Monday, 12 September 2011

Coffee Tour
I really like coffee. Without it my life wouldn't be complete but I rarely go to cafe's to indulge myself. As I'm not prone to just dipping my toe in, I convinced a few coffee loving friends to join me to hunt down the best coffee in Bristol town. Now I drink espressos and it turns out there is a definite limit to how many of these you can drink in a day but it is better to find out for yourself than follow safe guidance.
So after a hunt around online I had six places to visit; Two Day Roasters on St. Michaels hill, down to Extract on College Green, Baristas next, Chandos in town, then onto Gloucester Road for Bubalu and a finish at Coffee 1.
Unfortunately Two Day Roasters was closed due to a holiday and we ended up outside St. Nicks for our first hit. This was the cheapest coffee we drank all day £1 for a single espresso and the service was really quick but we all thought the coffee was a little flat in flavour, which was a shame, but still better than a huge coffee empire, cheaper and a nicer place to sit and people watch. 
Next up was Extract on College Green. I was quite looking forward to this and it didn't disappoint. Me. It turns out everyone has a different taste and feel for coffee and whilst I really liked the after taste there was a slight rumbling of uncertainty, however it was still considerably better than any of the big chain coffee and nobody disputed that.
So we headed on to Baristas just over Bristol Bridge. Now by this time we had all sped up. Two good espressos down is enough to get anyone chatting, this third one was a bit of a trial. Not because of the coffee which was at least as good (me) or better (others) or because of the tasty flapjacks or because of Soul Asylum on the stereo but rather that three coffees is quite a lot. Actually this coffee is good and we found out a little too late that if we had had the espresso at the counter and gone, it would have only been 50p. If I were you and you were a sensible sort who likes espresso and was going past here on a Saturday (offer is only on a Saturday) you would actually be evil if you didn't take advantage of this. Evil.
So after this coffee we had to head for a pint at the Bridge Inn just up the road (which is a tremendous little place) to try and even ourselves out. It needed a good pint and a little break for lunch to prepare us for the last leg.
This started to become more ominous than a happy go lucky coffee tasting tour, but Bubalu wiped the floor with the competition, which was a massive boost. This was the first place which offered a choice of bean to try which was brilliant. When the two beans jumped to three beans we were all excited. It is quite hard to compare the coffee as it seemed to be brewed differently to the others. It was a more intense hit which initially was such a contrast to the others was a little bit of a shock. But the flavours bounced through, each bean providing a different experience and when the lovely manager brought more coffees over for us to try his next premium blend and told us that coffee does have health benefits (apparently good to drink 45 minutes before exercise) we all decided that this was just head and shoulders above the others in terms of flavour.
We couldn’t stop there though but it left Coffee#1 with an impossible task. I think we'd all sampled coffee here before and it may have just been the day after all those other fine examples but it didn't fare too well on the taste. I understand that the smoothies were magical though and I know their beans have tasted better on other occasions.
By this time we were all a bit shaky and had hit the stares. I thought we would have gone the other way but we lost the ability to speak so it wasnt until later that we were able to decide that Bubalu was the winner. We tried some excellent coffee and it has made the coffee I drink at home rubbish, although I suspect when Two Day Roasters return I could rectify that and I am looking forward to sampling their range. It turns out that there is some really excellent coffee in Bristol and I would implore anyone to avoid the big brands in favour of any of these places which are providing excellent tasting coffee at reasonable prices. Go now.

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