Heartland Coffee Bar

The Los Nogales, a naturally-processed single-origin from El Salvador, roasted and served as a cortado by Heartland Coffee Roasters.Heartland Coffee Roasters is a pioneer of the North Wales speciality coffee scene, having moved to Llandudno in 2012. The roastery has its own Meet the Roaster feature, while today’s Coffee Spot focuses on the coffee bar within the roastery. I say “coffee bar” and not “coffee shop” because while there are many roastery/coffee shops, there are few coffee bars like the one in Heartland Coffee.

The idea is not to replicate the coffee shop experience, where Heartland would be in competition with its wholesale customers, such as Providero. Instead, the coffee bar provides a more interactive setting, one which can showcase the full range of Heartland’s output while allowing the customers to discover more about the coffee. In this respect, it reminded me of the Single O Tasting Bar in Tokyo, or the coffee bar at Fuglen Coffee Roasters, which has now sadly closed. Another example which springs to mind is 111 Roasting Works’ Tasting Room in Flagstaff, also sadly closed.

That said, you can always just pop in for a cup of coffee (or some tea) if you want, without having the full interactive experience, sitting at the counter, or upstairs in the mezzanine area overlooking the roastery.

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Meet the Roaster: Heartland Coffee Roasters

The Heartland Coffee Roasters logo, from one of its bags of coffee, showing the sun setting behind the mountains of North Wales.When it comes to the story of speciality coffee in North Wales, you have to start with Heartland Coffee Roasters. I first came across Heartland four years ago at Providero in Llandudno Junction, but I was somewhat late to the game, with the company’s roots going back to the year 2000 when founders Mal (Australia) & Tara (New Zealand) arrived in London from New Zealand. Initially roasting coffee in their kitchen, they set up in business in 2005 and then, in 2012, moved to Llandudno, when Heartland was born.

These days Heartland is a regional powerhouse, with a pair of Coffee-tech roasters turning out the crowd-pleasing Landmark espresso blend and its decaf counterpart, along with Samba, a regional blend from Brazil, and a cast of seasonal single-origins (seven at the time of writing). These are supplied to coffee shops across North Wales (and beyond), as well as being available on-line and for pick-up at the roastery, where Heartland has a coffee bar (which features in its own Coffee Spot).

However, as much as Heartland is about coffee, it’s also about relationships: relationships with coffee famers, with coffee shops and with coffee drinkers, all with the aim of raising expectations.

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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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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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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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Caffeina Coffi

A shot of the Mayni coffee, served as an espresso in a classic white cup at Caffeina Coffi.If you are used to travelling to/through North Wales on the A55 expressway, Prestatyn is one of many places you’ll bypass, probably without even noticing. Despite growing up nearby, it’s not somewhere I have visited very often, even though it’s just one stop further on along the North Wales line from my regular station. However, with the opening of Caffeina Coffi in June this year, I sense that this is going to change. Located on the High Street, a short stroll from both bus and train stations, and with plentiful free parking nearby, there really is no reason not to visit. You can sit outside in the shade of nearby trees, or inside in the minimalist interior.

When it comes to coffee, Caffeina Coffi serves a Peruvian single-origin from Easy José, with a guest espresso from Heartland Coffee Roasters, all the shots pulled on a brand new Victoria Arduino Eagle One (the first, I believe, in North Wales). There are also plans for pour-over in due course, while Caffeina Coffi offers a range of loose leaf tea and a series of iced special drinks. If you’re hungry, there’s a concise brunch menu, backed up by a small selection of (excellent) cakes.

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Travels with my Coffee: North Wales 2021

My Global WAKEcup looks east along Llyn Ogwen in Snowdonia on a sunny Sunday in September.As you’re probably aware, Travels with my Coffee follows me and my coffee around various photogenic parts of the world. Typically these are non-UK locations (the previous one was Iceland, from July this year), but last weekend (and this) Amanda and I have been travelling around North Wales and, unsurprisingly, our coffee has been coming with us.

This is Amanda’s first time west of Holywell, the small town where I was born and grew up, so while (almost) everything is familiar to me, it’s all new to Amanda, who has been delighted with both the scenery and the history. For my part, I never tire of exploring North Wales, although this is the first time I’ve been this way for many years, so you’re going to be seeing a few bonus North Wales Coffee Spots.

When I wasn’t playing tour guide, I was busy taking photographs of my coffee, mostly my Global WAKECup, although my HuskeeCup also had a day out (other reusable cups are available). This was partly because it was Zero Waste Week (which ended yesterday) and, to mark the occasion, the Coffee Spot and Global WAKEcup are running a giveaway (details at the end of the post).

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Caffi Caban

One of the cabins, known as Cwch Gwenyn (The Hive), in the garden at the back of Caffi Caban.North Wales, particularly Snowdonia, is blessed with many things, including outstanding scenery. However, great coffee has been rather thin on the ground, although in recent years, things have been improving rapidly, led in part by local roasters such as Llandudno’s Heartland Coffee Roasters and Poblado Coffi, roasting in Snowdonia itself, who both feature in today’s Coffee Spot, Caffi Caban.

Rather embarrassingly for me, Caffi Caban has only recently come to my attention, despite having opened in 2009! It’s an amazing spot, occupying the rear half of the Brynrefail Enterprise Workshops in Snowdonia. The large, curved interior, which has the majority of the tables next to the windows, overlooks an even larger outside seating area, where multi-level wooden terraces descend to a grassy expanse.

Turning to coffee, Poblado Coffi provides a house blend and decaf, while the guest espresso, which changes every week or two, is usually from Heartland or Poblado. All the shots are ground on Victoria Arduino Mythos grinders and pulled on a Black Eagle. If you don’t fancy coffee, there’s tea, beer, cider and wine, plus a selection of Welsh gin and spirits. Finally, Caffi Caban has separate breakfast and lunch menus, plus plenty of cake, all baked onsite.

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Riverbanc

My Vegetarian Stacked breakfast at the Riverbanc in Llangollen: egg, halloumi, mushrooms, croquette, beans and seeded toast (plus an extra slice).Although it was Sam’s Coffee that brought me to Llangollen at the end of May, while I was doing my research, I quickly discovered that Sam wasn’t the only game in town when it came to speciality coffee. Literally across the road from Sam’s Coffee is Riverbanc, which started life as an outdoor activity centre before moving into the old Midland Bank building, in the process adding a speciality coffee shop and small hotel to its portfolio.

The coffee shop occupies the left-hand side of the ground floor of the three-storey building, with a modest, L-shaped seating area which wraps around the counter. As pleasant as the interior is, sitting inside means you miss out on the best part of Riverbanc, the expansive decking at the rear of the building, which is built out high above the bank of the River Dee.

When it comes to coffee, Riverbanc uses Has Bean, offering the reliable Jailbreak blend on espresso, along with a single-origin guest, plus decaf. There’s also loose-leaf tea, hot chocolate, various flavoured lattes and iced frappes, plus bottled beer and wine. If you’re hungry, Riverbanc has contemporary breakfast and brunch menus, plus plenty of cake to keep you going.

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