Had the pleasure of visiting the quaint town of Farnham recently with my partner. She had an interview to attend so after the stressful morning and brief bout with existentialism, we went for lunch.
My favourite thing to do when visiting a new town is to look up local independent coffee shops to have a try of. There wasn’t a huge variety in Farnham but there were two that caught my eye in the town centre that were fairly close together.
Spoilers: One was good and one was bad.
Krema coffee is a tiny but beautiful space down the main high street which boasts all of the exposed brickwork and rustic wooden tables that you would expect from a modern independent coffee shop looking to be as instagrammable as possible. It’s cosy in the sense that the space is warm and inviting but also in the sense that during busy periods you can hardly move. I spent a lot of time apologising to the ladies around me as I bumped into them repeatedly.
I’ll always try a pour over if they are available as this is something my shop specialises in so I like to see what the offering is elsewhere. Luckily, Krema offers individual V60 pour overs with three or four choices that, I assume, change every now and then. The choices weren’t clear at first, but upon ordering I was proffered the different bags by a barista who gave me a short but sweet description of all of them.
I opted for the Kenyan, a well-known coffee growing country which can very easily taste terribly sour if the delicate fruity notes aren’t looked after. Luckily, these guys knew their way around a kettle and cone as I was thoroughly impressed with the results in my cup. They seemed to opt for the safe ~16g of coffee which is an amount I stay away from these days as it can, and did, make the filter quite thin.
My girlfriend went with the strawberry lemonade tea. I wouldn’t normally go for a tea over a coffee myself but, to be fair, I tried hers and it was delicious.
The Barista Lounge
If you were to walk a few doors down from Krema (though I recommend that you didn’t) you’ll find The Barista Lounge. I had high hopes of this place as the name would suggest its a lounge for baristas and, therefore, right up my street but walking through the door here is a stark comparison to the former as the atmosphere seems to drop by about 20 degrees.
Unfortunately, there is no filter coffee here so I opted for a macchiato. I’ve never been asked to clarify if I want an espresso macchiato or a latte macchiato before. I would guess because the latter is a drink that was invented by Starbucks and doesn’t exist in the third wave. But I went with it and took my drink to the table.
They only seemed to have one coffee on offer but I overheard a barista telling another customer that the coffee was ‘a blend and therefore much better than a single origin, and roasted very darkly’.
He wasn’t wrong on the second point, the roast was very dark, so dark it had a gritty mouthfeel and charcoal taste. Perhaps it would’ve been better in a more milkier drink like a latte, maybe the grinder was off, who knows?
I don’t have an issue with the fact the barista said blends are better than single origins, although that is an opinion and not an actual fact. However, I do have an issue with whoever trained him to say that. Single origins and blends do different jobs. A single origin will often have one particular characteristic that you’d want to show off, usually as filter coffee, whereas a blend would offer more of a balance of flavours so as not to overwhelm as an espresso. So, for the most part, I find it pretty impossible to say one is ultimately better than the other.
The upsides to this cafe are that there was, as you can see in the picture above, plenty of room to stretch my rather long and gangly legs with more seating upstairs and in the garden.
The barista lounge also offered a wine and cheese selection which I didn’t indulge in this time but would have if I was forced to go back.