Joe Coffee is a well-established name in New York City speciality coffee circles, having opened its first coffee shop in the West Village in 2003. Since then, its opened more than 20 other locations in and around Manhattan, including a dedicated roastery/café in Long Island City. However, despite this proliferation, I’d not managed to pay Joe a visit until I stayed in Midtown for work last September, when I suddenly had several within easy walking distance of my office and hotel.
I ended up visiting two Joe Coffee locations, one on Union Square and the other, the Joe Coffee Pro Shop on W 21st Street, which is the subject of today’s Coffee Spot. This is something of a flagship store for Joe Coffee, a range of single-origins on espresso, pour-over (V60, Kalita Wave and AeroPress) and cold-brew joining the standard offering of the seasonal Waverly espresso blend, Nightcap decaf and batch brew filter. There’s also a rotating guest roaster (Broadsheet from Somerville, Massachusetts, during my visit). The Pro Shop offers a small grab-and-go range, along with cakes and pastries, all served from a neat little space with a handful of stools inside and a solitary bench outside on the pavement.
On my way home after my trip to Amsterdam in March, I spent a quiet week visiting friends in Ghent. It was very low key, but I did wander around the city centre a few times and, naturally, I checked out the local coffee scene with the help of European Coffee Trip. While I didn’t have time to explore as much as I would have liked, I found myself drawn to Way on Voldersstraat, right in the heart of the old city.
Way is a roaster with three very different coffee shops in the city. The one on Voldersstraat is an interesting place, serving takeaway coffee (but with outside seating) while also acting as a retail shop, selling both beans and home coffee equipment. And to cap it all, there’s a bookshop upstairs, with an eclectic collection, centred around coffee and sustainable living.
When it comes to the coffee, there are two single-origins on espresso, with all the shots pulled on a Modbar system. There are also multiple single-origins on pour-over, Way using the Modbar automated system with the V60. Finally, there’s a selection of cakes and pastries, all baked in-house with the added twist that Way is entirely plant-based/vegan.
Now that London is no longer on my doorstep, I don’t visit as often as I once did, so when I was passing through two weeks ago, I took the opportunity to head to Spitalfields in East London to catch up with a familiar name in a new setting. Potter & Reid occupies two rooms on the west side of Toynbee Street. You’ll find the counter and a limited amount of seating on the right-hand side, while the bulk of the seating is to the left, along with a bench and tables on the pavement outside.
Although the coffee shop is new, having opened at the start of last year, the names Potter & Reid are familiar to the London coffee scene, the pair having met in the Allpress café around the corner on Redchurch Street in 2010. Unsurprisingly, you’ll find the ubiquitous Allpress blend at the heart of the espresso menu, backed up by a guest roaster on batch-brew filter. There’s a strong retail offering, featuring a pair of guest roasters, and, unusually, there’s also wine/beer on the menu. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there are separate breakfast/lunch menus from chef Eleni Thoma, along with a range of cakes and pastries.
Although no longer a resident, I’m still very interested in Guildford’s speciality coffee scene. I was therefore sad to learn in March that an old favourite, Koja Coffee, had closed after a tumultuous year which saw it move from its original home on Jeffries Passage to New House, a recently-opened space for artists and creatives. However, every cloud has a silver lining and in May I was delighted to learn from Ben Barker that Frida’s Coffee House had opened in Koja’s place. Naturally, I visited the next time I was in Guildford.
If you were familiar with Koja, the set up is very similar, Frida’s occupying a counter inside the lobby to New House. There’s a similar offering too, with the Nom Nom blend from Hundred House along with Perky Blenders’ decaf on espresso, while Hundred House also supplies two single-origins, available as pour-overs through the V60. One change is that Frida’s offers a small range of toasted panini and savoury croissants, plus vegan sausage rolls and the usual selection of cakes/pastries.
Today’s Coffee Spot sees us move from Brisbane to Melbourne, although technically we’re in the suburbs, in Nunawading, home to Manta Ray Coffee Roasters. I first became aware of Manta Ray when I visited Pinhole Coffee Bar in Singapore, where Manta Ray was the guest roaster. Then, when I reached Melbourne, I found that Manta Ray topped many people’s must-visit lists. Since I had a hire car for my drive along the Great Ocean Road, I decided to make a two-hour round trip to the east of Melbourne to visit Manta Ray before I set off.
Manta Ray Coffee Roasters, as the name suggests, is both roastery and coffee bar. Although Manta Ray has been roasting for a while, the coffee bar has only been open since October 2022. Despite this, it’s already become a place of pilgrimage for Melbourne’s speciality coffee community. There are two blends on espresso, along with five single-origins on pour-over and some interesting cold coffee options. Naturally, all the coffee is available to buy in retail bags, and while this is rightly the main draw, if you’re hungry, there’s a wide range of cakes and pastries, along with a smaller selection of savoury pastries.
Moving on from 3 Little Birds Espresso, Airlie Beach and the Queensland Coast, Amanda and I headed south to Brisbane for a few days. This was mostly spent catching up with friends, but we did find time for one Coffee Spot. Foster & Black was a new name to me, a chance discovery when I spotted its kiosk in The Myer Centre in Brisbane’s Central Business District. Although we only had time for a quick flat white, the barista told us about the coffee shop/roastery in Fortitude Valley, so we made time to pay it a visit on Saturday morning.
A relatively new addition to Brisbane’s speciality coffee scene, the minimalist coffee bar only opened in 2021, fronting a large, open warehouse-like space. This is home to Foster & Black’s Loring coffee roaster, its green bean storage and its production area, all separated from the coffee bar by a wall of windows running the full width of the building. There’s a range of seating options, but the real draw is the coffee, with a house-blend on espresso, plus three single-origins available on espresso, batch brew and pour-over. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a small selection of cakes and pastries.
When Amanda and I began our trip to Australia, we didn’t head for the coffee hotspots of Melbourne or Sydney, but instead found ourselves in Airlie Beach on the Queensland coast, 1,000 km north of Brisbane. Known as the gateway to the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef, we’d come for the natural beauty rather than the coffee, so you can imagine my surprise when, strolling along the main street on our first evening there, I spotted a Slayer espresso machine in a window.
The Slayer in question belongs to 3 Little Birds Espresso, which combines coffee, art and gifts. Opened in November 2021 by Tracey, Joan and Pauline, it’s a friendly spot which showcases locally made products and produce across two linked spaces. 3 Little Birds offers a simple, espresso-based menu with the coffee coming from Queensland roaster, Ground Control. There’s also a selection of tea and hot chocolate, along with various shakes and smoothies. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there are toasties and wraps, plus cakes, muffins and tarts for those with a sweet tooth.
My limited tour of Singapore’s speciality coffee scene has reached Fahrenheit Coffee, which, during my week in Singapore, was my third home-from-home, along with Narrative Coffee Stand and Pinhole Coffee Bar. Located on Beach Road, one block over from my hotel, I had my first speciality coffee in Singapore at Fahrenheit, while I was also a frequent visitor during the week, often calling in before the start of my meeting for a post-breakfast flat white.
Fahrenheit Coffee is in the lobby of the Spa Club, although it might be more accurate to say that Fahrenheit Coffee is the lobby. A broad, glass-fronted space, there’s a range of seating in the air-conditioned interior, while you can also sit outside at a pair of narrow tables on a shaded section of pavement, well set back from the road.
Fahrenheit offers a standard espresso-based menu, with a selection of single-origins on pour-over through the V60, all roasted by sister company, Community Coffee. If you’re hungry, there’s a selection of cakes and desserts, along with a limited breakfast menu.
Continuing my limited tour of Singapore’s speciality coffee scene, we have Pinhole Coffee Bar, which, along with Narrative Coffee Stand and Fahrenheit Coffee, was my home-from-home during my week in Singapore last month. Located on Purvis Street, it’s arguably closer to my hotel than Narrative, but I needed to cross the busy North Bridge Road to get there, so it took me longer. As a result, I visited (only slightly) less frequently.
Pinhole Coffee Bar is a relatively new addition to Singapore’s speciality coffee scene, having opened in November 2021. Long and thin, there’s a range of seating in the air-conditioned interior, including a bench along the right-hand wall, stools at the counter and a communal table tucked away at the back. You can also sit outside on a semi-shaded patio area at the front.
Typically Pinhole has a blend and single-origin on espresso, with anything up to six single-origins on pour-over through the V60. The coffee’s drawn from local Singapore roasters, Cata Coffee and Flip Coffee Roasters, which are joined on pour-over by a rotating guest roaster from further afield (Manta Ray Coffee Roasters from Melbourne during my visit). Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a small selection of cakes.
Last month I spent a week in Singapore and, while not having much time to explore its fantastic speciality coffee scene, I did have the pleasure of visiting some excellent coffee shops. In particular, the trio of Fahrenheit Coffee, Pinhole Coffee Bar and today’s Coffee Spot, Narrative Coffee Stand, were all under five minutes’ walk from my workplace, making them natural homes-from-home during my visit.
Narrative Coffee Stand, on the ground floor of the Bras Basah Complex, is a relatively simple space, with limited seating in the air-conditioned interior or outside, where a handful of benches and stools are thankfully well shaded. However, the best seats in the house are, in my opinion, the two stools at the counter, where you can sit and watch your coffee being made.
Talking of which, the coffee, which is all roasted in-house, is the main draw. A typical offering consists of three single-origins on espresso and another three on pour-over through the V60. Naturally, given the climate, all are available iced as well as hot, along with a small collection of cakes if you are hungry. I visited every day during my week in Singapore, enabling me to try all six coffees on offer.