Duncan's blog

January 5, 2015

Bristol coffee shops

Filed under: Coffee — duncan @ 8:00 am
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After a recent trip to Bristol, in keeping with previous articles on coffee shops in Dublin, New York, Zagreb and  New Zealand and Australia, I thought I’d do a write-up for some cafés we went to.

Playground Coffee House

45 St. Nicholas Street

The first place we called at was the Playground Coffee House.  It hadn’t opened for the morning, we were slightly too early, but we were still able to get some very nice coffees.  It looked like a fun place to go; from the usual like board games, to the unusual like, er, swings for seats.  Which come with their own warning, they maybe don’t mix too well with hot drinks!

The barista was very friendly, and recommended to us a few of the other best coffee shops in town.

P1010287 P1010288 P1010289 P1010291 P1010293

Facebook / Twitter


Bear Pit Social

St. James Barton Underpass

This place is housed in a converted shipping container, in the, er, interesting location of the Bearpit, aka the St. James Barton Roundabout underpass… not as bad as it sounds.  In fact they had quite a nice little seating area in one corner, and they were doing food in addition to the coffees.


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Spicer and Cole

1 Queen Square Avenue

Spicer and Cole was listed on our map, out in Clifton.  We didn’t go there, but they also had a branch in the centre, on Welsh Back, very close to Queen Square.  I overheard someone in the street raving about it to a couple who were looking for somewhere to eat.  I went there a couple of times; the coffee was ok; we had some nice Sunday breakfast.

P1010463 P1010465 P1010466

Website / Facebook / Twitter


Full Court Press – Speciality Coffee

59 Broad Street

Full Court Press I visited a couple of times.  The name’s apparently a basketball reference.  They seemed to take their coffee pretty seriously (as their sub-title would imply), and both times the baristas gave me good descriptions of the choice of beans available.

P1010434 P1010435 P1010585 P1010586

WebsiteFacebook / Twitter / Pinterest


I intended to visit some of these too, but unfortunately they were all closed on the Sunday:

  • Didn’t You Do Well
  • Workhouse Cafe
  • Small Street Espresso

The coffee map I bought in Playground was very useful; I’d recommend it if you were on a trip to Bristol and wanted to visit a few different cafés.  It listed 24 different places to go, with lots of information and an attractively-designed map.

Website / Twitter

(when I first checked the website was fine; but it seems be offline right now).


November 8, 2014

New Zealand and Australian coffee shops

Filed under: Coffee — duncan @ 11:16 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I had a brilliant 3-week holiday in New Zealand and Australia with my girlfriend recently. I thought I’d list some of the decent coffee shops we visited, similarly to how I’ve done it before with New York and Zagreb. This is far from comprehensive; we only went to a few cities, and didn’t try specifically to seek out the best cafés, they were more just those we came across in our wanderings. In summary I was very impressed with the quality of coffee shops in both New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand

We were briefly in Auckland, then the rest of the time in the South Island, including a couple of visits to Christchurch.



1 Wellesley Street West, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010 (map)

A quirky little place with lots of things to keep you distracted in the cafe, like books, board games and an arcade machine, making it a fun place to hang out. But the important thing is the coffee, which was good.

Good One

42 Douglas Street, Ponsonby, Auckland 1011 (map)

Slightly off the main Ponsonby Road, down what is otherwise mostly a residential street, tucked away in a small light industrial unit. It’s worth discovering though; it’s a decent size inside with plenty of seating areas. A huge collection of National Geographics provides some colour in keeping with their yellow theme.


Coffee Lovers

25 New Regent Street, Christchurch (map)

One of several cafes on the funky little pastel-coloured New Regent Street, right outside where the historic tram currently stops. A small seating area upstairs, reasonable coffee.

Crafted Coffee Company

Re:Start Container Mall, Cashel Street, Christchurch (map)

In the centre of Christchurch, following the devastating earthquake of 2011, they’ve constructed a pop-up space of shops and cafes made from shipping containers, ‘Re:Start‘, very similar to the Boxpark in Shoreditch, London.  In one of those units is Crafted Coffee, in a two-storey affair (although the upper area was closed when we were there).  It’s a decent little cafe, and I thought they displayed good customer service.

There were a couple other coffee shops in Re:Start, and given enough time I’d have tried them all.

Robert Harris, Christchurch

YMCA Building, 12 Hereford Street, Christchurch 8013 (map)

In the ground floor of the YMCA youth hostel is a decent sized Robert Harris cafe, doing reasonable coffees and teas and food.  Not quite pure artisan coffee, but a step up from global chains like Starbucks.

Vespa Bar

225 High Street, Christchurch (map)

The original Vespa Bar got destroyed in the earthquake, but has been able to re-open in a new building nearby to their original location.  It was more of a bar than a coffee shop, but the food and coffee we had was perfectly fine.




Vudu Cafe

23 Beach Street, Queenstown 9197 (map)

In Queenstown there are two Vudu’s, presumably reasonably similar… don’t confuse this Vudu Cafe with Vudu Cafe & Larder round the corner!  We only went to this one, twice.  The coffees were good, and the food was beautifully presented yumminess.  It was quite popular and busy, although there was a semi-covered side-area which didn’t seem to get so crowded.

Post Office Cafe

19 Ballarat Street, Queenstown 9348 (map)

aka The Exchange, a large coffee shop just round the corner from, er, the post office.


Relishes cafe, Wanaka

1/99 Ardmore Street, Wanaka 9305 (map)

There seemed to be several decent looking places along the lakeside in Wanaka; we just chanced on this one.  I had a delicious ‘free range pulled pork shoulder in a Turkish bun with apple slaw‘.  Never heard of Turkish bun before, but it just turned out to be a big soft roll, I think with some herbs and spices.

Cafe Mondo, Arrowtown

4/14 Buckingham Street, Arrowtown 9196 (map)

Arrowtown is an interesting little place near Queenstown where the town centre looks like something from the Wild West, having been an old gold mining settlement.  Not sure how much of that is genuinely old and how much is retro-fitted.  Cafe Mondo looked like about the best spot for coffee.  Friendly service.


We were in Melbourne for a few days, but less than 48 hours in Sydney.


Cheeky Monkey

89A Swan Street, Richmond VIC 3121 (map)

Melbourne as a whole is full of good coffee shops, although there didn’t seem to be that many around this area; I recall walking down Swan Street looking for anywhere decent, then finding Cheeky Monkey and opposite it was Book Talk Cafe (a ‘cafebreria‘) which also looked good.

Sacred Alley espresso bar

12 Equitable Place, Melbourne, VIC 3000 (map)

This little alleyway in the Melbourne CBD laneways is full of cafes and restaurants, many of which looked like they’d be good for coffee, and we just opted for this one, which was perfectly good.

Jasper Coffee

Stall 105, 163 Commercial Road, Prahran, Victoria 3181 (map)

Prahran has a large indoor market full of fresh meat, fish, fruit + veg stalls.  Towards the back is this little coffee stand, with an impressive selection of beans available for purchase.  Quite busy, at least at the weekend, but good coffee.

Market Lane is another coffee shop in the Prahran Market that looks very good.

Huckleberry Finn

538 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, Victoria (map)

Came across this little place by luck, as we had a few minutes while changing trams and got some takeaway coffees here.  Lovely teal La Marzocco machine.


157 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Victoria 3065 (map)

This was in the Fitzroy area, towards the southern end of Brunswick Street.  They had an open fire in the back, a sort of long narrow affair with different seating areas.  I had some ‘baked eggs in spicy napoli sauce with chorizo & feta’ which was quite nice, and the coffees were very good.  It was indeed nice inside.

Miss Frank cafe

200 Through Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124 (map)

This coffee shop was out in Camberwell, luckily quite close to where we were staying.  It’s a good size inside, with friendly service.  Nice food, good coffees, much better than I would expect to typically find out in the suburbs.

Sensory Lab

297 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 (map)

Based in the ground floor of department store David Jones.  They seemed to know what they were doing.



Ground Control cafe

Alfred Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 (map)

A small coffee shop conveniently located in the ground floor under the Circular Quay train station.  Small seating area, reminded me of Dose in London.

Social Brew cafe, Sydney

Harris Street, Pyrmont, NSW 2009 (map)

This coffee shop is near the Sydney Fish Market in Pyrmont (which is worth a visit).  We went there on a Saturday lunch time, and it was very busy with people enjoying brunch, but we were only having coffees, which were good.

AquaBar, Bondi

4/266 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach, NSW 2026 (map)

On a wet and windy day we took refuge here at the far end of Bondi Beach.  There were about three cafes here all grouped together.  The coffee was ok, and I had a delicious ‘Mediterranean Eggs‘ (poached eggs, lime-infused zatar, feta, pine nuts, Israeli salad with sourdough).

June 25, 2014

25 funny coffee shop signs

Filed under: Coffee,Funny — duncan @ 8:00 am
Tags: , , ,

A day without coffee is like something without something

1. Fleet Street Press mastering the art of a good simile.


life is a beautiful and endless journey in search of the perfect cup!

2. Knockbox Coffee getting all zen.


free coffee for anyone doing the umbrella dance!

3. Department of Coffee and Social Affairs wondering if you feel like dancing.


Coffee - a warm, delicious alternative to hating everybody every morning forever!!!

4. Fleet Street Press


I'd rather take coffee than compliments just now!

5. Knockbox Coffee


Coffee is the foundation of my food pyramid

6. Fleet Street Press


But first, coffee

7.  Vittles Coffee, Edinburgh


trams: £1079.48 per Edinburgh resident, espresso: £2

8. Artisan Roast‘s coffee offering value for money for Edinburgh residents compared to the trams.


Coffee solves everything

9. Artisan Coffee, Stamford Brook


Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation

10. Fleet Street Press


Free coffee!

11.  Fork Deli


Coffee, one meal to rule them all!

12. Beany Green


your name

13. Department of Coffee and Social Affairs


coffee makes the afternoon better & quicker

14. Department of Coffee and Social Affairs


secret ingredient to the Egyptian revolution?

15. Notes providing the solution to the Egyptian revolution.


spring is here! - but we still need coffee!

16. Fleet River Bakery


wake up sleeping beauty

17. Fleet River Bakery



18. Artisan Roast


probably the best coffee in Tollcross and definitely the best tea

19. Modesty isn’t the best policy for Pekoe Tea.


coffee for passion

20.  The Borough Barista


creative fuel

21. Department of Coffee and Social Affairs


tube strikes suck!!!  our coffee doesn't!!!

22. Fleet River Bakery


coffee never goes on strike

23. Fleet Street Press



24. Quiet understatement from Brick Lane Coffee.


you've gotta fight for your right to latte

25. Four Corners Cafe

May 12, 2014

Even more amusing A-boards

Filed under: Coffee,Funny — duncan @ 8:00 am

More fun A-board signs outside coffee shops and bars:

Work hard and be nice to peopleAlcohol will not solve your problems but neither will milk!We don't care if we're not your cup of tea. So long as we're your pint of beer, we're happy!Coffee keeps me going until it's acceptable to drink wineThursday - it's almost, nearly the weekendThere's no 'I' in 'Team', but there is one in 'Wine' & 'Pint'. That's why it's OK to drink alone!"Reading is a less exciting pastime than going to the dogs, the pictures or the pub" - Mr BumpHip Hop Karaoke cancelled, but we still have bangin' coffee!!Nature is a language - can't you read?Cold gourmet sandwiches here to fill up that empty stomach :)Coffee / No CoffeeWe take cake seriously!

Signs by:

May 5, 2014

Yet more funny A-boards

Filed under: Coffee,Funny — duncan @ 8:00 am
Tags: ,

More A-boards, all from coffee shops this time.  I love these things!

P1090980P1090978-001P1100355P1090895-001P1090801   P1090901   P1100119   P1100367 P1100651P1100504P1090802-001 P1100337

Coffee shops:

April 28, 2014

More funny A-boards

Filed under: Coffee,Funny — duncan @ 8:00 am

More in my ongoing series of funny A-board signs:

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth - Mike TysonAll we are saying is give quiche a chanceYou wanna feel angels on your tastebuds?We have 2482 happy customers & 1 creepy guy who's not allowed inFriday, a day you pretend to 'work' from hereSand witchesThe real black stuffI loves coffee, I do!Where beautiful people drink beautiful coffeeBadass Coffee hold up Mr Sugar!!Bolivia Newton JohnKeep calm and have a drip

Credit goes to:

April 20, 2014

Funny A-boards

Filed under: Coffee,Funny — duncan @ 6:44 pm
Tags: , ,

Following up from my previous posts, Funny coffee shop A-boards and Funny pub signs, here’s some more of my photos of funny A-boards from a variety of places (but mostly coffee shops).

Happy Monday!! How 'bout some caffeine?Coffee! If you're not shaking you need another cup!!!Coffee - the antidote to childrenMathsHow is Fix Coffee made?Guns and CoffeeI've started drinking my coffee out of a clear mug so people know where my tolerance level isLids - get one free with every coffee you buy here!We got alllll the pastriesChang chang Leather Lane let us see you shake your thangThe older you get, the more you realise, nobody knows anything. Everybody's winging it!I have no idea what to write on this side :(

Thanks to:

February 11, 2014

Funny coffee shop A-boards

Filed under: Coffee — duncan @ 6:35 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Caffeine magazine published a selection of funny coffee shop A-boards in their latest issue, including a few of mine. I thought I’d do a collage of all my own favourite ones here, enjoy!

_  BrooklynToby's Estate Coffee, BrooklynKahailaBowery Coffee (NY) 1ArtigianoBorough Barista 1Borough Barista 2Borough Barista 3Bowery Coffee (NY) 2Brick Lane CoffeeDepartment of Coffee 1Department of Coffee 2Department of Coffee 3Department of Coffee 4Department of Coffee 5Department of Coffee 6DoseFleet River Bakery 1Fleet River Bakery 2Fleet River Bakery 3-001Fleet River Bakery 4.Fleet Street Press 1Fleet Street Press 2Fleet Street Press 3Fleet Street Press 4Fleet Street Press 5Fleet Street Press 6Fork 1Fork 2Goswell Road CoffeeKaffeine 1Kaffeine 2SlateBea's of BloomsburyLa GourmandinaP1090580P1090579P1090342P1090341P1090294P1090287P1090222P1090155P1080847

Many thanks to all these coffee shops for their wit and wisdom:

  • Artigiano
  • Bea’s of Bloomsbury
  • Borough Barista
  • Bowery Coffee
  • Brick Lane Coffee
  • Continental Stores
  • Department of Coffee and Social Affairs
  • Dose Espresso
  • Fix 126
  • Fleet River Bakery
  • Fleet Street Press
  • Fork
  • Freestate
  • Goswell Road Coffee
  • Kaffeine
  • Kahaila
  • La Gourmandia
  • Slate
  • Toby’s Estate Coffee

December 15, 2013

Dublin coffee shops

I had a flying visit to Dublin recently; I had a couple of spare hours when I managed to find myself two decent cups of coffee.  I thought them good enough to merit writing up a little  summary, like I did after my New York trip.

Update: after a second visit to Dublin I’ve been able to  update this post with another coffee shop, The Art of Coffee.


31 Drury Street (map)

I came across this one first while walking around randomly in the city centre, and straight away realised it would be good.  And I wasn’t wrong.  Coffee perfectly tasty, nicely-done latte art.  The whole place very carefully designed  Playing some good music too, which I’d forgotten about, but their website specifically mentions this, so it must be one of their USPs.

P1070086  P1070088P1070087


Coffee Angel PSL

27 Pembroke Street Lower (map)

I read about Coffee Angel in the Aer Lingus in-flight magazine on the way over (which also mentions Prufrock and Talkhouse in the same section), and knew I should try and find it.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  Unusually they don’t have a drinks menu at all; instead they’ll make whatever you want how you want it (not sure how they let you know of their prices though).  Also only the second coffee shop I’ve seen who have their latitude and longitude listed on their website (after Four Corners).

P1070104  P1070106P1070105



The Art of Coffee

Block E, Iveagh Court, Harcourt Rd., Dublin 2 (map)

Pretty tasty coffee, nice latte art, decent lunch.

P1180613 P1180651

December 8, 2013

Small & Cosy Tea House

Filed under: Coffee — duncan @ 4:45 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,
Tea and cake

Photo © Roz Lawson

So I’ve previously reviewed several coffee shops, but up until now I haven’t looked at anywhere that specialises in tea.  But I thought I’d write about this one, partly inspired by Brian’s review of To A Tea in Farringdon.

I was on holiday on the Isle of Skye for the first time earlier this year.  We were driving on a day of typical Scottish weather (four seasons in one day).  At that point it was blustery and pouring with rain, and we were looking for somewhere to stop for lunch, at the north end of the island.  I spotted the sign on the front of a house as we drove into Staffin,  “The Small and Cosy Tea House“.  I hadn’t heard of it, but it looked inviting, and frankly it didn’t seem like there would be a lot of other choices in this very rural area.

And it turned out to be a very good place to stop.  The tea house is an old crofthouse, which has had its living room converted to seat about 18 people in quite a cosy atmosphere… as the name indicates!

There was a wide range of teas available, as you’d expect, and some filter coffee for the non-tea drinkers.  And there were lots of different home-made cakes available.  We sampled a couple and they were both lovely.  There was also a thai soup which was v. nice too.  And everything was presented beautifully, with some local stoneware and Yixing clay teapots.

The teahouse is set amongst some stunning scenery.  You look out the back windows to some mountains, and the view out the front looks over the sea towards the west coast of the mainland.  It’s about 10 miles north of the Old Man of Storr, which should be on the to-do list of anyone visiting Skye.  So if it is, you should make a short trip up to Staffin to sample the tea and cake here.

Be sure and check out this review on Blackberry Rambles which has lots of good photos (I foolishly didn’t bother taking any of my own).

Take a look inside using Google Streetview!


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