Bristol, the tenth largest city in the UK, has a laid back attitude with a lively independent streak. There are plenty of excellent restaurants, great places to party and a multitude of events to experience (your writer went during Upfest, a large Street Art Festival).
Naturally then, there is a vibrant specialty scene. Commercial high street coffee shops do not seem to be as numerous as in other parts of the UK, and many cafes and eateries provide good quality coffee.
The Main Roasters in Bristol
Bristol and the surrounding area has a couple of very good roasters providing specialty coffee to much of Bristol, Clifton and Avonmouth.
Clifton Coffee Roasters, based in Avonmouth, is a long standing roastery with some top coffee professionals. During the week it is open for visits, and also has what the owners tell me, one of the busiest coffee schools in Europe.
The staff are open and friendly, inviting you in to look at the roastery and upstairs to see their “coffee machine museum”, as well as the school. This is great fun for coffee fanatics, who if they’re lucky enough, might be offered to try some top geisha coffee.
Jimmy Dimitrov, education manager and SCA trainer, told me Clifton aim to only stock coffees with a specialty grading above 85 points. All the coffees I tried were indeed exceptional.
The other big roaster in Bristol is Extract Coffee, by Stapleton Road Station. Once again, you may pop in to visit, try some coffee and buy a packet to take home. Extract is huge, roasting both commercial and specialty coffee. The huge 120 kg roaster, and the large custom repaired roasters, make a dramatic backdrop in the large, open factory.
Head of Coffee, Ash, is approachable and happy to share her knowledge. This too, is an interesting visit and well worth the time of any serious coffee nerd.
Cafes in Bristol
There are a number of good cafes in Bristol, either stocking coffee of the two roasteries above or roasting their own.
One such roast cafe is Two Day Coffee, operating for over 13 years. The roasted coffee sold here is… guess how old? There is a grand selection of good coffee and a nice community feel. You may also have your own choice of coffees blended, offering quite a unique experience in the specialty world.
Also in the city centre is Full Court Press. The gang here have a good sense of humour, and the shop is definitely one for true appreciators of coffee. The owner, Mat North, is a British coffee heavyweight and has authored the book – Coffee: a Modern Field Guide.
Este Kitchen in Greenbank (East of the centre) provides Extract coffee but is also a great place for eating. The breakfasts are particularly good, ingredients sourced locally and fresh. This is gourmet cooked breakfast for a very, very fair price.
On Gloucester Road, one of the longest thread of independent shops in England, is the Boston Tea Party. This is a staple, centre of community cafe with great guest coffee and good food. The front garden patio is a relaxing place to sit, especially when the weather is good.
South of the city centre in Southville is Albatross. In the picture you can the railings in place for Upfest. I love this cafe. It’s bright, colourful and full of beautiful green plants of different texture, shape and colour. This is situated on the busy road of North Street, full of life, good restaurants and that ever so Bristol, chilled atmosphere.
Tincan coffee is another good place to stop in Bristol. They serve guest coffees, regularly from Clifton Coffee, and have a number of sites in the city. The baked goods are tasty, the baristas skilled and the coffee, delicious.
And Finally, Enjoy
Visit Bristol has a long list of good coffee shops to visit, as well as very good information on what there is to do in the city. This is a city Coffee Rambler highly recommends to visit – the good coffee just makes it that bit extra special.
Leave your favourite places for coffee in Bristol below in the comments.