You’d be surprised how, after four years, there are still corners of my university that I’ve never heard of. I have ventured beyond the arts complex and our dedicated library, but barely. Last week I discovered that the book I needed was in the Geography library. Who knew we had one? When modern languages students are sent to lectures in Chemistry and Physics, it inevitably results in a group of students walking around clueless, clutching one too-many library books. Or at least, that’s what I do.
I have my set study spaces, but as a fourth year with fewer contact hours and longer reading lists, I’m always looking for new places to sit and highlight the most recently downloaded article. There aren’t many cafes in Bristol that have drinks and atmosphere — usually they just barely approach atmosphere — but Didn’t You Do Well has both. And knocks the competition out of the water.
When I went to Didn’t You Do Well, I was in the middle of writing a commentary and in bad need of reading an article about Guittone d’Arezzo. That meant I needed a break from my normal study haunts. Luckily, I got that break.
Didn’t You Do Well is small, clean and minimal. The walls are white, the floors are blonde wood and there are only a few tables. It’s calm and relaxing, exactly what you want a cafe to be. The bar is tucked away at the back of the cafe, both integrating into the background and at the forefront of the action. While the New Yorker in me can’t stop thinking about how you could squeeze in a few more tables, the Bristol-dweller in me feels as if they’ve found a piece of heaven on a hill.
They feature two different coffees, a Brazilian and Guatemalan when I went, with a pithy and amusing description as to what each tastes like. Case in point, they said the Brazilian tasted like a milky way when in milk. Whether or not you appreciate that way of describing coffee, it’s refreshing to see a cafe encouraging Bristolians to think about their daily caffeine dose in a different way. There’s no menu board at the bar — they’re scattered around on mini-clipboards at the tables. I ordered a cortado with the Guatemalan beans.
Perhaps appropriately, seeing as I was reading about love poetry, my cortado arrived with a perfect little heart. Just by looks, I had a feeling I was in for a treat. The milk looked perfectly steamed and the little glass set my heart aflutter after countless thin ceramic mugs. It was just as good as I imagined it to be. Smooth, rich and the ideal ratio of coffee to milk for a cortado.
They described the flavor of the Guatemalan in milk as ‘butterscotch’, which I’m not sure I’d agree with. It was definitely nutty. There wasn’t any acidic brightness nor notes of chocolate. The cup was more delicate and finely calibrated than what most other Bristol cafes are serving. Thank goodness for that.
As I finished reading why we should think about Guittone’s canzoniere in comparison with Dante’s Vita Nova, I took the final sip of my cortado, wrapped in the warmth that only a great coffee can create. Suddenly all those readings ahead of me don’t seem so mind-numbing. If you’re in Bristol, you must stop by Didn’t You Do Well. They most certainly did well in creating a mecca for Bristol’s coffee obsessed.
Where do you get the most work done?