Top three best places for coffee (with a dash of bias towards soy milk)
1. Small Street Espresso
The place with the best coffee in Bristol is definitely Small Street Espresso on Small Street. They serve excellent coffee (and not Extract with all its bitterness, thank God) from Clifton Coffee and other sources such as a new Swedish supplier.
The cafe itself is small but feels spacious. In what looks no bigger than a wardrobe, the space has been arranged so as to fit up to 12. When I visited with a toddler and a friend I felt very comfortable and I am not a fan of being crowded.
There is no vintage, no shoe shine, no tea cups with flowers, just good (excellent) coffee and wonderful Hart’s bakery treats alongside very tasty cakes.
Billions of bonus points for not only knowing how to treat soy well (lovingly and sweetly) they also have special import Bonsoy milk which so delicate and light that it makes your heart swell and face tingle with pleasure and even with physical delight. I have only had a soy flat white this good before at Flat White in London.
2. Flinty Red
When they have soy milk: they make the most excellent coffee with the best pastries in Bristol. Harts Bakery do the best custard tarts and pretty great everything else but Flinty Red do exquisite and delicious, delicate but sumptuous pastries that are fit for celebrating the beginning of the most beautiful love affair let alone the start to a day. I am not exaggerating, try them.
And to continue with the love affair motif, I once saw Tristan Sturrock walk by while I sipped my black coffee (no soy milk) and ate my most delectable apricot danish with its wonderful sweet glazing and delightful icing. The Old Vic setting on King Street has some heart-skipping benefits.
3. Rubicon Too.
4. Cafe Kino in Stokes Croft
Excellent soy lattes.
Some places that seem to be nice cafes but …
No, never. See article. Also: “vintage”.
Excellent in everything apart from soy milk for their coffees (please try Bonsoy and note the instructions on the pack).
3. The Bristolian
Not only are they bad at soy milk but I actually received a lecture about how good quality coffee makes the soy milk curdle. The first soy latte I requested came with dairy milk; the second was curdled and I had to listen to a lecture; the third coffee was black at my request and it was too bitter – Extract coffee.
A big no for the Bristolian. Mark Taylor from the Bristol Post – the best food reviewer in Bristol – also gave a thumbs down to the Bristolian coffee. On the day I went, admittedly their opening day, they also had decaf coffee from Tesco. I don’t know whether they have updated their selection.
4. Spicer and Cole
Three visits. Two curdled soy lattes. Indifferent service.
5. Mud Dock Deli
Great location, two curdled soy lattes. Terrible and indifferent service. The first time I visited it was in the afternoon, people were sitting at the tables outside on a sunny day, the doors were open and my toddler and her father went to sit down while I ordered.The woman at the counter saw me look at the menu, look at the food and then wait for her while she was cleaning for at least five minutes before telling me they were closed.
I am tempted to say that this was the best service I have had from them but that’s probably being unkind. The tables also have too many sharp edges at toddler-head-height and I always feel overcrowded in there.
Quite nice. I have been to a few and when I had a terrible curdled soy latte at the one on Lower Redland Road from a yawning barista, the other barista noticed and brought me a second one for free.
Nice place but feels overcrowded.
7. Lounges – (pick one, any one – Deco,Tinto and the rest)
Excellent Irish coffee. Terrible brownie covered in an unpleasant chocolate sauce when I visited last Sunday. Not a top choice.
8. Lahloo Pantry
Excellent tea. Magnificent cakes. Superb service. But this tea shop has only Hasbean coffee which is a non-coffee and too bland for me. They do make a wonderful soy matcha latte however.