The store front of Finca on Great Western Road, Dorchester, the bulbs inside glowing in the fading evening light.Finca is Dorchester’s second speciality coffee shop, coming after the outstanding Number 35 Coffee House & Kitchen. One might think it a little unfair that Dorchester has two such places, when many struggle to have even one, but this is how it is.

Finca opened last summer and joins the select breed of coffee-shop-cum-roaster. While the majority are quite big operations, with 10-15 kg roasters, with their own dedicated area of a large building (North Berwick’s Steampunk Coffee springs to mind), Finca has more in common with Glasgow’s Papercup Coffee Company. Both are small coffee shops which roast on-site and, while in the case of Papercup, the roasting is done at the back, at Finca, the roaster, a bright-red, 1 kg Genesis CBR-1200, sits proudly on the counter-top for all to see.

Finca has a stock of three green beans, two standard and one guest, and it roasts after hours, one or two evenings a week. Roaster aside, Finca is a friendly, neighbourhood coffee shop, although it boasts a decent food offering for such a small place, including cake, soup and toasted sandwiches, all prepared in the small kitchen at the back. It’s even got a dedicated toast menu!

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Number 35 Coffee House & Kitchen

Thumbnail - No 35 Coffee House & Kitchen (DSC_6237h)Number 35 Coffee House & Kitchen, appropriately enough at No 35 on Dorchester’s West High Street, is a gem amongst coffee shops. Run by the very wonderful Toby, it is one of that rare breed where the focus is firmly on the bean, following the lead of the likes of Dublin’s 3FE or the closer Full Court Press (Bristol) and Colonna & Small’s (Bath).

However, it’s not just about the coffee, since Number 35 also lives up to the kitchen part of its name, with food at lunchtimes and, on Friday evenings, a full dinner menu. The coffee shop closes at 3 o’clock on Fridays, re-opening at four as the kitchen. There is, of course, cake throughout the day.

It helps that Number 35 is also a lovely setting. There’s a small front room, which feels in part like an old Victorian shop, with its bay window and high ceilings, plus a quiet, cosy back room. This is long, low and has the bulk of the seating, feeling more like a basement (although it is at ground level).

Last, but not least, Number 35 is dog-friendly, and, as if to prove the point, has a friendly dog.

September 2015: I’m delighted that Number 35 was short-listed for this year’s Lunch Business Awards Best Coffee Experience.

December 2016: Sadly Number 35 closed at the end of the year. The good news is that Toby, the man behind Number 35, is still pulling shots, this time at Dorchester’s Seventh Seal, a Gentleman’s Barber, Apothecary, Clothier and Espresso Bar.

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