COFFI is another recent addition to Liverpool’s speciality coffee scene which came highly recommended. Located on a cobbled street running parallel to Hope Street, there’s a lovely view of Liverpool’s Church of England Cathedral (not to be confused with Liverpool’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, which is at the other end of Hope Street). COFFI opened in the late spring of 2021 in a lovely old coach house, which provides a unique setting for the coffee shop. There’s limited seating inside at a long table, while there are four benches outside on the quiet street.
The real draw, however, is the coffee, with owners Nat + Mike, who cut their coffee teeth in Bucharest, selecting some outstanding beans from Europe’s best roasters, brewing from a concise espresso-based menu with batch-brew filter and pour-over options. Berlin’s Five Elephant and London’s Assembly were on the shelves when I visited, but these change every two to three weeks, so you’re going to need to hurry to catch them. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a small selection of cakes available.
Today’s Meet the Roaster is Adams + Russell, a speciality coffee roaster and fixture of Birkenhead’s coffee scene ever since Mr Adams + Mr Russell first set up shop on an industrial estate near Birkenhead Central station in 1978. Although both founders have moved on, the company hasn’t gone very far in the intervening 44 years, the biggest change coming 10 years ago when expansion saw Adams + Russell relocate to its current home on the same industrial estate.
The same cannot be said for its coffee, though. While still best known in The Wirral and the northwest, Adams + Russell has an increasingly global reach, supplying customers as far afield as South Korea and Iceland’s Skool Beans. Adams + Russell’s philosophy has also come a long way since those early days, when dark-roast blends were its backbone. While the dark-roast blends remain, Adams + Russell has embraced speciality coffee and adopted the lighter roasts beloved of third-wave coffee aficionados to produce a truly impressive range of blends, single-origins and micro lots.
I’ve already written about the roastery’s small retail shop (where you can also buy a cup of coffee) so today’s post is all about the roastery itself.
Press Bros. Coffee was recommended by my old friends at Neighbourhood Coffee when I visited Liverpool two weeks ago. Founded by three brothers who, in 2018, bought a converted Piaggio coffee van, Press Bros. began life in the Baltic Market (where the Piaggio is still going strong). Three years later, in October 2021, Press Bros. opened its first bricks and mortar store on Lark Lane in Aigburgh, south of the city centre and a stone’s throw from Sefton Park.
Press Bros. has come a long way from the Piaggio van, with Lark Lane, the subject of today’s Coffee Spot, offering a lot more than coffee. There’s an all-day brunch menu, sandwiches and cakes, along with tea and a range of draught and canned beer, plus wine and cocktails. When it comes to coffee, Neighbourhood provides a bespoke house blend on espresso, where it’s joined by a guest espresso, which changes every month. There are also a couple of filter options, which are matched to a specific preparation method. For June, this was Neighbourhood’s Born Sipping, a naturally-processed coffee from smallholders in the Konga region of Ethiopia (AeroPress) and the Las Guerreras, a Mexican single-origin from Girls Who Grind (V60).
Monday’s Coffee Spot is Bloom Building and Coffee, a chance discovery made while researching my trip to The Wirral two weeks ago. On an industrial estate in Birkenhead, it’s an interesting place, combining café, bar and venue space with hosting the Open Door Charity, which supports the mental wellbeing of young people across Merseyside, funded, in part, by Bloom Building’s profits. It also offers hot desking space and meeting rooms.
Unsurprisingly, my focus is on Bloom Building and Coffee in its role as a café, where you have a choice of any of the building’s public spaces, including the terrace, main venue/bar and mezzanine, all housed in the brightly-coloured industrial unit that’s been Bloom Building’s home since it opened in 2019. The coffee is from local roasters, Adams + Russell, which has its roastery (and shop) a 20-minute walk away. You’ll find an Ethiopian Sidamo on espresso, along with a Costa Rica decaf, both served from a concise menu, along with tea, hot chocolate and a range of soft drinks. As befits a bar, there’s a wide selection of beer, cider, wine and spirits. If you’re hungry, you can choose from a small range of cakes, pastries and vegan sandwiches/wraps.
Adams + Russell has been roasting coffee in Birkenhead for over 40 years, operating from a unit on the Argyle Industrial Estate, a few minutes’ walk from Birkenhead Central station, a familiar-enough home if you’ve visited as many coffee roasters as I have. You can read about Adams + Russell the roaster in its own Meet the Roaster feature, but today’s post is about the coffee shop attached to the roastery. This primarily acts as a retail outlet for Adams + Russell’s wide range of coffee, which is available in 250 g or 1 kg bags, filled (and, if necessary, ground) to order, so there’s no stale stock standing on the shelves.
There’s also plenty of coffee-making equipment, cups, etc, plus a wide selection of teas (loose leaf or tea bags). While not set up as a coffee bar, the staff will happily make you an espresso-based drink of your choice using whatever beans are in the hopper that day. Because of the nature of the operation, it’s disposable cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own.
When asking about speciality coffee in The Wirral, the long peninsular that I can see from my bedroom window every morning which stops North Wales from bumping into Liverpool, one name that consistently comes up is Bebington’s Blooming Skull Coffee. So, when setting off on Monday for a day-trip to The Wirral, it was always going to be my first stop.
Describing itself as a coffee shop and general store, you could be forgiven, on first glance, of thinking that Blooming Skull Coffee’s a coffee shop and florist (it’s not). Blooming Skull is takeaway only (so don’t forget to bring your own cup), although there is a solitary bench outside on the busy Bebington Road. The Penny Rock seasonal single-origin from Red Bank is on espresso, where it’s joined by a guest roaster (Plot Roasting during my visit) on batch brew, plus a range of cakes baked on the premises.
When I popped over to The Wirral last year, I visited Parkgate’s Elephant Lounge. Coffee shop by day, bar by night, Elephant Lounge is part of Elephant Collective, which started life in nearby Neston. On my return to The Wirral last week, this time travelling by train, it was only natural that I hopped off at Neston Station, the first stop (in England) as I headed north on the Borderlands Line. From there, a five-minute stroll down the High Street took me past Elephant Bank (a smokehouse and bar which is the latest addition to the family) to Elephant Coffee, where it all started in 2012.
A more traditional coffee shop, Elephant Coffee occupies a cosy spot on the corner with Chester Road. Three two-person tables line the pavement on the busy street, while inside you’re faced by the counter with limited seating along the front. However, there are plenty more tables around the corner, Elephant Coffee stretching a surprisingly long way back. The coffee offering is based around a bespoke seasonal espresso blend, while if you’re hungry, porridge and various bread-based options are available for breakfast, with bagels and soup for lunch, backed up by a range of cakes.
Last year I made a long overdue day-trip across the Dee Estuary to visit The Wirral and explore its speciality coffee scene, which is when I discovered Wylde Coffee in Heswell. Perhaps more importantly, I discovered that Wylde has an offshoot, called Lateral, in West Kirby, which opened in January 2021, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this week, I popped over to check it out (well, I say “popped over”; visible from my bedroom window, it’s 11 km as the crow flies, but to actually get there requires a 100 km round trip, featuring a bus and two trains each way).
While Wylde Coffee is very much a coffee shop, Lateral is more food-orientated. There are brunch and lunch menus every day until three o’clock, while from Wednesday to Saturday, Lateral reinvents itself as a cocktail bar with a full dinner menu from 17:00 onwards. When it comes to coffee, the offering is very similar to Wylde, with a bespoke house blend and decaf on espresso, roasted by old friends, Neighbourhood Coffee, plus regular guests on batch brew. This is all served up in a bright, modern space, just a short walk south from the train station.
There seems to be something about Chester, speciality coffee and bakeries, which, you could argue, all started with the Jaunty Goat bakery. The third Jaunty Goat, it joins the original on Bridge Street and the vegan Jaunty Goat on Northgate Street. Opening in July last year, the same month as Kookaburra Bakehouse, the pair were then joined by newcomer Fika⁺ in December that year.
The bakery has an interesting location, almost directly across Bridge Street from the original, although it’s completely different, a small spot with a simple counter offering takeout coffee and pastries, with the ovens at the back. You can also buy bread and coffee beans (either loose or in packets). While the bakery only uses disposable cups (so don’t forget to bring your own), there are pair of tables outside on the broad pavement, where you can watch the world go by as you enjoy your coffee.
Chester’s rapidly-expanding speciality coffee scene shows no sign of slowing down, with the latest addition, Fika⁺, opening right at the end of last year. An evolution of micro-bakery Gnome’s Kitchen, which itself only opened in 2020, Fika⁺ occupies a wonderful location near the middle of a short row of buildings on top Chester’s city walls. Right next to The Northgate, part of the city’s original Roman walls which are now almost 2,000 years old, Fika⁺ looks out over the canal, itself a relative newcomer, having opened in 1774.
Fika⁺ is vegan, joining the likes of Jaunty Goat on Northgate Street and the Doughnut Whisperer down in Rufus Court, both a short stroll (and a flight of steps) from Fika⁺. All the bread and cakes are from the micro-bakery in Hoole, made with locally-sourced ingredients wherever possible. The coffee is from Heartland Coffee Roasters, the ubiquitous Landmark blend on espresso plus single-origin options on batch brew and pour-over (V60 or AeroPress), along with tea and hot chocolate.
Since it’s relatively new, Fika⁺ is constantly evolving. For example, this week sees the launch of the concise all-day brunch menu, while there are plans to expand the opening hours, particularly as the days get longer.