Written by Alex. Two weeks ago.
This is one of the few weeks that you will hear me proclaim, wholeheartedly, that I love my job. Yes the cynics among you have probably guessed that this week has been the start of my half term. I am lucky that, as well as having my usual to do list – something that has expanded since we have started planning our wedding – Sarah has added a special challenge that she promised would “give me something to sink my teeth into”. This week, to investigate what Bath has to offer, I have been given 6 special selections from the splendorous delights of the independent coffee scene.
Now I will admit that I had mixed feelings about this challenge. The coffee snob in me usually says stick with your regular hang out of Colonna and Smalls, Bath’s very own outstanding speciality coffee shop, especially as they set the bar so high in terms of competition. However, where would the fun be if we didn’t try something new? So without further ado, the below is but a mere snapshot of some of the additional coffee delights Bath I have experimented with this week.
The Society Café
If I were to try and describe the Society Café in a few words, I would go with ‘Fantastic coffee, good cakes and a nice interior’. Here is a good place to come and discuss coffee with knowledgeable and friendly staff and to enjoy a good selection of cakes.
The interior of the Café is clean, refreshing and modern and it has a good vibe as people are always coming and going. It is a good atmosphere and great for either sitting at the window and people watching or reading a book.
On the advice of Sarah, who seems to have almost filled up a loyalty card with them, despite not liking coffee, I tried one of their caramel shortbreads. It was so good, I immediately bought another one to take home with me.
Now for the coffee itself. The baristas were knowledgeable and engaging, but their coffee selection was better suited to flat whites, rather than espressos.
During the course of my week exploring good coffee, it was hard not to hold this as a particular favourite of mine. Repack Espresso is a little outside of the main shopping strip but is located superbly near the Royal Victoria Park (perfect for an autumn stroll and a hot drink after).
The coffee is carefully selected and refreshed regularly to keep the selection interesting. The coffee house itself is relatively new but the owner, Jonathan, was bursting with knowledge, pride and enthusiasm whilst taking the time to explain all about the origin of his particular beans. It turns out that Jonathan was trained by the barista team and Colonna and Smalls and with such a pedigree, he was able to demonstrate that he knew what he was doing.
A word of advice, if it is a work of art you are looking for on your flat white, then this might not be your kind of place, Repack is unapologetic in its focus on one key ingredient; an espresso that is special. I look forward to returning many times in the future.
Forum Coffee House
Perhaps one of the latest additions to the Bath coffee scene, Forum Coffee House has only been open for a relatively short time but by looking inside, you would hardly know it.
The interior space is clearly Scandinavian inspired with plenty of room, modern sofas or bar tables by the window. The interior, despite being full and buzzing, gives an impression of openness and an ‘airy’ feel.
The coffee itself was of high quality but the real star of the show was “The Best Carrot Cake in the World’; with a title like that, surely it has to be worth a go? It did not disappoint.
This is a gem of a place located close to the shopping strip and the station but just far enough away from it all so it feels secluded.
The Kindling Coffee Company
This coffee house was located the other side of the river and is not one that you will simply stumble across as a tourist, or even as a local. Technically it is located in Widecombe (who knows?!) and they specialise in fair trade coffee, as well as locally and organically produced food.
It has a beautifully classic front window and once inside you will be greeted by an intimate and cosy space that makes it appealing to settle into for an afternoon of reading a book.
The coffee itself, was sadly not great. It seemed to be lacking the punch I have come to expect from top quality coffee. However, the star of the show had to be the various cakes on offer.
Also worth noting that they do not accept card payments but there is a conveniently located cash point just a couple of doors down.
My verdict: worth popping into if you are in the area, but for a complete package deal, ie great coffee and good cake, you are better off heading into town.
I will admit that I have been to Jika Jika before. In fact it is a favourite of mine to swing by and grab a coffee on the way to work. The staff are incredibly friendly and it is ideally located close to the station and it has a fantastic story linked to King Jika Jika (seriously I laugh every time I read it!).
FYI if you are catching the train, you are entitled to a discount on your coffee, how fab is that? Whilst the food is ok, it’s the style that makes this place worth a stop off to caffeine up before continuing on with the day; it is the essential part of any morning to work routine.
The Bath Coffee Company
The Bath Coffee Company are a cosy independent coffee shop overlooking the Kingsmead Square. Whilst it is ideally located, it is up against some stiff competition with a number of different coffee houses, most notably the other Society Café, littered around the squares outskirts.
The coffee itself was from a local roasters, Clifton Coffee, and did not disappoint. The espresso was smooth and did not have an acidic after taste. The décor inside was a bit chrome for my liking and the food on offer was a tiny bit ‘packaged’.
That being said, it seemed to offer a haven for a group (students?) plugged in and seamlessly typing away for the afternoon. The staff were friendly and attentive. Definitely worth stopping in for a coffee but there are other places locally where you can get a better slab of cake.