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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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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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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Upstairs at Anna’s

No trip to Conwy is complete without a visit to Anna’s Tea Rooms & Coffee House. Okay, so Conwy’s got one of the best examples of King Edward I’s castles, which is a masterpiece of medieval military architecture, the most complete set of medieval walls in Britain and Plas Mawr, a fine, Elizabethan town house. But, but…, it’s also got Anna’s!

Situated above an outdoor shop on Conwy’s Castle Street, a stone’s throw from the castle itself, Anna’s is a complete gem. For a start, it serves coffee by the cafetiere, with 17 different beans to choose from. Tea drinkers are even better served, with 12 black teas, three fruit teas and nine loose-leaf teas. Then there’s the homemade cakes. And the homemade lunches. And the afternoon teas. And the ice-creams, and desserts, and, and, and…

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