Small Batch, Goldstone Villas

The classic Goldstone espresso blend in a classic Small Batch Coffee espresso cup, served at the Goldstone Villas branch, the original Small Batch Coffee espresso bar & roastery.Small Batch Coffee has been a cornerstone of Brighton & Hove’s speciality coffee scene for many years. Currently there are seven outlets in Brighton & Hove itself, including two carts (one at Brighton Station, the other at Hove Station), a new roastery in Portslade and the latest branch, just along the coast in Worthing. I’ve always been Small Batch fan, so it’s a bit odd that that I’ve only written up the Norfolk Square branch, and that was four years ago! So, on my return to Brighton at the end of last year, I made a Small Batch visit a priority and where better than where it all started, the original roastery/espresso bar at Goldstone Villas?

These days, of course, the roastery is no more, having moved out in September 2017. Instead, you effectively get two coffee shops in one, the old roastery having been converted into the Workspace, designed to attract remote workers, although anyone is welcome to use it. The offering is the same in both: a standard espresso menu using the Goldstone house-blend (or decaf if you prefer), plus a daily option on batch-brew. If you’re hungry, there are pre-prepared sandwiches and cake, with doughnuts on Saturday.

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Shoreditch Grind

The Shoreditch Grind logo, written on the wall of Shoreditch Grind.Shoreditch Grind is where London’s rapidly-expanding Grind chain (to-date, six, with a seventh coming next month) began in 2011, on the north side of London’s famous Old Street roundabout. In true Coffee Spot fashion, I’d already visited a couple of the other Grinds (the now-closed Piccadilly Grind and the still-going-strong Soho Grind). With that in mind, I decided it’s about time the Coffee Spot features the Grind mother-ship…

Although all the Grinds are different in terms of layout and atmosphere, this is the (successful) template that all the other Grinds follow, establishing the now-familiar formula of coffee by day and cocktails by night, along with an impressive (and evolving) food offering. This includes a full breakfast menu (served, as it should be, until three in the afternoon), sandwiches, cake and, in the evenings, small plates and more recently, pizza.

Grind will be roasting its own coffee in the near future, but for now Hove’s Small Batch fulfils that role, roasting the bespoke, seasonal house-blend (used in milk drinks), single-origin (used for espresso & short/long blacks) and the decaf, which all grace Grind’s espresso machines. There’s also Sandow’s cold brew on tap and a well-stocked bar for those evening cocktails.

January/May 2017: Grind is now roasting its own coffee. You can see what I made of it at London Grind (January) and Exmouth Market Grind (May).

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Small Batch, Norfolk Square

The Small Batch Logo: two gentlemen on a tandem, one holding a coffee pot, the other a mug. Above is written "DRINK SMALL BATCH COFFEE" and below "It's good for what ails you".Given that I’ve written about both Small Batch’s coffee and about places serving Small Batch, I thought it about time that I wrote about Small Batch itself. For those who don’t know, Small Batch is a well-established and well-respected roaster and coffee shop chain in Brighton & Hove, which I covered on one of my first assignments for Caffeine Magazine. In all, there are four Small Batch coffee shops in Brighton and Hove, with coffee stalls at both Brighton and Hove stations, and a roastery/café in Hove. Naturally, this being the Coffee Spot, I started at the end, not the beginning, visiting the newest Small Batch of all, the Norfolk Square branch.

On the busy Western Road, between Brighton and Hove, this might be the most beautiful of all the Small Batches. Located in an old bank branch, it is an elegant, bright, high-ceilinged space, enhanced by an island counter that subtly dominates the room. There’s a range of seating, including at the counter itself, where you can watch the espresso machine in action or marvel at the brew bar on the opposite side. You can also sit outside if you wish.

And, of course, there’s Small Batch’s excellent coffee.

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Soho Grind

The Soho Grind logo from the back wall of Soho Grind: the word Soho written in black script over GRIND in red capitals.Grind, which started with the original Shoreditch Grind, is a growing London chain of espresso bars by day and cocktail bars by night. Soho Grind was the second, and has since been joined by four others. For six months last summer, there was also the pop-up Piccadilly Grind, the only one I’d visited up until now.

Soho Grind’s a lovely spot: a long, narrow espresso bar upstairs and, in the evenings, a cosy basement which serves as cocktail bar/restaurant with full table service. There’s coffee, Grind’s own bespoke espresso blend, roasted down in Hove by the excellent Small Batch, plus tea and soft drinks. In the evening, there’s wine, a small selection of bottled beer, and cocktails, including a very fine Espresso Martini, one of the few alcoholic drinks I actually enjoy.

In keeping with its siblings, Soho Grind has a small range of (very good) cakes and sandwiches during the day, and a menu of small plates with an Italian theme in the evening. These are tasty, but not particularly filling. I had an excellent crostini with roasted red peppers, rocket and shaved pecorino, which I supplemented with some very moor-ish toasted almonds from the nibbles menu.

January/May 2017: Grind is now roasting its own coffee. You can see what I made of it at London Grind (January) and Exmouth Market Grind (May).

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The front of Finisterre, with a three-part window, part-glazed door to the right. There is bench on the pavement in front of the window and an A-board next to the door.Finisterre is a surf shop, a surf shop which, for the last four months, has been home to a lovely little espresso bar. Tucked away on Earlham Street, between the busy Seven Dials and the even busier Cambridge Circus at the intersection of Charing Cross Road and Shaftsbury Avenue, it’s a haven of tranquillity and excellent coffee. Supplied by Brighton’s Small Batch, Finisterre doesn’t try to do too much, instead concentrating on serving top-notch espresso in a lovely environment, something which it does exceedingly well. The coffee menu is concise and to the point, with Finisterre making good use of Small Batch’s versatile Goldstone Blend.

There’s not a lot to Finisterre, although that statement holds true only if you’re looking at it as a coffee shop, which is a little unfair. Finisterre is also the flagship London branch of the Finisterre surf chain and, as a surf shop, there’s quite a lot to it. That said, the coffee shop has definitely got pride of place (and the best spot), sat in the front of the store and occupying the window, with a convenient bench outside on the quiet street.

May 2018: I’ve recently learnt that Finisterre is no longer doing coffee, although there are plans to reintroduce filter coffee, so watch this space.

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Piccadilly Grind

The Piccadilly Grind sign painted on the back wall above the bench.Piccadilly Grind is, as far as I know, unique, being the only coffee shop inside a London tube station. There might be others in the outer zones, but this is certainly the only one in a Zone 1 station. It’s an unexpected setting, but certainly a welcome one, meaning you can get great coffee on the go from seven in the morning until ten at night (nine until eight at weekends). Hopefully we will see more of this sort of thing in the future!

Tucked into literally a hole in the wall on the main concourse, it blends in well with its surroundings. Despite its relatively small size, Piccadilly Grind is anything but a small coffee shop in its outlook. It’s even got seating, power and free (sort of) Wifi. The only thing that it doesn’t do at the moment is pour-over. Other than that, there’s a comprehensive espresso menu (house-blend and decaf, both roasted by Brighton’s Small Batch), tea from Tea Pigs and an impressively wide ranges of soft drinks, pastries/cakes and (at lunchtime) sandwiches.

You can either order your coffee to go or sit down on the bench and, in the quieter moments, chat with the baristas.

November 2014: Sadly Piccadilly Grind is no more. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, it was always intended to be a six month pop-up, and closed at the start of the month.

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