Feature – PIEB Top 5… Coffee Shops
Coffee is a word on everyone’s lips at the moment, thanks in part to recent findings that Brighton consumes more coffee than any other UK city – spending an estimated £177 per year on the caffeinated beverage.
A recent article in The Guardian also backed up this claim by taking a look at some of the independent coffee shops, focussing on Trafalgar Street and the North Laine area of the city.
Earlier this year local coffee company Small Batch produced their own ‘from bean to bar’ video, via FatSand Productions (check it out here) and this week saw the release of new documentary ‘A Film About Coffee‘, directed by Brandon Loper. The film details the process, origin and ethos of speciality coffee, taking viewers on a journey across the globe.
We spoke to Mel Evans, local portrait artist and barista at the Norfolk Square branch of Small Batch, on why she thinks speciality coffee in Brighton is becoming more popular than ever: “Café culture is so ubiquitous with the artisan lifestyle and there is such a high-majority of self-employed and creative professionals based here who often frequent the quirky and homely cafes that Brighton is great for.
There are also an awful lot of ethically minded folk living in the city who refuse to buy into the likes of Starbucks and Costa for moral reasons. From my personal experience, there is also a simple matter of taste. Once you have tasted a well made speciality coffee, nothing else quite hits the mark. As a result of that exposure we see an ever growing number of loyal regulars that need their daily fix.
All of these factors mean that Brighton has an burgeoning market for well made independent speciality coffee and we can see this market being catered for in the new independents that are shooting up all over the city.”
Here at Places I Eat Brighton, we love a good brew, and so we bring you our collaborative top five coffee shops in Brighton and Hove.
I’m no connoisseur, and as decent coffee is so widely available in Brighton these days, I’ve based my choice purely on aesthetics – and one place that’s definitely pleasing on the eye is Emporium.
For me, the conversion of this former Methodist church into a café/bar/theatre was central to the regeneration of London Road, and has gone from strength to strength since opening in May 2013. Step off the busy thoroughfare through the double doors, walk underneath a canopy of twinkly lights, and you enter the main room with its stained-glass windows and vaulted ceiling. Comfy sofas, quirky mismatched furniture and lamps are dotted about, and a long countertop groans with cakes, sandwiches and pastries.
Despite the size of the room, Emporium manages to feel cosy and welcoming, and you’ll want to stay for longer than just one coffee. And many do – this place is in constant use by media types for meetings, while the ample space means it’s also perfect for buggies and a firm favourite with the area’s many families. Dogs are welcome too – it’s not unusual to share your sofa with a snoozing hound. Staff are lovely, the croque monsieurs are delicious and the music is always at the less frenetic end of the jazz spectrum. Worth going out of your way for.
Emporium, 88 London Road, Brighton
Holding up the Hove end of town, I’m picking Ground as my coffee shop of choice. It’s a laid back atmosphere and service always comes with a smile from the hipster barristas. The coffee ain’t bad either. Or pick from a wide range of teas (ten when I last counted), swanky sandwiches and pastries. There’s also juice and if beetroot, apple and celery isn’t quite random enough there’s even a create your own option.
It can be busy and noisy here, so not always the best place for a formal conversation but I tend to take business contacts as it’s near to the office. When it comes to coffee, convenience is a big deal; for who can think clearly before the morning’s zombie shuffle over the road for a caffeine hit?
There’s also a Ground coffee shop in Kemptown if you don’t find yourself in Hove.
84 Church Rd, Hove BN3 2EB and 34-36 St George’s Rd, Brighton, East Sussex BN2 1ED
My favourite coffee shop in Brighton has to be our very own chain; Small Batch Coffee. The very fact Brighton has a coffee chain to rival Starbucks et al speaks volumes. Although they have spread to many locations across our city, my favourite has to be under My Hotel in Jubilee Square.
As with a lot of good reviews it’s the little things that count, such as their distinctive wood panelling that adorns each cafe, the range of freshly baked cakes, the good music and of course their coffee.
Small Batch import, roast and grind all their coffee in house so you get a very unique cup and although they supply many local restaurants and cafes across the city, you can’t beat getting their coffee from the source.
Plot twist: I don’t really drink caffeinated coffee and this is real reason why I love Small Batch. Instead of having decaffeinated coffee from a separate bag or worse a sachet, they take care in grinding a completely different bean that has been treated in natural way to reduce that dastardly caffeine. So thank you, Small Batch, for not making me go completely bonkers whilst enjoying my favourite cup.
Small Batch Coffee, numerous sites across Brighton and Hove.
Please note, Cafe Metropolis has since closed down.
As the regeneration of London Road continues, we are now spoilt for choice when looking for a coffee or a cafe. I was initially attracted to Metropolis by its Gothic feel and I wondered if professional gamblers or local mobsters used to meet there to discuss business. In reality, Cafe Metropolis is a lightly French themed café, with prints of Old Masters on the walls that attracts older rich ladies and their lapdogs as well as hipsters.
The staff are never without a smile and as a fully paid-up hot chocoholic I can revel in the fact that Cafe Metropolis make a decent cup. The homemade cakes are always up to scratch. In my opinion carrot cake is always a good measure how good the bakes are, and Metropolis passes with flying colours. They do some fine looking sandwiches too. Overall it’s a nice vibe that attracts me and reading the paper here with a hot chocolate and a croissant is a great start to the day.
Cafe Metropolis, 50 Preston Road, Brighton
Mr Wolfe is a sanctuary for me. Living two minutes away, the gorgeous, chic coffee shop is a shelter from the slog of day to day life and deadlines. Editing, writing and spending what sometimes feels like every day inside tied to your laptop can be insular, and Mr Wolfe often provides a welcome break and change of scenery. I adore the cosiness, chalk board menus and laid back atmosphere.
There is nothing I enjoy more than sipping on a pot of their quaintly presented green tea from the long-established Kent and Sussex Tea Co and burying my head in a newspaper, book or similar. I don’t drink coffee but can appreciate the thought behind using Monmouth: ethical, organic and the company trade directly with farmers.
If excellent hot drinks aren’t enough to tempt you, the homemade cakes and light bites are also worth a look.
Mr Wolfe: a timeless classic and an asset to the independent coffee scene in Brighton and Hove.
Mr Wolfe, 15 Montpelier Place, Brighton