Best cafes and best places for coffee in Bristol

Top three best places for coffee (with a dash of bias towards soy milk)

1. Small Street Espresso

The place with the best coffee in Bristol is definitely Small Street Espresso on Small Street. They serve excellent coffee (and not Extract with all its bitterness, thank God) from Clifton Coffee and other sources such as a new Swedish supplier.

The cafe itself is small but feels spacious. In what looks no bigger than a wardrobe, the space has been arranged so as to fit up to 12. When I visited with a toddler and a friend I felt very comfortable and I am not a fan of being crowded.

There is no vintage, no shoe shine, no tea cups with flowers, just good (excellent) coffee and wonderful Hart’s bakery treats alongside very tasty cakes.

Billions of bonus points for not only knowing how to treat soy well (lovingly and sweetly) they also have special import Bonsoy milk which so delicate and light that it makes your heart swell and face tingle with pleasure and even with physical delight. I have only had a soy flat white this good before at Flat White in London.

From Bristol Culture who voted it "Best new cafe of 2012"
From Bristol Culture who voted it “Best new cafe of 2012”

2. Flinty Red

Breakfast at Flinty RedWhen they have soy milk: they make the most excellent coffee with the best pastries in Bristol. Harts Bakery do the best custard tarts and pretty great everything else but Flinty Red do exquisite and delicious, delicate but sumptuous pastries that are fit for celebrating the beginning of the most beautiful love affair let alone the start to a day. I am not exaggerating, try them.

And to continue with the love affair motif, I once saw Tristan Sturrock walk by while I sipped my black coffee (no soy milk) and ate my most delectable apricot danish with its wonderful sweet glazing and delightful icing. The Old Vic setting on King Street has some heart-skipping benefits.

3. Rubicon Too.

Really nice soy latte, cheap and tasty. Untitled

Comfortable and spacious and pleasant.





4. Cafe Kino in Stokes Croft

Excellent soy lattes.

Some places that seem to be nice cafes but …

1. Birdcage

No, never. See article.  Also: “vintage”.

2. Papadeli

Excellent in everything apart from soy milk for their coffees (please try Bonsoy and note the instructions on the pack).

3. The Bristolian

Not only are they bad at soy milk but I actually received a lecture about how good quality coffee makes the soy milk curdle. The first soy latte I requested came with dairy milk; the second was curdled and I had to listen to a lecture; the third coffee was black at my request and it was too bitter – Extract coffee.

A big no for the Bristolian. Mark Taylor from the Bristol Post – the best food reviewer in Bristol – also gave a thumbs down to the Bristolian coffee. On the day I went, admittedly their opening day, they also had decaf coffee from Tesco. I don’t know whether they have updated their selection.

4. Spicer and Cole

Three visits. Two curdled soy lattes. Indifferent service.

5. Mud Dock Deli

Great location, two curdled soy lattes. Terrible and indifferent service. The first time I visited it was in the afternoon, people were sitting at the tables outside on a sunny day, the doors were open and my toddler and her father went to sit down while I ordered.The woman at the counter saw me look at the menu, look at the food and then wait for her while she was cleaning for at least five minutes before telling me they were closed.

I am tempted to say that this was the best service I have had from them but that’s probably being unkind. The tables also have too many sharp edges at toddler-head-height and I always feel overcrowded in there.

6. Lashings

Quite nice. I have been to a few and when I had a terrible curdled soy latte at the one on Lower Redland Road from a yawning barista, the other barista noticed and brought me a second one for free.

Nice place but feels overcrowded.

7. Lounges – (pick one, any one – Deco,Tinto and the rest)

Excellent Irish coffee. Terrible brownie covered in an unpleasant chocolate sauce when I visited last Sunday. Not a top choice.

8. Lahloo Pantry
Excellent tea. Magnificent cakes. Superb service. But this tea shop has only Hasbean coffee which is a non-coffee and too bland for me. They do make a wonderful soy matcha latte however.

9 responses to “Best cafes and best places for coffee in Bristol”

  1. So you like soy milk then! I love coffee & must admit I have never tried it with soy milk, is it really that good? Skinny lattes never taste as good as full fat so I have been looking for a tasty, healthy alternative!

    Great to see some reviews of independent cafes, I need to broaden my horizon and have my usual Costa/Cafe Nero but many independents’ coffees I’ve tried have not been a patch on those.

    1. Some soy milks can be quite nice whilst others taste closer to dirt than milk. Bonsoy is excellent and Alpro is quite good too. Provamel are also good and Dashi, which is no longer in Bristol, used to make a great vanilla soy latte with their flavoured soy milk.

      Good luck hunting out new cafes! Bristol has plenty.

  2. Have you tried the Brigstow on Clare St? I haven’t a clue about the coffee, but it’s a great little cafe and we always find it really friendly with really good food. And their slices of cake are enormous!

    1. Hi Sue,

      I have been to Brigstow and I’m not sure why I don’t go back. Their coffee was a little dense and bitter for me even though the soy milk was done well enough. Good reminder though, I’ll have to try it again. The service was really nice when I went. Very friendly and my little girl happily ran around for a while exploring.

  3. While I agree that Spicer and Cole (and other places who do Extract) aren’t very good at all, I think that it’s not though fault of the coffee. I have had the same coffee at Spicer and Cole and at Wild at Heart and there is a world of difference. While WAH don’t do soya milk, I recommend you try an extract soya latte maybe at Colonna and Small’s in Bath, or get them to show you around the roastery and make you a coffee themselves. It’s actually really very good!

    1. I’ve been thinking about your comment and you’re right, it’s only fair that I try the coffee for myself. I do dread buying a whole packet though and being unable to finish it. It has such a dark roast. I will try! Thank you Laura. Some good advice there.

  4. Good luck with it! If you contact Extract they might be able to give you some to try, or maybe you can buy less than a bag. 🙂

  5. Caffe Clifton are wonderful with soya milk, they seem to have learnt the art of heating it up slowly and the coffee there is all roasted nearby at Clifton Coffee and is some of my favourite in Bristol!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Katie. Caffe Clifton is actually the first cafe my daughter ever visited when she was just days old. I think most things there are wonderful but their coffee has been disappointing. Maybe it’s better now. I’ll try again.

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