Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cawfee tour, planning.

If I'm going to investigate the coffee shop culture of Leeds I need to come up with a sensible plan of action. The first thing to do then would be to find out just how many coffee places there are in Leeds. According to there are 113 cafes & coffee shops in Leeds. That's a lot of coffee shops and I can't be sure that list contains all of them; I need to look at this list and categorise them.

Now, I'm not going to pubs for coffee; invariably they're not very good at coffee because the brewery installed a machine and didn't train up the staff (who just have to push a button anyway). But there's a couple of places which blur the line a little, more like a continental cafe that happens to serve beer as well as food and coffee so I need to take these into account as well. I can reject all the big chains - Starbucks, Costa, Nero, Caffe Latino - as well as the greasy spoons, and places that are obviously just restaurants.

But... what about the small chains? I'm not going to more than one Bagel Nash, partially because there's loads of them but also because I know already that their coffee isn't brilliant. What about Opposite Coffee, though? They only have two locations (that I know of), in the Victoria Quarter and their home base opposite the Parkinson Building on Woodhouse Lane. Should I go to both? What of Casa Mia? Do all their shops do coffee in the same way?

Looking at the locations it seems like the tour will have a couple of distinct centres (I'll knock up a OpenStreetMap dodad with them on - coffee shops are quite clustered); Holbeck Urban Village, The Calls & Corn Exchange (with a step off the beaten track towards Hob at Clarence Dock), University, Chapel Allerton and finally Headingley. There's a couple of city centre places (Pickles & Potter, for example) that I'll be poking my nose in and I will, for the sake of completeness, get one drink in one location of each of the chains - given that there's at least seven Starbucks in Leeds I don't need to go to all of them - just for comparison purposes.

I'm not going any further out than Headingley, by the way (and if I make it there I'll be surprised). Horsforth and West Park will have to wait.

Right, let's sort out this list...


  1. Hmmm - as a chain Caffe Nero care more about coffee than Bagel Nash (who are more than Leeds-based now). Why not do 'the best' of each of the chains, or no chains at all...

  2. And don't forget situated on Call Lane. A true Barista from Milan.

  3. Bagel nash are not a coffee shop- they are a bagel shop, but you are right, their coffee is fairly S**t.

    The two opposite coffee shops (that is all there is) are different. The original one at the uni is good but mainstream for the students. The one in the VQ is up market and has premium blends- worth a stop in my opinion.

    My view on chains is that only visit one shop per chain- the point of being a chain is consistency across the brand.

    And like Bakelady says- you must visit Bottega Milanese, along with opposite its is one of the best coffee shops in the city.

    Thats enough from me!

  4. There's Just Bean (I think it's called) down by the Corn Exchange opposite the organic shop, next to where Games Workshop used to be. they do damn fine coffee, though are just a hole-in-the-wall place, so not sure if it fits your criteria.

    Definitely worth calling by though.