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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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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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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MyCloud Coffee (COVID-19)

A V60 pour-over being made using a gooseneck kettle at MyCloud Coffee.MyCloud Coffee is a family-run coffee shop that, according to its address, is in Ascot, although the immediate area, in spirit at least, considers itself part of Sunningdale. Just south of the A329, which connects Virginia Water (east) and Ascot (west), it sits on Silwood Road at the Sunningdale’s northern edge, part of a row of shops on the eastern side of the road.

Opening in 2015, MyCloud serves Square Mile coffee and other goodies. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it offered inside seating, but due to current restrictions, it’s decided to remain takeaway-only for the foreseeable future. There’s a standard espresso-based menu, plus pour-over, tea (from Brew Tea Co) and Kokoa Collection hot chocolate, along with a selection of pastries, cakes and pre-made sandwiches.

If you want a seat, a row of three tables outside on the pavement faces a line of tall, mature trees on the other side of the road. If you sit here, you’ll get a proper cup, but otherwise, it’s disposable cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own.

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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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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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Kookaburra Bakehouse

A lovely piccolo, served in a glass and topped with some intricate latte art at Kookaburra Bakehouse in Chester.Kookaburra Bakehouse on Goss Street in Chester is the latest venture from the team that brought you Bean & Cole, in partnership with Jess, who bakes all the lovely cakes for Bean & Cole. It opened in July this year, offering a simple menu of excellent espresso-based coffee from Ozone, along with a range of sweet and savoury goodies (although mostly sweet), all baked in the kitchen upstairs.

It’s a tiny place, principally catering to the takeaway trade, although there are a couple of bars offering limited inside seating, where you can sit and chat with whoever is behind the counter (Ian, aka “Bean”, in our case, while his partner, Nicole, is the “Cole” of Bean & Cole). Opening hours are limited for now, from eight o’clock in the morning on Thursday, Friday and Saturday until a nominal two o’clock closing time (or when all the cakes have been sold!).

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The Table Update

A flat white in a HuskeeCup, served at The Table in Walsall.Walsall’s first and (for now) only speciality coffee shop, The Table opened at the start of April. I visited a few weeks later, when COVID-19 precautions were in full swing, restricting The Table to outside seating only. However, like The Old Roastery Coffee Shop in my hometown of Guildford, which I visited around the same time, you had to go inside to order, providing a glimpse of the lovely interior. And, like The Old Roastery, I vowed to return once the indoor seating was open to see what I was missing out on.

Since The Old Roastery is on my doorstep, I didn’t have long to wait, popping in four weeks later for a catch up. However, The Table had to wait a bit longer. My opportunity came on Saturday while driving up to North Wales with Amanda after her early morning arrival at Heathrow. Eschewing the usual crawl on the M6 around Birmingham, we took a detour to Walsall and The Table.

Other than the newly-opened interior, The Table has changed its house espresso (still from Odd Kin Coffee Roasters), added a pour-over option and expanded its food offering, with a simple breakfast menu and a range of sandwiches.

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The Gentlemen Baristas Borough Update

A flat white with some gorgeous latte art, poured by Ernie at The Gentlemen Baristas, Borough.This is where it all started for The Gentlemen Baristas, on Union Street in Borough, when the first Gentlemen Baristas opened at the end of 2014. I took my time, leaving a whole two years before I finally visited, so it’s only fitting that I left it even longer before my return, this time chalking up a gap of four years. In the intervening period, The Gentlemen Baristas has been busy, opening multiple new coffee shops. Three of these, including its London Bridge coffee shop, are in a tight cluster around the original, while another four, including its Holborn coffee shop, are in central London. These are balanced by an eastern outpost at Canary Wharf, a western one in Hammersmith and its own East London roastery.

Returning to the original after so many years, it all felt rather familiar. The counter has had a facelift, but otherwise, the downstairs layout remains largely unchanged. Upstairs, however, things are a little different, the training room having moved out, replaced by a kitchen, while the rooftop garden has undergone a complete revamp. The coffee remains excellent, although there’s no longer any pour-over. On the plus side, there’s now a full brunch menu.

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