In a nutshell:
-Awarded ‘Best Coffee Shop in Europe’, 2016
-A pioneering force in scientific studies to answer the question, what makes coffee great?
-Warm, welcoming, charming, in the centre of things
This one’s for the coffee enthusiasts – for where the South West is concerned, Colonna and Small’s reigns supreme (let me allow Origin to sit up here too). If you’re going to Bath, you could do far worse than stepping off the train, filling your lungs with that crisp Bath air and – after stopping at Bath Abbey, the Pump Room and the Jane Austen Museum – let yourself be led up the hill to Colonna and Small’s. I’m not joking when I say a day trip from London is worth it*
*in a non-tier 3 utopia
Let me explain. Colonna and Small’s is not your usual coffee shop. They treat coffee like a science and, when combined with roasters of exquisite taste and with in-house barista champions, the results are in the top tier of what you’d consider a specialty coffee shop. The facts speak for themselves: it was set up at the start of the third wave coffee movement in 2009 and instantly became a destination coffee shop. In 2015 they started roasting their own beans, which landed them to win the ‘Best Coffee Shop in Europe’ award in 2016. Throughout all this, their pursuit to understand what makes coffee great has never stopped. They’ve co-authored scientific papers on the complexities of the coffee-making process and the richness of their discoveries filter down purely to make your experience as a customer as excellent as possible.
“It really becomes so much more than just buying beans – it’s an education, an entire world to explore. And what’s amazing, these coffee pioneers want to take you on the journey with them”
They break their beans into three genres: Foundation, Discovery and Rare. Foundation is for entry level coffee, sure crowd-pleasers; discovery is for those curious to try something with distinctive flavour profiles, while rare is for more of a refined palette, with some exquisite blends and taste profiles from around the world. Every 6 weeks, the beans rotate within each genre. So depending on your taste, you can go on the discovery process with them. It really becomes so much more than just buying beans – it’s an education, an entire world to explore. And what’s amazing, these coffee pioneers want to take you on the journey with them.
The shop sits in a beautifully restored traditional Bath stone building with all the original features intact. Coffee magazines are displayed tastefully in an old fireplace, and coffee capsules sit quietly on the mantelpiece above it. The front looks like something rather like an old chemist’s shop, with all the signs telling you maybe Jane Austen popped in here once for an aspirin…
In the past when I’ve come here I was impressed with the coffee but always felt it never quite sat well with me. It was too acidic, too strong, too in your face. Saying that, I knew I should keep coming back here – perhaps I just hadn’t found the right blend. This time, rather than going with the house blend I chose carefully with the help of the lovely barista and – voila – I found my blend. For a person that likes smooth, well balanced blends, it was the espresso blend with milk notes of clotted cream and toffee that did it for me and I can honestly say, it was the best cup of coffee I’ve had in a long time.
It’s worth mentioning that since December is on the horizon, it’s a perfect place for gift giving – their three tiered bean system makes getting beans from here more of an education for the expert, the wannabe expert of just the plain curious. Indeed, a subscription would deepen anyone’s understanding and educate their palette further over the course of beans they get. Buy their beans here.
“Let your senses deep dive into a world of discovery where Colonna and Small’s has been working tirelessly for over ten years, getting deeper and deeper to answer the question: what makes coffee great?”
They serve fresh pastries and delectable looking cakes and sweet treats. No sandwiches, but really the star of the show is here the coffee, and this is how it should be.
All in all:
If you’re a coffee lover, you must come here. They are one of the pioneers of the scientific approach to the specialty coffee movement and they were one of the firsts to sell specialty coffee in capsule form. After all that, the vibe is relaxed, welcoming and like your mate’s front room you’d like to spend all day in. While Bath remains in a tier 2 world, I implore you to visit, even for a takeaway (depending on your tier situation – I’m not imploring you to break the law if you’re in tier 3). And upon your first sip, let your senses deep dive into a world of discovery where Colonna and Small’s has been working tirelessly for over ten years, getting deeper and deeper to answer the question: what makes coffee great? Thankfully, they’ve done all the work for you. Sit down, relax and let your senses be guided by their capable hands.
Things to know:
-sweet treats/snacks available
-Music: calm and relaxed, very much in the background
–Opening hours: 9-4pm (Mon-Fri); 9-5pm (Sat); 10-4pm (Sun)
–Address: 6 Chapel Row, Bath, BA1 1HT
Things to do nearby:
–The Jane Austen Centre – a wonderful dive into the past, and you can even write with a quill (it’s the small things)
–Theatre Royal, Bath – at the time of writing (December 2020), Oleanna is playing which is receiving rave reviews.
–Pump Room – have a lunch or traditional afternoon tea next to the Roman baths.
–Bath Abbey – a place of Christian worship for over one thousand years. The building is an unparalleled work of art.
–Fudge Kitchen – do not leave before trying their sea salt chocolate fudge. Great staff too.
–The Cirus. Imagine you’re the protagonist in Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ and walk around this historic circle of Bath stone houses. An absolute treat for the senses.
–The Royal Crescent – the famous sweeping crescent of houses, among the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in the country. A must see.
–Boston Tea Party – a brunch stop here is a must. They have outdoor seating if…’Covid’.
–Thermae Bath Spa. Save up the pennies and spend half the day here. Fancy swimming in their heated mineral-rich rooftop pool, over-looking the city? Fancy sitting in one of their themed steam rooms depending on your mood? An incredible experience for the mind, body and soul.