Joe’s Coffee in Bristol


In New York, there are so many cafés, and good ones at that, that I usually end up choosing where to drink my coffee based on mood rather than location.  Looking to work?  Go to Birch Coffee in Midtown or either Stumptown location.  Want to have a chat?  Bowery Coffee or Joe the Art of Coffee are good bets.  Just looking for an awesome pause in your day?  Then Gimme! Coffee or Cafe Grumpy are perfect.  Bristol, however, doesn’t have the same luxury of choosing cafés based on mood.  Or at least, Bristol didn’t until recently.

After my most recent coffee experience at Joe’s Coffee, I’m inclined to say that I need to rethink that statement.  With spots like Small Street Espresso, Didn’t You Do Well and now Joe’s Coffee, Bristol coffee lovers have a reason to rejoice.  Good coffee and a great café experience is no longer left to London, but something we can enjoy as well.

I went to Joe’s Coffee on Black Friday.  After finishing a presentation the day before, I was in the mood for a treat and doing some reading in a café sounded perfect.  Joe’s Coffee is at once completely central to everywhere a university student would be in Bristol and off the beaten path.  It’s nestled into a corner of Whiteladies Road, so much that it’s not visible from the road.  The sandwich board on the corner is the only hint that you are mere steps away from a coffee experience.

Joe's Coffee

It was empty when I went that Friday morning.  I ordered an off-menu cortado and the barista was helpful in figuring out how best to make it.  A 3/4 full cappuccino cup sounded perfect and, fortunately, it was.  The space is small, but with a nice array of seating.  The pair of posh chairs in the window are clearly prime real estate and, luckily, that’s exactly where I sat.  If it was New York, they would have squeezed in a few more tables, no doubt, but in Bristol the seating is pleasingly spread out.  The layout even vaguely reminded me of The Barn in Berlin, which was a surprising, though delightful connection.

My coffee came quickly and, despite the splotchy latte art, was well-made.  It was sweet without being too-sweet.  There was a deep almost berry flavor to the drink, though I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it reminded me of Lindt 90% dark chocolate.  The cortado was creamy and satisfying.  Sitting in the chair and sipping my coffee made reading Ultima India seem like an absolute pleasure.

There were only a couple of other customers who stopped by Joe’s Coffee while I was there.  I’ve got to wonder, where are the other customers?  Am I just used to super-packed NYC cafes that their non-metropolis counter parts are bound to feel empty?  Are people just not seeing the sandwich board as they walk past?  It’s a shame because Joe’s Coffee is undoubtably a coffee experience that many people in Bristol would be able to enjoy.  The space is more accessible than somewhere like Didn’t You Do Well, but isn’t sacrificing quality.

Joe’s Coffee in Bristol and Joe Coffee in New York might not fill the same moods, but I’m happy knowing that when I feel like reading and relaxing, Joe’s Coffee will be there to serve me.  That is, until the rest of Bristol and Bristol Uni discover this little spot.

How do you decide which café to go to when you’re spoilt for choice? this is a question that really interests me! i’m still astounded by how italians are able to choose between cafes when presented with a shocking number!


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