Tag Archives: Bristol Temple Meads

Caffe Gusto vs Starbucks

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The staff at Starbucks, Bristol Temple Meads, are the friendliest that I have encountered so I was a little surprised not to be greeted with a smile yesterday. Turns out that the soy milk delivery was late so they couldn’t serve me.

Instead, I found myself heading to Caffe Gusto to buy a coffee before the morning train. I had just missed mine by about a minute so I wasn’t in much of a rush. The Gusto branch, which is one of many that surround and inundate the city centre (four more outlets than Starbucks), is found at the very front of the road that leads to the train station. Next to it is the Passenger Shed and a nursery.

I walk in and there’s a soft orange light that fills the cavernous interior leading to the counter. To my right are the tables and chairs for the customers. The light is more natural and it’s very quiet with a couple of occupied tables. Free wi-fi is advertised by the door.

A latte costs £2.15 for a single shot and £2.45 for a double. Soy milk is available for an additional 30p as is flavoured syrup. My decaf, vanilla, double shot latte costs me £3.05. At Starbucks the extra shot, syrup and soy milk are free for Starbucks card holders and if I reuse a tray there is a discount of 25p. Gusto so far cost me £1.20 more. I also order a muffin and an apple as substitute for the porridge I would have had from the other coffee retailer.

The soy milk at Starbucks is Alpro which is the nicest I’ve tasted by far. Their vanilla flavoured one with cinnamon on top was my favourite drink at Dashi before they shut down in January. I don’t know what they use at Gusto but it tastes akin to what skim milk tastes to people who don’t drink it, shit, watery, unpleasant and much like dish water. When you’re drinking decaf, as I am, there isn’t even the compensation of the caffeine hit.

I am not saying that Starbucks has amazing coffee which I choose for its flavour. The soy latte is sweet, milky (to an extent), and comforting. The extras are all free and I can ask for it the way I want it, ‘extra wet’ which means no foam. It’s also cheaper.

The muffin was the best part of yesterday’s breakfast and I wonder if they make their own. The whole purchase cost £5.60 and I am not too keen on going back.

This morning I caught the 7am train and I went by Starbucks for porridge and coffee. They apologised for yesterday’s lack of ingredients and didn’t charge me. The latte is comforting and the porridge is served with dried fruit and tastes great.

For me, Starbucks wins hands down and the service at Bristol Temple Meads is exceptional.

Caffe Gusto, British Empire & Commonwealth Museum, Clock Tower Yard, Temple Meads, Bristol, BS1 6QH
Starbucks, Temple Quay, 1 Temple Square, Unit A, Restaurant/Bar Cafe 2, Bristol, Bristol, City of BS1 6EB

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Transported: On Schedule

I step outside the Bristol Parkway station five years ago and notice nothing in particular. My then boyfriend and I are visiting for the weekend and hadn’t yet learnt which of the Bristol stations is actually near the city centre. Knowing what we know now, we would have got back on a train and been at Temple Meads in eight minutes. Instead we took a bus and spent over half an hour being driven back through Lockleaze and Fishponds.

These days I pass through Parkway almost daily and I know not to get out. It’s usually the people that get in who are the problem and I hope they don’t take this personally because I’m pretty sure they see us in a similar way. I have no idea where the train stops before it gets to Temple Meads so I can sympathise with those who look upon us as simply seat invaders.

Not all trains are the same of course and over the last four years I have travelled on a range of services between 0627 and 0900 to get to work. The 0627 gets me to my desk sometime between 0745 and 0800 and is the loveliest service. There are nine carriages and barely any passengers. The service goes to Edinburgh so I guess it gets a little busier but from Bristol Temple Meads I usually get a table seat and a carriage all to myself.

The 0700 is busier during summer but quiet later on so a seat is always guaranteed. The 0730 is a nightmare with only four coaches including first class. The Parkway people are sometimes left with the corridors and aisle as their only choice for travel and I undoubtedly have to share with someone else. The eight o’clock is not so bad and then we get to off-peak tickets so the trains get busier on their way to Manchester or Edinburgh.

I don’t seem to notice the Parkway people so much on the way home. They drift out with barely a glance back. There are fellow commuters who I chat to and it’s not until they stare blankly as I mention the 0730 delay or the 0800 being packed that I realise who they are. “The 0740” they correct me with barely a flicker or “the 0810”. One has been commuting for 19 years and is the veteran among us. My four years seem a little mediocre compared to K’s seven but then I am far more seasoned than barely eight month traveller who may be getting a job in the Bristol City Centre. I don’t blame her. I enjoy my commute but some days having three hours less travel would be bliss.

All this occurs during normal service, and while I am always surprised to say this, normal service seems to happen a lot. On the infrequent occasion when things don’t go to plan the delays seem to drag. After a recent night out in Cheltenham the driver announced quite enthusiastically that we would be arriving 20 minutes early but to Parkway and not to Temple Meads.

The Engineering works  scheduled for that evening had been cancelled and the train would wait at an empty station and then arrive at Temple Meads half an hour later. From 42 minutes, the journey lasted over an hour and it’s probably the only time in my commuting history that it felt like Parkway got the better deal.

bristol train station

Bristol Temple Meads, the site of the Affordable Art Fair



Bristol Temple Meads, originally uploaded by still awake.

Leaflets for the Affordable Art Fair are distributed at the front of Bristol Temple Meads in the days leading up to the new exhibition at the Passenger Shed. There are also some on display at the Starbucks on Temple Quay and there is much promotion in the local newspaper and around Bristol.

The thought of art being put on display and promoted is a positive one, the idea that a ticket needs to be bought means I won’t be going. There are over 20 art galleries in Bristol and they don’t charge for entrance. The most thought-provoking displays I’ve come across have been at the Arnolfini which also charges no fee for the opportunity to marvel at other people’s creations.

The Affordable Art Fair is at the Passenger Shed, right next to the station this weekend from the 14th – 16th May. 55 galleries will take part in the exhibition of contemporary paintings, sculpture, photography and original prints – and the items are priced between £50 and £3,000.

I remember being hugely offended when someone gently mocked a tour of the Arnolfini as a middle class endeavour. Art is not middle class, I protested, and it’s free to all. There is no privilege being purchased here.

The Affordable Art Fair is not free, although it is half price with a train ticket, and is limited to those who would pay. I would just question, affordable for whom?

Bristol Temple Meads, looking out