20 April 2022

15 Speciality Coffee Shops To Visit in Bristol

I've known for some time that I was long overdue a return visit to Bristol, a city that I've loved each time I've been and yet, like many places in the UK, I don't get to often enough. In particular, the city's speciality coffee scene has changed a huge amount since I was last there (whisper it) a decade ago. A three-day trip over the Easter weekend wasn't enough time — when is it? — but the sunny weather was perfect for coffee-shop-hopping and I managed to visit 12 coffee spots.

In the accompanying Google Map, my very favourite spots are marked in purple, and I've also included three more that I didn't visit this time but whose sister coffee shops (in Bristol or elsewhere) I've been to. Most cafés featured coffee from roasters based in Bristol and the south-west, and I was also blown away by the range and quality of baked goods and sweet treats on offer, from coconut curry pasties, to cinnamon pretzels and all kinds of doughnut. Go on an empty stomach!

25a Old Market (Old Market)

Located east of the city centre in a historic building on — funnily enough — Old Market Street, 25a Old Market is a beautiful cafe and deli that serves coffee from Cornish roaster Yalalh. I stopped by on my way into town from Temple Meads station and had an excellent piccolo brewed with a single-origin Brazilian espresso. On such a sunny day, the tables outside on Old Market Street were full but there were plenty of other seating options inside, where you can also eye up the local artwork and big selection of deli goods. They also do pastries, sandwiches and weekend brunch.

25A Old Market Street. Website. Instagram.

Albatross Café (Southville)

If you could only visit one Bristol street for coffee, North Street in Southville, a neighbourhood south of the River Avon, would be a good place to start. With its cosy, pink-and-turquoise décor and relaxed vibe, Albatross Café is currently open in the daytime for coffee, cake and some brunch and cocktails. They use coffee from Origin and my piccolo was very well brewed. As I had a date with Clifton Suspension Bridge, I got my coffee to take away in my littlest (and well colour-coordinated) KeepCup, but couldn't resist snapping a photo of it sunbathing in the window on the way out. There are a few tables in a fenced-off area on the pavement outside as well seating options indoors.

Albatross Café is located at 60 North Street, Southville. Website. Instagram.

Burra (Redland)

If you're going to take advantage of the sunny weather to go for an outdoor swim at Bristol Lido, why not continue the Aussie lifestyle with brunch at an Antipodean-themed café just up the road? Occupying the ground floor of a former townhouse just off Whiteladies Road, Burra offered just such an opportunity. They serve coffee from Extract and an extensive brunch menu. It was hard to decide what to order to accompany my piccolo, but I always find it hard to turn down a brekkie bun, this one featuring a fried egg, bacon, sausage, rocket and avocado. The coffee was great too, and you can choose to sit outside, at the window, at the sharing tables in the main room or on the small patio at the back.

Burra is located at 7 Lower Redland Road, Redland. Website. Instagram.

Coffee Under Pressure (City Centre)

Coffee Under Pressure first opened up in Reading, where they have two coffee shops (you can read more on Brian's blog), and their Bristol café is located on the steep and buzzy Park Street. The floor-to-ceiling windows meant that it was a veritable solarium when I arrived on Friday afternoon. I studied the menu while soaking up the sun at one of the window seats. I also very much appreciated the mid-90s indie soundtrack that was playing! They had two different single-origin coffees available as hand-brewed filter coffees, but I ended up going for a piccolo, brewed with a coffee from Colombia. The coffee was very good and they sell bags of retail beans — the coffee is roasted for them by Missing Bean, one of my Oxford coffee favourites.

Coffee Under Pressure is located at 76 Park Street, and other locations. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

* Full Court Press (City Centre)

Before I started researching Bristol coffee shops to check out on this trip, there was one that had long been in my to-visit list in Google Maps: Full Court Press. Mat North's coffee shop has it all: banging coffees, warm service and even a stained-glass window. I visited the bright, minimalist cafe twice, once for a pourover brewed with an anaerobically processed coffee from Pegasing, Indonesia, and then again for cake and an espresso with an anoxic washed coffee from Rugali, Rwanda. Both coffees were delicious and of course, I had to buy some beans to take home with me. This too was a tough choice, but in the end, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try coffee from the Galápagos Islands; the nectarine, melon, chamomile tea and white miso flavour notes were right up my street, and the artwork on the packaging also sealed the deal. Full Court Press is a must-visit for any coffee lover visiting Bristol.

Full Court Press is located at 59 Broad Street. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Hart's Bakery (Temple Meads)

Go for the baked goods (the lunch special du jour was a coconut chicken curry pasty when I was there), stay for the coffee from Cardiff-based Hard Lines. I'm not always fond of cold brew, but the Kuli Gap coffee from Papua New Guinea really lived up to its piña colada tasting notes. They serve espresso-based coffee drinks too, if you're already cool enough. Hart's is located very close to Temple Meads station and so a great spot to refuel before or after a train journey. 

Hart's Bakery is located at Arch 35, Lower Approach Road. Website. Instagram.

* Little Victories (Harbourside)

Due to Easter opening hours, I wasn't able to visit Small Street Espresso, an old guard of Bristol's speciality coffee scene, but I did make it to two of its sister cafés, including the similarly petite-themed Little Victories on Wapping Wharf. It's actually less tiny than its name might suggest but the coffee, roasted by Clifton Coffee Roasters, was definitely a big win. I had a piccolo brewed with the house espresso blend, but the menu hanging behind the angular counter includes a wide range of espresso drinks, two different filter coffees, soft drinks, cakes and sandwiches. You can sit inside and admire the blue-accented coffee bar and pendulum lighting, or take a seat on the terrace outside and enjoy the people-watching opportunities. 

Little Victories is located at 7 Gaol Ferry Steps, Wapping Wharf. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

New Cut Coffee (Harbourside)

Inside a large red warehouse on Bristol's floating harbour is a lovely speciality coffee shop called New Cut Coffee. I headed there on Sunday morning, in need of caffeination while en route to the lido, and very much enjoyed my piccolo, brewed with a Colombian Nariño coffee. They serve their own coffee, roasted in partnership with another local roaster, and their retail coffee offering features some beautiful designs.

New Cut Coffee is located at The Art Warehouse, Museum Street, Wapping Wharf. Website. Instagram.

* Small Goods (Temple Meads)

The second 'Small Street Espresso sister coffee shop' and the second 'pink-and-turquoise coffee shop' on this list, Small Goods was one of the loveliest cafés I visited while in Bristol. On entering, my eye was first drawn to the pink Victoria Arduino espresso machine and then to the amazing selection of cakes and pastries on the counter. Bear-paw doughnut? Ginger biscuit doughnut? Cheddar and raclette pastry? They've got it all (including a small brunch menu). But I had a big lunch ahead of me so limited myself to a chocolate and tahini swirl, which was great. I continued the pink theme with my coffee, ordering a piccolo with a single-origin Colombian coffee produced by Wilson Alba Cordoba, which had a flavour profile including pink lemonade. As at Little Victories, there were two filter coffees available, and bags of retail beans for sale. The staff were all incredibly friendly too.

Small Goods is located at 2 Glass Wharf, Temple Quay. Instagram.

* Sweven Coffee (Southville)

Another of the must-visit speciality coffee shops on this list, Sweven's North Road coffee bar is a beautiful haven of impeccable coffee brewing. As I walked in, the sun was streaming in through the windows and even through my face mask, I could smell that a delicious natural coffee had just been brewed. As soon as I looked at the menu, I knew it was the Finca Momoto from Panama, and ordered it as a pourover. There was a small supplement for such a special coffee, but the resulting brew was the perfect spring coffee with juicy raspberries, cherry blossom and rose notes (unsurprisingly, the retail bags featured pink packaging). You'll be in good hands with the friendly, expert baristas at Sweven, and this is also somewhere you'll want to save room for one of the delicious cakes and pastries on offer. 

Sweven Coffee is located at 12 North Street, Southville. Website. TwitterInstagram.

Tincan Coffee Co. (Southville)

I didn't have time to stop for coffee at the Gloucester Road branch of Tincan Coffee when I passed on Friday afternoon, but was able to pop in for a coffee at their North Street location on Saturday. Tincan has been in Bristol for over a decade and in addition to their bricks-and-mortar cafes, they also serve coffee from their vans at various events. My piccolo was on the long side (more of a flat white, really), but it was well brewed and tasted smooth and sweet. If you're feeling peckish, they have cakes and sandwiches to accompany your coffee.

Tincan Coffee is located at 234 North Street, Southville (and 157 Gloucester Road, Bishopston). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

While up in Redland, I stopped for coffee at Tradewind Espresso, located on bustling Whiteladies Road. As I don't like to take things too literally — and as I was in the mood for filter coffee — I ordered a pourover brewed with a Colombian coffee roasted by Roasted Rituals. There's an extensive food menu too, featuring brunchier and lunchier dishes. With cool but cosy décor and a relaxed ambience, Tradewind was a lovely place to linger on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a good book and an even better coffee.

Tradewind Espresso is located at 118 Whiteladies Road, Redland. Website. Instagram.

As promised, these are the three bonus coffee shops that I didn't make it to on this trip but whose coffee I've enjoyed before at their various sister locations — in Bristol and further afield:

Mokoko (Harbourside). 2 Gaol Ferry Steps, Wapping Wharf. Website. Instagram.

Small Street Espresso (City Centre). 23 Small Street. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Society Cafe (Harbourside). Farr's Lane, Narrow Quay. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

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