I was at the CILIP Conference in Manchester earlier this month. It was taking place at the University of Manchester on the Oxford Road. This gave me an opportunity to revisit my most favourite place for coffee in Manchester, Christie’s Bistro (which is just across the road).
I first found it when I was attending the ALT Conference and back then I said:
I was disappointed with the fact that the café at the Museum was closed for three weeks, however I did manage to find an equally nice (or even a slightly nicer) place for coffee over the road at the Christie’s Bistro.
I thought I had written about Christie’s Bistro on this blog, but it looks like I hadn’t.
It appears to be an old library, still has the books and serves a nice selection of cakes, snacks and decent coffee. It’s quiet, peaceful and a really nice environment for sitting down either to chat or to do some work (or studying).
This time it was a similar experience to my previous visit.. I went to the counter, ordered my coffee and was asked to sit down and they would bring the coffee.
The coffee was well made. I had a flat white, and it was really nice.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that the coffee drinking experience at motorway services leaves a lot to be desired. More often then not, I will avoid buying coffee at service stations. Sometimes they get it just wrong. Even with the big chains the quality of the coffee and service can be very different to that of the high street. The environment is often busy and messy, usually I need to clear the table myself!
Having said all that I did have a really nice coffee drinking experience at the independent Gloucester services. I think part of the reason was the fact it was sunny.
For those that don’t know about the new(ish) Gloucester services between junctions 11a and 12 on the M5. Unlike any other motorway service area, they don’t have franchises. They use local produce and have a huge farm shop selling a range of delicious looking food and drink (and crafts). They also have a eatery, called the “Kitchen” where food and drink can be purchased.
I ordered a flat white and enjoyed drinking it outside on the terrace by the lake in the sun.
Now that was a nice coffee drinking experience.
Flying with EasyJet I knew that when I asked for an espresso that was highly unlikely to be a proper espresso. The kind that is made with high pressure nearly boiling water through coffee grounds. That kind wouldn’t be done on a plane, there are probably safety issues. This kind was made from a packet, an instant espresso, well one with fine coffee grounds in it.
Having said that I was a little perplexed and surprised when I was asked if I wanted milk with my espresso.
Ah, I think not.
This happened both on the outward and the return flights.
Knowing my proclivity for coffee on a recent visit to Lincoln, Marcus and Kerry who I was visiting for a meeting took me to a wonderful little coffee bar (well they sell coffee and alcohol) called Coffee Aroma. They had asked if I wanted coffee, either near to our main meeting, or did I mind going a bit further for a better coffee. I of course opted for the better coffee.
It was a lovely day and it wasn’t that far before we arrived at Coffee Aroma. It was early in the day, so the seating outside was empty and inside the place was quiet and peaceful.
It had a real hipster feel to the place and I did feel slightly out of place (as I am no hipster). Inside it reminded me though very much of the cafes I would visit when I regularly went to Italy in the 1990s. These little coffee places would serve wonderful coffee during the day, along with snacks and sandwiches, but by the early evening most people would turn to alcoholic drinks and would be drinking wine, spirits and occasionally a beer.
We ordered our coffees and I went with a Cortado, which was served as I expected in a glass, not expected was the glass of water and the wooden board upon which both were served. The barista took his time to make our drinks and did so with real care.
We went upstairs for our pre-meeting and the walls were covered in sheets of music and notes. There was a choice of seating arrangements, soft chairs, benches, sofas as well as some “normal” table and chairs.
It was a great place for a meeting and the coffee was excellent. I really found it smooth and full of flavour and the hipster barista had done a great job. It’s a pity that I don’t get to Lincoln that often, as I could see myself being a regular customer of this place.
What name do you give the barista?
I normally choose Benedict as there are too many people called James. I have found that this naming practice started off in Starbucks which I don’t frequent very often, has spread to other coffee places including some independent coffee shops.
So do you use your name or someone else’s when ordering coffee?