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Best Coffee Shops Bristol

Top Picks:

Small Street Espresso

Playground Coffee House

Full Court Press

‘When This Is All Over’: a post-lockdown, coffee shop bucket list

As the UK edges ever closer to the one year mark of our first national lockdown, the question everyone is talking about is when will life go back to normal? In other words, when will I be able to sip my cup of coffee in an actual coffee shop, whilst having a good old chinwag with my best friend with a slice of Victoria Sponge in my hand? Eventually the day will arrive when the hustle and bustle of the Bristolian streets will arise again and the overwhelming task of choosing what to do and where to go will be the new talk of the town. No longer will you have to stand frozen outside a coffee shop, whilst waiting for your cardboard takeaway cup… soon you will sit on a throne of cosiness whilst you sip from a mug of fresh brew, watching the world go by. 

Bristol is most definitely blessed when it comes to quirky coffee shops, with an abundance of independent venues offering up the finest, locally roasted blends and tasty treats. So, here I am to help you reclaim your caffeine kick and give you my top 5 coffee shops in Bristol to add to your post-lockdown bucket list.

Small Street Espresso

Living up to its name, Small Street Espresso is one of the smallest coffee shops located on Small Street in the heart of Bristol. What Small Street Espresso lacks in size, it sure makes up for it in delicious roasted coffee. Tucked away in Bristol’s beautiful old city lies this quaint independent espresso bar; offering not only fantastic coffee, but a range of loose leaf teas from the Bedminster- based Canton Tea Company, cakes from The Exploding Bakery of Exeter and fresh pastries from Hart’s Bakery. 

Opened by coffee connoisseur, Chris Chubb in 2012, it is clear he is an expert in his field, spending years working in cafes and roasters in Australia and New Zealand. Small Street Espresso helped kick-start the coffee revolution in Bristol, inspiring others to say farewell to harsh, dark roasted Italian coffees and bringing in something new to tickle our tastebuds. They specialise in a choice of artisan blends and single original beans, each offering slightly different flavours and aromas. Keeping things fresh and current, Small Street Espresso features a revolving selection of house and guest espresso, decaf and single origin beans for filter coffee. And just when you think it can’t get any better, they sell their ground and whole bean coffee to enjoy in the comfort of your own home. 

Being the epitome of cosy, it’s not just their coffee that makes you feel warm inside but the shabby-chic interior really adds to the comfort-factor. There is an exposed brick wall as you walk in, with wooden benches complimented by stools, stripped wooden floorboards and uncovered pipes while  oversized retro chic light bulbs hang from above. 

Seating is limited, so it’s worth getting there early to guarantee a prime window spot to people – watch in peace. Head barista and joint – owner Chris’ pride and joy takes centre stage in the coffee house – a beautiful La Marzocco espresso machine, handmade in Florence (may I add), which has been sprayed to exactly match the blue of their cups. 

So why not add this little hidden gem to the list and support Small Street Espresso? 

Playground Coffee House

Imagine your normal coffee shop. Ok. Park that thought. From first glance, it may resemble something similar to a hipster arts’n’crafts shop but if you take a closer look, there is more than meets the eyes. Get yourself inside and the first thing you’ll notice are two wooden swings (yes swings), an abundance of games, and what you came for in the first place, good coffee! Described on their website as ‘specialists in bringing friends and family together’, this is exactly where you want to be when lockdown becomes a tale of the past. 

Playground’s philosophy is more than just about the coffee (independently supplied by Colona). They invite you to ‘socialise, collaborate and enjoy’. Originally starting out as an ordinary coffee shop in 2014, Playground has outdone itself by becoming a creative space now specialising in not just local coffee but also craft beer and cocktails. In fact, they’re doing so well that they recently won second place in the European Amsterdam Coffee Cocktail Competition. Even more of a reason why you should give it a go. 

Now here’s the important stuff – the coffee – there are usually two espressos to choose from, both from highly acclaimed Clifton Coffee. Alongside the coffee sits a selection of loose – leaf teas from Bristol’s Canton Tea. Sticking with the local vibe, Playground has plenty of freshly – made cakes and pastries for you to pair with your cuppa, many of them baked by Bristol catering company and Herbert’s Bakery in Montpellier. They offer vegan and gluten – free options, so it’s a win win for everyone. And just when you think it can’t get any better, Playground also offers a lunchtime deal including a sandwich and coffee for £5. Bargain! 

Next let’s talk games. Playground has over 150 games scattered around the shop, entirely free for  you and your friends to enjoy over your hot drink or tipple. Anything from party games to deep strategy games, card games to deck building games, you name it, Playground have got it. But if you’re not into games and looking for some down time, maybe for a work catch-up or even a spot of reading – you’ll definitely get a peaceful moment here as well. With plenty of little nooks for solo coffee enthusiasts, this cafe is made for everyone.

Swings, games, and GOOD COFFEE! What more could you want?

Full Court Press

This place is sure to bring out the inner coffee geek in you. Full Court Press is based in one of the oldest parts of Bristol. Bursting with a fantastic selection of coffee roasts, this is certainly one for the coffee lovers.  

Although small in size, Full Court’s extensive knowledge isn’t. They take the coffee making process to the next level, weighing every serving of ground coffee so that every single coffee is presented in exactly the same proportion. Satisfying I guess! Not only is it like watching an artist at work, but the baristas seem to know everything there is about coffee and will give you their full attention and knowledge answering every question you have ever pondered. Their enthusiasm is second to none. 

Being involved in coffee since 2002, owner Mat North’s dream was to set up his own independent coffee shop and help people understand just how complex coffee can be. And he’s certainly manifested his aspirations into existence! Full Court Press opened in 2012, and was a big name in guiding Bristol into its very own coffee revolution. Suddenly, gone were the days of house blends with flavoured syrups, FCP introduced a new range of top-notch artisan coffees as well as excellent customer service to teach Bristolians and visitors all about speciality coffee. 

This place is sure to bring out the inner coffee geek in you. Full Court Press is based in one of the oldest parts of Bristol. Bursting with a fantastic selection of coffee roasts, this is certainly one for the coffee lovers.  

Although small in size, Full Court’s extensive knowledge isn’t. They take the coffee making process to the next level, weighing every serving of ground coffee so that every single coffee is presented in exactly the same proportion. Satisfying I guess! Not only is it like watching an artist at work, but the baristas seem to know everything there is about coffee and will give you their full attention and knowledge answering every question you have ever pondered. Their enthusiasm is second to none. 

Being involved in coffee since 2002, owner Mat North’s dream was to set up his own independent coffee shop and help people understand just how complex coffee can be. And he’s certainly manifested his aspirations into existence! Full Court Press opened in 2012, and was a big name in guiding Bristol into its very own coffee revolution. Suddenly, gone were the days of house blends with flavoured syrups, FCP introduced a new range of top-notch artisan coffees as well as excellent customer service to teach Bristolians and visitors all about speciality coffee.

Variety is key’ says FCP and this is clear with their ever changing menu, to showcase the full range of the coffee spectrum. They brew coffees of rare varieties and origins with complex flavours for the daring coffee lovers, alongside the easier drinking and more traditional style, all brewed with the utmost care and attention. There are two espresso and two filter options that are available at all times, however if you’re still not sure what you’d like, the staff are always happy to guide you  through what’s on offer.  

Coffee’s not for everyone, and that’s ok. Although FCP predominantly focuses on coffee, they do have a range of locally-made soft drinks, delicious teas and hot chocolate. Food includes gluten- free cakes and pastries from Hart’s Bakery. 

It’s clear that Full Court Press is overflowing with love for good coffee so not why support them and add this to the list? You won’t be disappointed.

Need more ideas for The Best Coffee Places?

Spicer & Cole

https://www.spicerandcole.co.uk/

Now boasting four coffee shops, Spicer & Cole is one of Bristol’s most successful independent cafe chains. Over time, they have gained a loyal coffee following as well as enticing new customers in with their delicious homemade cakes, salads, and brunch menu. Roasted and supplied by Bristol- based ‘Extract’, coffee has always been a key component of Spice & Cole’s success. The shiny Italian- built La Marzocco espresso machine is where the magic happens. In each cafe, they serve delicious loose-leaf tea and artisan coffee – always prepared as a double shot with full fat milk (or can always be altered to single shot/ decaf/ skimmed/ soya milk). Spicer & Cole describes their house espresso as a ‘stunning South American blend. A sweet, big-bodied combination of Columbian, Peruvian and El Salvadorian beans, produces the ultimate crowd-pleasing espresso. Great with milk great without.’ 

Next to the coffee machine, hangs the chunky wooden board displaying the full range of locally-sourced ingredients, both sweet and savoury. Start your day right with something from their breakfast menu: homemade granola or avocado toast or why not pop in for lunch and try their scrumptious sandwiches. These include, rare roast beef baguettes with celeriac remoulade, red onion and mustard cress; ciabattas filled with roasted butternut squash, Brie, tomato chutney and rocket; Bertinet Bakery baguettes with crayfish, capers, dill, horseradish mayo and watercress. And of course, any time of the day is a good time for coffee and cake! Their food counter is always piled high with local sweet treats such as, spiced apple bundts, almond and white chocolate blondies with peanut butter icing; rose, orange and cardamom cakes. Spicer & Cole also offer a range of dairy and gluten free options as well.

So why not add Spicer & Cole to your list? You’ve got four to choose from, each cafe unique in its own way but all have become a sweet spot for hungry and thirsty customers!

Mokoko

https://www.mokokocoffee.com/

Mokoko is located on the Goal Ferry Steps, in Wapping Wharf. Opened in 2011 by Jake Harris, who previously ran successful Jacobs Coffee House, Mokoko goes against the stereotypical sit down cafe-style experience and, instead, puts emphasis on the grab and go service. Their aim was to ‘challenge the conventions of what an independent coffee shop and bakery should look like’ as well as ‘blur the boundaries between front of house and areas that would usually be recognised as back of house’. But if you are wanting that traditional coffee shop experience, Mokoko still offers plenty of outdoor and inside seating.

At one end of Mokoko you’ll find an open-plan kitchen, where a range of cakes, pastries and savouries are freshly baked each day. There is a huge selection on offer including pains au raisins; squash, pumpkin and banana muffins; salted caramel brownies; cinnamon buns; Somerset cider and apple cake; apricot and lavender cake and even a raw vegan cake. On the savoury front, a choice of a spinach and ham tartine or a spinach and mushroom option. So if you’re sat twiddling your thumbs, it’s always great fun to watch the kitchen team at work. 

It’s also hard not to notice the two bright yellow Conti machines that bring the coffee to life. There’s a choice of blends available for both espresso and filter coffees and they’ll happily make you other drinks if you ask. Non – coffee drinkers also have a choice of teas, hot chocolate, homemade lemonade and fresh orange juice.

But whilst we wait in anticipation for the doors to reopen, Mokoko are still blessing us with our coffee needs. They are roasting and shipping it right to our front doors. That’s it, you heard it right!  Their website states that they ‘will roast coffee every Wednesday and aim to get all coffee orders out for delivery the next day.’ So get on their website now to support Mokoko or email alex@mokokocoffee.com now to get your coffee fix! 

Friendly reminder that all cafes are currently closed due to lockdown restrictions, please check opening times once the venue reopens.

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