The Condor

A lovely espresso in a dark, handleless ceramic cupToday’s Coffee Spot sees us staying in Shrewsbury with what is simultaneously a new name and a familiar face. The Condor is the new name, spiritual successor to English Bridge Coffee, occupying the same space at the end/start of Wyle Cop, next to the English Bridge. The familiar face is Raúl, who has taken the strengths of what went before (excellent, multi-roaster single-origin coffee and a warm welcome) while adding South American street food to the mix (with more than a nod to his Chilean heritage).

There have been other changes since my first visit almost exactly a year ago. Although the basic layout remains the same, the interior has had a make-over, the counter now forming an L-shape in the back, right-hand corner. This has simultaneously added a new seating area on the left-hand side while also seeming to give Raúl more space behind the counter, which is a neat trick. There have been changes on the coffee side as well. While remaining true to the ideal of being a multi-roaster, serving the best single-origin coffee from around the country, Raúl has added batch-brew filter and V60 pour-overs to the espresso-only menu that I remember from my original visit.

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The front of Pont as seen from the south side of Wyle Cop in Shrewsbury. The open door is on the right with two windows to the left, while in front of those, on the recessed, tiled threshold, is a classic two-person round table, Pont's only seating.Much has changed in Shrewsbury’s speciality coffee scene since my previous visit almost exactly a year ago, including the closure of The Colonel’s Son and the evolution of The Condor/English Bridge Coffee. Into this mix comes the latest addition, Pont, on Wyle Cop, a lovely little bakery, which opened two months ago, specialising in patisserie.

Pont’s owner, Lauren, can be found in the bakery behind the counter from the small hours of the morning onwards, where she and her team turn out an array of pastries, cakes and a limited selection of loaves and sandwiches. There’s also coffee, from old friends Hundred House Coffee, whose Bon Bon blend and Colombian decaf are available via a concise, espresso-based menu. Although primarily serving the to-go market (so don’t forget to bring your own cup), Pont has an outside table for two in front of the window to the left of the door.

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CSONS Shrewsbury

The CSONS logo, the letters "CSONS" written in blue (with the C in yellow) inside two concentric blue circles.CSONS has been a fixture of Shrewsbury’s coffee scene since 2015, when it opened as a coffee shop, serving primarily coffee and cakes. Since then, it’s evolved into a full-service restaurant and has opened a second location down the A49 in Ludlow. CSONS came to my attention through Hundred House Coffee, which provides CSONS’ bespoke house blend, available through a standard, espresso-based menu along with Hundred House’s regular decaf. There’s also tea from Hereford’s Trumpers Tea and a fully-stocked bar with local beers, cider and cocktails.

When it comes to food, CSONS has separate menus for breakfast (to 11:30), lunch (12:00 – 15:00) and dinner (15:00 onwards on Friday/Saturday only). The food is innovative, ranging from breakfast standards through to small plates for lunch/dinner so that you can mix-and-match your way through the menu (large plates are also available if you just want a regular meal!). You’re also welcome to pop in for coffee and cake (available all day).

All of this is served in a lovely space which occupies the ground floor of an old building on Milk Street. The seating is spread across multiple rooms, including a large, sheltered courtyard at the back if you want to sit outside.

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English Bridge Coffee (Nomad Coffee Co.)

The distinctive HuskeeCup with its ribbed sides, but only 3oz in capacity, holding my espresso at Nomad Coffee Co.For many, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of retrenchment or consolidation. Not so in Shrewsbury, where its small but vibrant speciality coffee scene has flourished with the opening of both The Colonel’s Son Coffee Roasters and today’s Coffee Spot, Nomad Coffee Co. Both were on my list before I made my daytrip a week ago today, but in fairness to Nomad, everyone I asked said that I must pay Raúl (the co-owner and head barista) a visit.

Located at the start of Wyle Cop on the western end of the English Bridge, Nomad is small, but around twice the size of The Colonel’s Son (which isn’t saying much!). The counter is at the back, leaving space for a bench/table down the right-hand wall and a five-person window-bar along the front. Nomad is a multi-roaster, serving single-origins on espresso, with two different roasters featuring each fortnight. Although the coffee’s the star turn, I was also entertained by conversations between Raúl and a succession of regulars who’d come as much for a chat as coffee.

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The Colonel’s Son Coffee Roasters

Details from the wooden A-board outside The Colonel’s Son Coffee Roasters in Shrewsbury, showing stylised line drawings of a rank of soldiers on parade.The Colonel’s Son Coffee Roasters opened just after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, temporarily closed in September last year, then re-opened following a makeover in May 2022, since when it’s been going from strength to strength. On Meadow Place, a very short walk from Shrewsbury Station, there’s not a lot to The Colonel’s Son, just a small shop with a window-bar at the front, the counter in the middle and the roaster at the back. Oh, and a bench outside, in case the four seats inside are taken.

The Colonel’s Son is run by Patch, who is indeed the son of a Colonel, his father having served with the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars. It’s very much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get sort of place, with a standard espresso-based menu (served in proper cups, I’m pleased to say) and a choice of a medium or dark roast blend. There’s a wider selection of coffee for sale in retail bags, including some lighter roasted single-origins, roasted fresh each Monday, along with a small range of cakes.

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The Bird’s Nest

A classic espresso in a red cup on a green saucer.Another Shrewsbury gem, I discovered The Bird’s Nest thanks to the talented Cherie Jerrard. I’d come to see Cherie Did This, an exhibition of Cherie’s fascinating café illustrations at the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse. Afterwards, we met up for another tour of some of Cherie’s favourite Shrewsbury coffee shops.

The Bird’s Nest is in Shrewsbury’s Market Hall, which was built in 1965 (making it slightly older than me!) and is out of keeping with everything around it. However, its unappealing concrete exterior hides a delightful interior, particularly when you get to the back of the second floor, which is where you’ll find The Bird’s Nest, surrounded by market stalls.

It’s an interesting space, full of an eclectic mix of furniture. If I said it felt a little like sitting in a vintage store, I’d mean it in a nice way. The layout’s wonderfully confusing, with the kitchen in one corner, the coffee counter in the opposite corner and various other bits and pieces scattered around the edges. Not that any of this matters since there’s full table service. There’s a fairly standard espresso menu based around the Bon Bon blend from Hundred House, bags of cake and, if you don’t arrive after the kitchen’s closed, full breakfast and lunch menus.

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Cherie Did This: Shrewsbury Coffeehouse

A self-portrait by the talented Cherie Jerrard, entitled "Me - Crosslegged"I first met Cherie Jerrard at last year’s Cup North, although we had corresponded beforehand over a period of a couple of months. Cherie is a talented illustrator who has turned her hand to capturing scenes of every day café culture. I find her work endlessly fascinating and very much a contrast to what I do with my photo galleries, although we each, in our own ways, try to tell a story.

I am a very literal photographer: I tend to take pictures to show you what something looks like. Cherie goes one step further with her work; in a single illustration, she captures multiple aspects of a scene. I appreciate this isn’t a great description of what Cherie does, but if it was easy to describe, she wouldn’t have to go to all the trouble of drawing it…

I’ve been following Cherie on social media for the last few months, admiring her work on twitter, Instagram and on her blog, but I’d never seen the works in the flesh so to speak. So, when Cherie arranged to have her work exhibited at the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse, I knew I had to take a look in person…

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Ginger & Co. Coffee

A stylised outline of a cup in orange paint, with the words "est. 2015" underneath.Shrewsbury’s speciality coffee scene has come a long way since I visited in September 2013, when the delightful Shrewsbury Coffeehouse was the only game in town. Since then there have been several notable newcomers, particularly in 2015, when today’s Coffee Spot, Ginger & Co. Coffee, opened its doors on Princess Street. I am, by the way, indebted to the talented Cherie Jerrard (if you haven’t seen her coffee shop sketches, you should definitely check them out), both for the invitation to make a return visit Shrewsbury and for drawing my attention to Ginger & Co.

Ginger & Co. sits on the ground floor of a lovely old building, occupying an L-shaped space, with seating at the front and the counter along the top part of the L. Beyond this, up a couple of steps and through a narrow doorway, is the back room, a long, thin space, flooded with natural light from the transparent ceiling.

Ginger & Co. has a standard espresso-based menu, plus a single-origin on pour-over from Herefordshire’s Method Roastery. This is supplemented by loose-leaf tea from Brew Tea Co, along with an interesting selection of sandwiches and cakes, all prepared in the “espresso-sized” kitchen at the back.

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Shrewsbury Coffeehouse

An exceptional Has Bean espresso in a classic white cup from the Shrewsbury Coffee HouseClose enough to Shrewsbury Station to be worth running out for a quick visit when changing trains, the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse is a delightful place. In fact, it’s so delightful, it’s worth making sure you have about an hour between trains so you can pay it a proper visit!

Many things mark the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse as something special, starting with the friendly, welcoming staff who add so much to the atmosphere. Then there’s the space itself, bright and airy, with lots of seating options and a cosy basement for those winter days when you just want to spend all snuggling up with a cup of coffee.

Which brings me to the main point of a coffeehouse, the coffee. The Shrewsbury Coffeehouse serves Has Bean. Oh well, I thought to myself, can’t have everything. Except… I really liked the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse’s house blend. That was two Has Bean espressos I liked in the space of a week! What’s the world coming to? As well as the house blend, the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse does single origin Sundays, showcasing Has Bean’s extensive range.

After all that, I had to have a slice of cake to calm me down. And excellent cake it was too!

January 2016: the talented Cherie Jerrard is displaying some of her excellent cafe illustrations at the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse until the end of February. Pop along and have a look if you can, or take a look at my pictures at the end of the gallery. You can also read a little piece that Cherie wrote about the exhibition and see what I made of it in the Saturday Supplement.

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