19 October 2020

The Oxford Caffeine Chronicles: Bruin Café

I grew up in a small, quiet village east of Oxford, where my parents still live. Up over the aptly named Ladder Hill is Wheatley, a larger village that has a few more shops, pubs and cafes. Among these is a speciality coffee shop with the excellent name of Bruin Café, which my parents told me about some months ago. And I finally managed to visit while I was with my parents at the weekend.

I decided to run to Bruin from my parents' house on Saturday morning, a steep two-mile journey. The cosy café is located on the High Street, just across the road from a stretch of shops including the Cornfield Bakery, which has been there since I was very small. Inside, there are a few small tables and a pair of armchairs in the window, all with appropriate distancing and occupied by regulars during my morning visit. There are also some outdoor seats just next door in front of the Merry Bells, the village hall in which, long ago, I attended Brownies meetings and gymnastics practice, and gave blood! 

They serve coffee from Origin, and as I'd messaged with owner Louis the day before to check that they were open, there was a natural Nicaraguan San Jose Gesha coffee available that sounded right up my street. Brewed as a pourover, the coffee's juicy apricot notes came through beautifully, especially as the coffee cooled.

As I had a hilly and chilly run home, I also ordered a piccolo, which was also very well brewed, and a tasty almond croissant. There were also some breakfast bagels on offer, and a range of cakes and other sweet treats, some baked in house (the all-day food menu is here).

At the moment, Bruin is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but check their Instagram for the latest opening hours as they look to extend them. Lockdown has, of course, had serious impacts on many coffee shops and other small businesses, and Bruin have made some great efforts to adapt and become a real neighbourhood spot, offering food boxes, online tastings and supper clubs, and they sell bottles of beer and wine, as well as coffee beans to take home. The homepage of their website is worth checking out too to see the lovely illustrations by Leah Fredrickson.

Louis and his team also offer a very warm welcome, whether you're a regular (several popped in during my visit), a newbie, a coffee geek or any combination of the above. If you happen to be in the Wheatley area and are looking for a great cup of coffee or bite to eat, you need look no further.

Bruin Cafe. 87A High Street, Wheatley, Oxford, OX33 1XP. Website. Instagram.

For my speciality coffee suggestions in the city of Oxford. please check out my Oxford coffee guide.

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