08 June 2021

Five Speciality Coffee Shops To Visit in Canterbury and Whitstable

I wrote last week about my recent long weekend trip to Canterbury, with several side trips to the Kent coast. I brought my Aeropress with me, as I wasn't sure how much the bank holiday and COVID would combine to affect coffee shop opening hours, but I found several great coffee spots in Canterbury and Whitstable, all but one of which roast their own coffee. Read on to find out more and for a handy map.


Fond Coffee

I don't always follow the instructions on A-boards, but something about Fond Coffee's sign on the High Street sent me heading down White Horse Lane, even though I had a date with a cathedral. I'm glad I did because at the end of the alley, round on Jewry Lane, I found a delightful coffee shop inside the Fruitworks co-working space. It's a community hub as well as a coffee spot: the calendar on the wall highlighted events of national importance (lockdown easing) and local importance ('Charlie's birthday — bring cake') and, well, other types of event ('National Mackerel Day — bring fish').

Fond Coffee has been roasting for several years but opened in Fruitworks in March 2020. The café is in a large room, with the counter in one corner, the kitchen at the back, and various configurations of tables and chairs. There are also a couple of small tables out front. I was short on time but I really wanted to try the featured filter coffee, a washed coffee from Yunnan, China, which tasted like toffee apples when brewed through the V60. Espresso-based drinks featured a Peruvian variety. I'd hoped to return at the end of the day to try this and a cake, but the usual bank holiday Monday train disruptions meant I had to go directly to the station, without passing Fond Coffee or collecting a piccolo.

Fond Coffee is located at 1–2 Jewry Lane, Canterbury, CT1 2NR. Website. Instagram.

Garage Coffee

There are Garage Coffee cafés in Margate, Whitstable and Canterbury, all of which feature coffee from the roastery, which is based in a converted garage (hey, that's the name of the company!) in Hoath, a village a few miles northeast of Canterbury. I didn't have time to go to the Whitstable location, but its Canterbury flagship sibling, which moved to Sun Street in 2019, was a good place for a post-run cortado.

The roastery launched in 2015, and since then, Garage has sourced fully traceable and fairly traded coffee from farmers with whom they've worked to build relationships. Some of these stories are showcased in the café, and on the retail packaging of the eight or so single-origin coffees available to buy. There are hand-brewed and batch-brew filter coffee options on the menu, as well as espresso-based drinks. As I was still warm from my run, I went for a shorter drink: a cortado with a single-origin Rwandan Nyarusiza, which had cranberry and raspberry flavour notes. If you're looking for an accompaniment for your coffee, Garage also sells pastries and sweet treats. There are a handful of tables inside the café, and two more outside on the (mostly) pedestrianised Sun Street.

Garage Coffee is located at 17 Sun Street, Canterbury, CT1 2HX, and other locations. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Gill's Café

On the way to catch the bus to Whitstable, I stopped for breakfast (an excellent pistachio and chocolate bun from Wild Goose) at The Goods Shed, next to Canterbury West station, and while I was waiting, I realised there was also a coffee opportunity awaiting me in the form of Gill's. They serve coffee from Coldblow, a Kent roaster based in Woodchurch, near Ashford. It's espresso-based drinks only at Gill's (as well as some pastries and larger dishes), but you can also buy bags of Coldblow beans to take home. My macchiato paired nicely with the aforementioned pastry and set me up for a busy day on the Whistable coast. Incidentally, my photo is from my night-time visit to The Goods Shed's main restaurant, after Gill's had closed for the day.

Gill's Café is located inside The Goods Shed, Station Road West, Canterbury, CT2 8AN. Website. Instagram.

Lost Sheep Coffee

I'd heard nothing but good things about Lost Sheep from Mike and Brian, among others. I arrived too late for coffee on Saturday but visited their Canterbury 'pod' on Monday morning. You'll know you've found Lost Sheep when you spot the small sheep statue, next to the bus station on  St Georges Lane. The pod is a small wood and glass cube, whose structure reminded me of that of Paradox Design + Coffee in London Fields. The counter holds a white La Marzocco and features the design of a — presumably once lost — sheep, and the pod itself features some funky pendant lights. I was lucky to arrive on a gloriously sunny day, and so didn't get to see them to their full effect.

The coffee menu includes the usual espresso-based drinks, with two choices of espresso, roasted, like all of Lost Sheep's coffee, in their Whitstable roastery. My piccolo was made with a sun-dried Kenyan coffee from Kamundu Estate — natural processing is relatively rare in Kenya, and with a piccolo-sized amount of milk, the sweet strawberry notes came through beautifully. You can also buy retail bags of coffee beans, featuring Lost Sheep's b-ewe-tiful yellow packaging. I sat to drink my coffee and soak up the sunshine at one of the bright orange seats next to the pod. If I haven't yet rammed home the point, I really enjoyed my visit to Lost Sheep; it's no wonder that so many customers flock there every day.

Lost Sheep is located at St George's Lane, Canterbury, CT1 2SY, and other locationsWebsite. Twitter. Instagram.


Blueprint Coffee & Books 

Sometimes — most of the time, actually — I research potential speciality coffee spots before I visit a new town or city. But it's just as pleasurable to happen upon a great coffee shop, as was the case with Blueprint, a coffee shop, roastery and book shop. I spotted it from the top deck of the bus and made a beeline for it after lunch. Blueprint started as a coffee van in 2010, and now occupies two rooms of the ground floor of a Tudor-style building on Oxford Street, with the roastery next door. As you enter, the coffee counter is right ahead of you, and in the room to the right, there's a lovely selection of books and stationery. The baristas were very welcoming and I enjoyed chatting to them about coffee and about Blueprint.

As well as various sweet treats (I may have partaken in a cheesecake brownie...) and pieces of coffee-making kit for sale, there were some great coffees on offer, including two single-origin coffees on pourover, a Kenyan and an Ethiopian. I opted for the latter, a Rocko Mountain Reserve coffee with delicious notes of strawberry and peach. I also ordered a piccolo, brewed with a Brazilian coffee, which was smooth and sweet with a little milk. I drank my coffees on the small bench outside before continuing my exploration of Whitstable.

Blueprint Coffee is located at 4 Oxford Street, Whitstable, CT5 1DD. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Whitstable also has a Garage Coffee café, located at 21a Oxford Street, which I didn't have the chance to visit on this occasion.

Lost Sheep's roastery is based in Whitstable; they're currently in the process of moving to a new home, so follow their Instagram for updates.

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