On Tuesday my girlfriend and I experienced the very rare phenomenon of having the same day off and so we decided to celebrate by visiting the picturesque city of Bath. Neither of us had been before and everybody dies eventually so off we went on a mini adventure!
Of course, a day trip to a new city wouldn’t be without some coffee stops. Unfortunately, we only managed to squeeze in three between the sight seeing but here are my thoughts on each of them.
First up was Society Cafe, one of four branches, two of which are in Bath. The one we wandered into was just off the main high street, a minute from Pulteney Bridge, and five minutes down the road from Bath Abbey.
Society has a great simple little interior as you walk in with a few seats and benches running along the windows but there is also a downstairs area (under the bike) with more seating.
Service was great, guy behind the bar explained that I’d be waiting a couple of minutes as he was doing another Aeropress beforehand which he didn’t need to do but was a nice touch and our drinks were brought over for us while we read the complimentary literature scattered around which included the latest edition of Caffeine magazine and Society’s own newspaper.
You’ll find a decent choice of coffee available with the house roaster (Origin) and a guest roaster which changes every week having an option each for espresso and Aeropress. I opted for a Kenyan filter from Round Hill Roastery which was probably my favourite coffee of the day. As you’d expect it had those fruity notes which became more prominent as it cooled.
My girlfriend had a flat white with the house espresso but, to be honest, it wasn’t the best. There just wasn’t a lot of flavour there, totally lacking the intensity a flat white is known for. Disappointing but it wouldn’t stop us from returning.
Jacob’s Coffee House
Next up as we continued our adventure throughout the heart of the city was Jacob’s Coffee House. Confusing, as I was actually looking for a cafe called Mokoko which I had found online. Google maps took me to the spot occupied by Jacob’s, turns out it’s becoming Mokoko from August 24th.
Jacob’s/Mokoko is right on the corner of one of the busiest public squares in Bath as this is where you’ll find the entrance to Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths which I’ve heard are quite a big deal.
Jacob’s were offering coffee from Easy Jose Coffee as their espresso and Round Hill Roastery as their filter.
As always when visiting a new coffee shop I like to order a filter and, as Jacob’s were using the same roaster as Society, I figured this would be a solid choice. So why, the more astute of you may ask, is there a flat white in that picture?
Well, my dear readers, that’s because batch brewed filter coffee is a load of shit. That’s right, as mentioned before, batch brew is not more efficient than coffee brewed to order. I don’t know what their batch brewed filter coffee tastes like because they had run out of it at 4pm on a Tuesday.
So we settled for two flat whites instead. More flavoursome than the previous but definitely not filter coffee. Our entertainment was provided by the mass of pigeons that would swoop down on any customer with food. Customers would then try and blame the staff for the feathered intruders. We didn’t get anything to eat here but the menu was full of homemade sweet and savoury items which the pigeons enjoyed very much.
Colonna and Small’s
Our third and final stop was Colonna and Small’s. It wasn’t until later when looking at the array of trophies on the shelves and copies of Water For Coffee, it dawned on me that this shop is actually owned by Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, previous UK Barista Champion, and World Barista Finalist.
There are a few cosy looking seats near the front door and up a couple of steps you’ll find the bar and main seating area. Unfortunately, we wandered in just as they were about to close but we were happily served coffee regardless.
Colonna and Small’s are armed with a mod bar, essentially an espresso machine with all of the machinery parts hidden away underneath the bar itself leaving just the group heads and steam wands poking out. This removes most of the barrier between the customer and the barista so much more natural conversations can take place. I’ve had a play on one at the London Coffee Festival but this is the first time I’ve seen one out in the wild. To the right is the brew bar which is also fully equipped with a siphon, Aeropress, and V60.
Multiple choices of coffees are available for both espresso and filter and will change weekly. I was recommended a Kenyan Aeropress which I had no problems accepting and as I was served the coffee I was told a little bit about what to expect flavour-wise which was a nice touch but tasting notes are also on the menu if you want to make an educated choice.
I wish I could’ve sat in and chatted a little bit but, alas, our trip to Bath was coming to an end (our parking was about to run out).
There is another shop in Bath that I wanted to go to called Cascara (which I feel like is a bit of an unfortunate name at this time in Cascara’s life (but more on that another time)), because, according to a friend of mine who visited previously, they have a resident dog. I’ll have to make sure to visit again soon.
Bath certainly has a fair amount of choice in terms of specialty coffee, all within walking distance of each other. I’d recommend Society and Colonna and Smalls if you’re in the area but I’d definitely like to check out Cascara and Boston Tea Party if I were to go back.