We all like a cup of caffeine to see us through our day. Here at The Bristol Magazine we are no different. With Hart’s Bakery within spitting distance (although we would never dare succumb to that temptation) across the car park from our office window, we don’t have to travel too far to search out the best of Bristol’s cosy coffee cabins. Yet, if we were to feel a bit adventurous and take a wander to foreign territories, we would undoubtedly be pleasantly surprised at the tucked away coffee shops on offer in Bristol.
Located very centrally, just off from St Nicholas’ Market, is Bristol’s oldest coffee house. Dating back to the early eighteenth century, when it was formerly known as Cooke’s Coffee House. Shortly after, it became renamed as the London Coffee House, before closing when it was superseded by the American Coffee House opening on Broad Street. Cawardines used 56 Corn Street as its premises in 1937 – roasting the coffee beans on site.
Today it remains, with the original features of its early days still in tact. 2002 saw its refurbishment and reinvention being named Revival Cafe. Opened in 2012 by the current owner Mark Rind, who returned to his Bristol roots, after a successful acting career in London, it is the buzzing and welcoming place that it always was.
With three floors, and a snug on the upper level, adorned with local, historical photographs, vintage and salubrious sofas to sink into, and a lively and warm atmosphere to boot, Cafe Revival is our favourite place to kick back and relax, with no outside pressures.
Best for organic and ethically sourced produce, Wise Beans is top of our list after a hard day trawling Bristol’s vintage and thrift stores. Take up a pew (handmade from Victorian scaffold boards) and soak up the abundance of life passing you by through Stoke’s Croft. Serving handmade, raw cakes and flapjacks, we are won over by their unique version of Rocky Road. A delicious cacophony of select ingredients including raw cocoa nibs and coconut. We like the gluten/dairy/sugar free/vegan cocoa bomb, made with dates — and the rich chocolate cake made with black beans is a must, if only for the intrigued and curious amongst us.
Georgina and her partner Said, both grew up with an appreciation of the home-grown and organic – Georgina, on a farm in East Anglia and Said in rural Morocco. Deciding to start up their ethical business Wise Beans in Stokes Croft four years ago, was a decision that came naturally due to the independent spirit threading through Stokes Croft, as well as the creative community and focus on wellbeing and alternative living.
On display in the glass-fronted counter in Wise Beans, you’ll find a selection of sweet treats — meaning “to warm the spirit” in Ayurveda. And this is the key to Georgina and Said’s philosophy — creating a welcoming atmosphere through a combination of their staff’s hospitality, their unique foodie options on offer and even down to the careful choice of music playing. If you like what you hear, you can access the Wise Beans playlist which is available on Spotify.
Wise Beans also features in our main feature here.
Cake Couture, Clifton Village
Cake Couture is Clifton’s newest arrival in the world of contemporary cake design. The creative venture began when owner, Anna Tyler decided to carve out a career for herself, based on her passions and enthusiasm for the edible and the delectable. Visually astute, and with an eye for detail like none other, Anna channelled this creativity into her photography, until the realisation dawned on her: and it all began when she was just nine years old…
Cake baking and decorating was always where her heart was, and on her ninth birthday, Anna was given what every aspiring cake connoisseur would ever wish for: her first electric mixer. Cue the cake making. It wasn’t until 2009 that she decided to pursue this talent relentlessly. And just recently, Anna and her partner Felix opened the doors of Cake Couture to Bristol.
Whether it is personal wedding cakes you’re after or a slice of fruit cake soaked in ginger wine and Cointreau, you’ll find it here. Anna also offers cake design masterclasses — learn the intricacies of expert piping, or simply have fun customising your own personally decorated cupcakes. If you prefer to relax, there is ample opportunity to enjoy a cup of freshly brewed Extract Coffee with a handmade macaron or buttery pastry.
We asked Anna, who she would choose to have tea and cake with:
“I think I’d like to have to tea with Mrs Beeton. She was a strong female figure in her time with strong views on almost anything. I think she would have some interesting things to say about how life is today!”
Brigstow Lounge, Millennium Harbour
Set in an idyllic location on Bristol’s historic harbourside with unbeatable views of the SS Great Britain, the Brigstow Bar & Kitchen is rated as the perfect place to soak up a continental atmosphere.
We love the relaxed vibe and the earthy interior, as well as the authentic, Bristol hot air balloon theme — and that’s before we’ve even sipped a cup of locally brewed coffee. Run by Natasha and her husband, they are also advocates of supporting the local – in both cuisine and musical artists. With regular, themed evenings including the ever popular curry ‘n’ pint night on a Wednesday, and Sunday acoustic music sessions, it’s the perfect place to unwind after a busy day at work.
“We were walking around the harbour when it was being built, and I said to my partner: ‘look at that place, that has to be the best views in Bristol, right overlooking over the SS Great Britain.’ We knew we had found the perfect place for our business.”
They are very much enthusiastic about developing the Millennium Harbourside into a thriving hub of locally sourced restaurants, cafes and bars. Their hope is that they can create a pocket of tranquility — just a short walk from the centre of Bristol.
With their fresh produce, ales and coffee all sourced locally, and ambitious plans for their refurbishment (due in January 2016), Natasha explains:
“The interior is going to change completely when we reopen on the 9 January. We will have a large, round bar, designed and built by a local guy, who is studying furniture design. It will be built in natural, burnt wood.”
But the biggest draw for us, is the location which nestles in peacefully amongst the barges resting on the river.
(Brigstow Bar & Kitchen will be temporarily relocating for January but in the meantime, is open for business).
Whether you’re looking for a quiet escape from the chaos of everyday life, a view to rival the best of the travel brochures, or just want a simple cup of local, fresh coffee — we think you’ll find the place for you, right here in Bristol.