Mini Beans Coffee, Crewe Market Hall

A lovely flat white, made with the bespoke house blend at Mini Beans Coffee and served in my HuskeeCup.Mini Beans Coffee, a chance Instagram discovery, is located inside Crewe’s Victorian Market Hall. It joins a long, distinguished list of market-based coffee stalls, following in the footsteps of the likes of Pumphreys  Brewing Emporium in Granger Market in Newcastle and Atkinsons in Mackie Mayor just up the M6 in Manchester.

Mini Beans opened in May, a founding tenant of the newly-refurbished Market Hall, which reopened at the same time. Occupying a double unit at the front on the right-hand side, it offers a bespoke house-blend from Limini Coffee on espresso, with a regularly-changing guest roaster on batch brew, plus a small selection of tea. There’s also breakfast (toast, teacakes, porridge and almond croissants), plus afternoon tea and a selection of cakes.

Either order at the counter before taking your drinks to any of the Market Hall’s many tables or order online with the option for collection or table delivery. Note, however, that Mini Beans currently only offers disposable cups, so if you bring your own, don’t forget to order in person at the counter.

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Communion Coffee

The façade of Communion Coffee, with a large window on the right, the left-hand side split between the door (right) and a much smaller window (left). The yellow branding at the top stands out against the grey paintwork.My tour of Tooting Bec continues with Communion Coffee, on the other side of Tooting Bec station from Green Monkey London. Unlike Green Monkey and Dee Light Bakery, Communion Coffee is a relative newcomer, having opened just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It has a simple offering of quality coffee and baked goods in an equally simple space, with the counter at the back, a window-bar at the front and a large, communal table in the middle.

Turning to the coffee, old friends Assembly are on espresso, while there’s a regularly-changing guest on filter (batch brew or V60/Aeropress/Chemex), plus Good & Proper tea. Communion also stocks a wide range of retail bags. Unusually, the default is for non-dairy milks, although there is a dairy option from Brades Farm (20p extra). If you’re drinking in, Communion uses HuskeeCups, while for takeaway, there’s a 20p discount for bringing your own cup. Finally, if you’re hungry, there’s a small toast and sandwich menu, plus a range of cakes and pastries, with bread for sale.

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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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Rumdoodles

My Global WAKEcup and Amanda's Speckled Ax reusable cup waiting for their coffee at Rumdoodles in Llanberis.Rumdoodles was recommended by the staff at Caffi Caban, which Amanda and I visited two weekends ago. Located on Llanberis High Street in the heart of Snowdonia, Rumdoodles is a 10-minute drive from Caffi Caban, so we thought we’d check it out.

Rumdoodles, which opened in 2018, is an outdoor shop with an espresso bar inside. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it had two cosy (and tiny) seating areas in the front and back, but these are currently off-limits. Until they’re back in action, Rumdoodles is serving in takeaway cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own.

Rumdoodles uses the ubiquitous Landmark seasonal blend from Heartland Coffee Roasters, serving a standard espresso-based menu, backed up by a range of cakes. You can sit outside on the solitary bench to drink your coffee or, as Amanda and I did, take the short stroll down to the shores of Llyn Padarn.

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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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Over Under Coffee, Wandsworth Town

A lovely flat white with an abstract latte art pattern in it, made with the Over Under house blend and served in my HuskeeCup at Over Under Coffee, Wandsworth Town.Over Under Coffee, the coffee shop, brunch and cocktails chain specialising in tiny coffee shops, branched out south of the Thames when it took over the old CWTCH site at Wandsworth Town Station in 2019. Currently there are five Over Unders, all associated with stations: the original at Earls Court, its near neighbour at West Brompton and the flagship Over Under at Ladbroke Grove, while Wandsworth Town has since been joined south of the river by Clapham Old Town.

Occupying a large kiosk right outside the station on the quiet Old York Road, you might think that the outdoor setting would cramp Over Under’s style. However, neither this nor the lack of space is a problem for Over Under, which manages to fit in a full kitchen, the only compromise being cocktails, which isn’t that surprising since Over Under closes at one o’clock in the afternoon (two at weekends)!

There’s the usual concise espresso-based menu, along with batch brew filter, the coffee, as ever, coming from Assembly. This is backed up with tea and hot chocolate, while the brunch menu offers a range of fillings in either a sourdough or brioche roll, plus banana bread and a selection of pastries.

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Lily London, Shard

A flat white in my HuskeeCup at Lily London, ShardAt the start of 2021, when I was wondering if there would be any coffee shops I could write about, an unexpected bonus arrived in my hometown, Guildford in the shape of Lily London, a coffee shop in a telephone box! Since then, Lily London has opened three more coffee shops in telephone boxes in (appropriately) London, Eastbourne and Edinburgh.

The London telephone box is on St Thomas Street, around the back of London Bridge station and almost directly under the UK’s tallest building, The Shard. Passing through the capital last weekend, I thought it was about time that I paid it a visit. For those who don’t know, Lily London serves its own coffee, imported from Brazil by the owner, then roasted by Plot Roasting. There’s a standard espresso-based menu, along with retail bags of the coffee. Unsurprisingly, it’s takeaway cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own.

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Sarah’s Leytonstone

An espresso extracting into a glass from a Rancilio Silvia espresso machine at Sarah's Leytonstone.Sarah’s Leytonstone is brought to you by the eponymous Sarah, who runs B-Tempted, the gluten-free bakers whose cakes you’ll find in various places as diverse as coffee shop chain, Notes, health food supermarket, Whole Foods Market, and supermarket, Morrisons (you can also buy cakes direct from Sarah via B-Tempted’s webshop). Sarah’s Leytonstone is Sarah’s latest venture, serving coffee, cakes and good cheer from the front of the railway arch that houses the B-Tempted bakery.

The set-up (for now) is a relatively simple. There’s a pair of tables on the quiet side street in front of the arch, while inside is a neat counter with the espresso machine, till, cakes and, of course, Sarah herself. For the moment, the coffee is from Perky Blenders, with a standard espresso-based menu, plus batch brew. However, things are evolving all the time, with plans for some indoor seating once COVID-19 restrictions allow, plus an expanded offering.

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Bruin Café (COVID-19)

James, a barista at Bruin Café in Wheatley, making a V60 of the Trés Barras from Origin.Today’s Saturday Short will do little to dispel Thinking Bean’s suspicion that all I do is drive along the M40, looking for coffee shops, since it is another gem that I discovered on my drive to North Wales exactly one week ago today. The place in question, Bruin Café, is in Wheatley, less than 10 minutes’ drive from Junctions 8/8A on the M40.

Physically, there’s not a lot to Bruin Café. It’s small enough to make it impractical for the owner, Louis, to reopen the indoor seating while social distancing restrictions remain in place. Instead, Louis and his colleagues serve from a converted hatch in the door. However, being small is no limit to Bruin Café’s ambition and it has an output that would put many larger coffee shops to shame.

The coffee is from Cornwall’s Origin and, at the other end of the scale, the Cotswolds’ Quintessential Coffee Roasters. I counted at least 10 single-origins across the two roasters during my visit, and while Louis will happily suggest something for you, all the coffees are available as pour-overs (plus espresso and that day’s batch brew). There’s also tea, a full hot food menu and plenty of cakes, all baked onsite.

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