A Cirencester Coffee Scene?
Coffee is everywhere these days. Even the pokiest of villages probably has a coffee shop where you can get your regular fix of latte or cappuccino. Speciality or artisan coffee, takes this tree and adds a refinement and a level of taste that does proper justice to the infinite variety of aroma and flavour that an arabica coffee bean can offer.
I was in Swindon the other day in one of its speciality Coffee shops, Dark Room Espresso – a favourite haunt when I am in the vicinity. At Dark Room, they really care about coffee. It was rescued from closure by Will, owner of the delightful Brew in Oxford. Steve, was talking about how they had resurrected the coffee at Swindon’s other notable coffee shop, Baila Coffee and Vinyl. Our conversation revolved around the fact that Dark Room had not trumpeted their involvement with Baila’s re-establishment of its coffee provision. What mattered to Will, it was explained to me, was not any notion of brand success or expansion; rather, it was the principle of Swindon having a viable speciality coffee scene. I found this hugely laudable, obviously, but it is also very astute.
It got me thinking about Cirencester’s coffee scene, and what it is that our lovely town has to offer. The Cotswolds abounds with artisanal produce that is the equal of, and in some cases arguably better than, many other regions of the UK, and further afield, but what about the coffee?
Surely any town that can boast its own coffee roaster can rightfully claim to have a speciality coffee scene, and in Rave Coffee, tucked away in what is actually a little gastronomic enclave on the Love Lane Industrial estate that is also home to excellent ice cream and farm foods, we do have a coffee establishment of which we can be justifiably proud. Even better, is that they have their own cafe; rather than simply providing the raw ingredient, they demonstrate how to put it good use, and you are assured of a beautifully creamy and aromatic coffee that will give your day a kick, whether first thing in the morning or mid afternoon. And they are a great bunch in there, always with a friendly demeanour and the bit of odd banter. Tea and hot chocolate, as well as a variety of brownies and flapjacks are also on offer in the front-of-house cafe, but Rave is really all about the coffee, and it doesn’t even come with a price premium. If you haven’t been, go; you will not regret it.
Cotswold Artisan Coffee
So far, so good, then? Indeed so, and it stays in similar vein when one ventures in to town and Cotswold Artisan Coffee. It’s a place that hides its light under a bushel somewhat, tucked away as it is in Bishop’s Walk between Cricklade Street and the Brewery car park, but boy are we glad to have them! At Cotswold Artisan Coffee, no matter what you are drinking, it is impeccably sourced. The house coffee is always the same blend from Union, but the guest coffees could come from anywhere. The awards on the wall tell you all you need to know about the quality of what it is they offer here. The tea too, is chosen, brewed and served with precision and care, and even the hot chocolate is made from single origin real chocolate. There is also a greater variety of things to eat here: cakes, particularly the salted caramel brownie are to die for, and the banana bread is similarly excellent. Come to think of it, all the cakes here are first rate. Soup and sandwiches are also available if you need something for a genuine bite to eat, and all freshly made. Don’t tell me that a roast beef, roasted mushroom and blue cheese panini, and a dark chocolate tiffin slice sitting alongside your flat white does not have a mouthwatering ring to it – I simply won’t believe you!
We’ve already reviewed Jolly Nice here at Cirencetera, and you can read our thoughts here. In terms of the Cirencester coffee “scene” it deserves an honourable mention, even though is it not in Cirencester itself. Excellent fresh organic food can be enjoyed along a well-made coffee made with good raw ingredients. It makes the list here mainly because it is open on a Sunday, it’s the closest place to Cirencester where you can get a good cup of coffee.
And so there we have it: perhaps not much of a scene, but enough of one to keep us going throughout the week, even if on Sunday it means jumping in the car or getting on your bike. As I write this I can foresee readers – assuming we have any – exclaiming about Coffee #1, and why it does not feature above. It is, after all, plumb central and even open on Sunday. It’s spacious, has a great selection of cakes – the Portuguese custard tarts are very good – and other things to eat, and its coffee seems to have been sourced with some care. The problem arises after this when, with expectations raised, you are presented with a cup so average, it leaves you feeling a touch let down. It is such a shame: the staff there are warm, friendly and welcoming that Coffee #1 has a pleasing energetic buzz to the place – one you might reasonably have expected to come from your coffee – but sadly it is apparent that not enough time has been invested in this energetic and willing bunch of would-be baristas, to really make the place somewhere special.
So there we have it: Cirencester’s coffee scene. We’re spoiled having resident roasters, but the feeling lingers that we could perhaps do with one or two more places that really put the emphasis on care and quality.