14 September 2023

The Oxford Caffeine Chronicles: NewGround Coffee, Ship Street

It's always great when a favourite coffee shop breaks new ground...especially when that coffee shop is Oxford's NewGround, where social responsibility meets superb coffee. I visit their Headington roastery most times I'm back in Oxford and now they have a shiny new café and wine bar in the city centre.

Back in town for Oxford Open Doors last weekend — and to see my parents, of course — I was in real need of caffeine after a busy morning of visiting 16th-century painted rooms, swing bridges and the like. It was a sweltering Indian summer Saturday and I was also desperate for air conditioning. Luckily, NewGround offered both in spades.

The new café is located on Ship Street, just off Cornmarket Street and near the back of the Covered Market in the heart of the historic city centre. Decades ago, I remember visiting the Russell & Bromley shoe shop that once occupied half of the premises; the other is now home to the Jericho Cheese Company. There was scaffolding up outside during my visit so NewGround's entrance was slightly hidden but luckily, I knew what I was looking for.

Inside, the monochrome colour scheme is similar to the roastery but with more black accents than lighter tones. The main seating area is spacious with comfy bench seating along the wall and elevated tables next to the long, sleek counter. There are also coffee plants on the tables — you can actually buy these (as well as pastries and retail bags of coffee beans) and they look more successful than my last poor Coffea arabica plant.

As for the coffee, I opted for both a hand-brewed coffee and a piccolo. There were three single-origin coffees available as a pourover: NewGround coffees from Rwanda and Ethiopia and a Burundian coffee from Spanish guest roaster Nomad. I decided to go for the guest coffee for my pourover and a Colombian NewGround coffee for my piccolo (there was also a guest espresso available from Nomad).

I'd just about managed to cool down by the time my coffees arrived, served on black trays to match the table. The piccolo, which I drank first, was smooth and sweet with lovely blackberry notes and excellent latte art. By then, my filter coffee had cooled slightly so I could taste the really intense juicy melon flavours. It was the perfect way to cool down.

NewGround's new location is a coffee shop by day and will stay open into the night as a wine bar. I took a peek downstairs at the bottle store and merch stand, where there will also be more seating soon. I love coffee shops that transform at different times of the day (just like Patent Coffee in NYC) and I am looking forward to returning to NewGround to see its 'Clark Kent' moment!

NewGround Coffee. 6 St Michael's Mansion, Ship Street, Oxford, OX1 3DE. Website. Instagram.

For more of my speciality coffee recommendations for Oxford, check out my Oxford coffee city guide, originally compiled in 2016, but regularly updated.

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