfast and lunch menus, plus plenty of cake.

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Maya

Detail from the A-board outside Maya in Weybridge, boasting fresh, homemade sandwiches and sourdough bread.I’ve been meaning to check out Weybridge’s speciality coffee scene for a while, so when I found myself in the vicinity with time on my hands on Saturday, I did just that. I did have a list of potentials, but ended up visiting Maya, which was a chance discovery. A self-styled artisan micro-bakery and coffee house, I spotted Maya as I wandered down the appropriately-named Baker Street.

Opened in March 2019 by Oniz and Serdar, everything is prepared on site in the kitchen/bakery at the back, including the sourdough loaves that form the basis of the breakfast (available until 11:30) and sandwich (lunch) menus. There are also plenty of cakes, while the coffee comes from Square Mile, Maya offering a standard espresso-based menu using the Red Brick blend, with milk-based drinks served in HuskeeCups.

You can sit outside in the sun at the solitary table, or inside, where there’s a sunny window-bar on the left, plus tables down the right-hand side, opposite the counter. The kitchen and bakery, meanwhile, are tucked away at the back.

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Medicine Codsall

A strawberries and cream cruffin from Medicine Codsall, which Amanda and I shared later that day.Medicine was a chance discovery that I made in July when I stumbled on its New Street bakery/café in the heart of Birmingham. In contrast, the original Medicine Kitchen and Bakery is tucked away in Codsall, a small village west of Wolverhampton. A more modest affair than the massive New Street site, it sits in a small parade of shops on Station Road, a five-minute walk from the railway station. If you don’t mind narrow country lanes, it’s also a useful alternative to the motorway services if you are travelling along the M54, a typical diversion adding about 25 minutes to your journey.

The basic offering is the same as New Street, with a bewildering array of cakes, pastries and savouries, all freshly baked on-site, to tempt you. The full breakfast, brunch and lunch menus mix old favourites with more innovative dishes, along with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, while the coffee, served from an espresso-based menu, is from nearby Iron & Fire. Naturally, a wide range of freshly-baked loaves are available. You can either sit at one of three outside tables or inside, where tables and booths line the windows at the front, extending down the left-hand side.

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The Jester’s Tower Coffee House

The rear of the medieval postern tower in Conwy town walls, home to The Jester's Tower Coffee House.Following Monday’s Coffee Spot, Prestatyn’s Caffeina Coffi, here’s a second North Wales speciality coffee shop which opened in June this year, albeit a little further along the coast at Conwy. The Jester’s Tower Coffee House has several claims to fame, including being run by Conwy’s Town Jester and being housed in a 13th century postern tower, part of Conwy’s town walls. It’s this latter fact that puts it in the select band of speciality coffee shops in medieval postern towers, where it joins York’s Perky Peacock.

The Jester’s Tower Coffee House has the Landmark blend from Llandudno’s Heartland Coffee Roasters on espresso, offering the usual range of drinks, while there’s a seasonal single-origin on filter, currently Heartland’s Brazil Caparao Lot #11. However, there’s a lot more than just coffee, with The Jester’s Tower offering tea, soft drinks, a range of seasonal (summer) drinks, an all-day breakfast menu, sandwiches and bagels at lunchtime (11:30 – 15:00) and plenty of cake.

You can enjoy all of this in the tower itself, either upstairs (with some gorgeous views) or in the basement-like lower floor. There’s also outdoor seating at the tower’s base, tucked away under a flat roof to the left of the stairs.

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