Laynes Espresso (Original)

A flat white and two slices of sour dough toast for breakfast at Laynes Espresso. Plus jam in a glass!The original Laynes Espresso, which has been serving fine Square Mile coffee to the folks of Leeds since 2011, has a great location for the traveller: just around the corner from Leeds Station. It’s sufficiently close that if you have any sort of wait between trains, you can nip out for a quick coffee.

It’s a small spot, the upstairs being dominated by the counter, with a couple of tables opposite and a bar in the window. A small basement doubles the available eating, but even so I doubt you could squeeze more than about 20 people in, with maybe another four outside. For more space, try Laynes’ concession in Belgrave Music Hall.

I visited twice, both times for breakfast, since it was just as conveniently located for my hotel as for the station and has the advantage of being open from seven o’clock in the morning.  As well as a small breakfast menu (there was toast; therefore I was happy) there are sandwiches from 12 o’clock and an abundance of cake all day long.

For such a small place, there’s an excellent coffee menu, with espresso being supplemented with pour-over filter and a selection of loose-leaf plus Yorkshire Tea.

October 2017: I’ve updated my piece on Laynes Espresso. This is the original write-up, published in October 2014. For an up-to-date description, please see the updated post, while you can see what’s changed in my Coffee Spot Update.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Laynes Espresso, cutting a striking figure on New Station Street.
  • A closer look at the outside seating options.
  • Stepping inside, upstairs is dominated by the counter, which is ahead of you on the left.
  • Immediately to your left, the window-bar...
  • ... while to your right is this, one of two high-tables opposite the counter.
  • At the far end, the takeaway counter/water station is in front of the stairs to the basement.
  • At the bottom of the stairs is a four-seat bar.
  • The view from the main basement seating area back towards the stairs. Check out the floor!
  • Looking 90 degrees to the right, the main seating area.
  • And another view. The bench, plus cushions, runs around two of the walls.
  • The books and magazines are a nice touch. There are more in the corridor.
  • The two-person table in the corner.
  • I was very taken by the little milk bottles.
  • Some of the artwork which adorns the basement walls.
  • Some more of the basement artwork.
  • There's also this fellow.
  • And this... Hey! I recognise that coffee shop!
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot (basement).
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot (upstairs).
  • Talking of upstairs, the floor up here is just as good!
  • So, to business. The cakes & pastries, including the interestingly-named Morning Cake.
  • Presumably, these are the afternoon cakes?
  • For such a small space, there's a lot going on: pour-over filter, for example...
  • ... and, in the other corner, loose-leaf tea.
  • There are also soft drinks available.
  • The food and drinks menus.
  • I went for a flat white to start my day from the Synessso...
  • ... and some toast from the toaster.
  • And here it all is...
  • ... and the flat white in more detail.
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Laynes Espresso cuts a pretty striking figure on New Station Street, a bright red square of coffee goodness in an otherwise fairly plain row of shop fronts at street level of a three-storey brick-building. It’s not terribly big, just wide enough for a two-person bench flanked by a pair of chairs and a potted plant. The door is on the right, with the rest of the store-front taken up with two square windows.

Stepping inside, there’s a window-bar immediately to your left and two high-tables straight in front of you, but that’s about it for seating on this level. Opposite the high tables, occupying almost all of the left-hand wall, is the counter, while at the back, on the right, stairs lead down to the basement. Upstairs, Laynes is about twice as deep as it is wide, while the basement occupies a similar footprint, although a storeroom immediately at the bottom of the stairs robs it of quite a large amount of space. As a result, the basement is L-shaped, the stairs depositing you at the top of the ‘L’, which runs away to your left.  Directly opposite you is a low bar with four chairs, while the bulk of the seating is in the bottom of the ‘L’, where a padded bench runs around two of the walls, with two four-person tables and one two-person table.

The two spaces have very different characters, although both share beautiful stone-flagged floors that I’d happily have taken with me and re-laid in my kitchen! I prefer the upstairs, with its natural light and bustle, although the basement has its charm and can be a useful escape if you need somewhere quiet for a quick business meeting or just a place to collect your thoughts. Laynes is not laptop/smartphone-junky heaven by the way: there’s no power or Wifi, but (something that’s rather rare these days) there is a large selection of books and magazines in a rack next to the bar in the basement. The basement, which has plain, whitewashed walls and ceilings, is also adorned with some very interesting works of art, while upstairs, it’s mostly bare brick and wood.

Laynes experiences something of a breakfast/commuter rush first thing in the morning, which remarkably stops at nine o’clock, when it empties in the space of five minutes. I mention this largely because it’s extremely rare that I’m in a coffee shop at that time of the morning to experience these things!

So, turning to the food/coffee. The breakfast menu is fairly limited: pastries, muesli, toast and that sort of thing. However, I am a toast-fiend, so I was happy. And what toast it was! Fine, crunchy, sour dough toast, full of flavour and texture, smothered (by me) with butter and topped with jam… It was so good, I came back for a second helping the following day, and it was just as good second time around.

The coffee is Square Mile’s Red Brick seasonal blend on espresso, which is not my favourite, but I have to say that Laynes served me two of the better Red Bricks I’ve had in a while. I had flat whites both times and the coffee went very well with the milk, a really sweet combination that was just what I needed first thing in the morning!

16 NEW STATION STREET • LEEDS • LS1 5DL +44 (0) 7828 823189
Monday 07:00 – 19:00 Roaster Square Mile (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 19:00 Seating Tables, Bars (upstairs/basement), Bench/Chairs (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 19:00 Food Breakfast, Sandwiches, Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 19:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 19:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa (£5 minimum)
Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 Wifi No
Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 Power No
Chain Local Visits Original: 19th/20th June 2014, 20th May 2016
Update: 26th/28th August 2017

Liked this Coffee Spot? Then check out the rest of Leeds’ speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Leeds.

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