With So Many Cafes in Brighton, Why is it So Hard to Get a Decent Cup of Coffee?

The Caper Tree's 'Tasting Menu' Danny Vice-Holt
The Caper Tree’s ‘Tasting Menu’ Danny Vice-Holt

I hate to admit it but I have a confession to make. I am a junkie.  Well, a caffeine junkie to be more precise.  Yes, I know it doesn’t seem very serious but if you’re a caffeine junkie like me, you need a hit first thing in the morning just to get your brain’s rusty cogs squeaking into action. Oh, I also need a hit when I’m sitting behind my laptop writing articles like this one. And when I’m writing recipes. And when I’m having lunch. And dinner.  And what’s the most important thing about all these coffees? (apart from giving me heart palpitations and the shakes),  they all have got to be damn GOOD!

It’s a sad fact that the majority of places in Brighton & Hove serves  bad coffee and this is especially true in many of the major coffee chains. Why so many people queue out the door for poorly made, scorched, burnt, bitter coffee which scalds your mouth  just from sniffing it is a mystery to me. Coffee should be smooth, rich and nutty with a delightful auburn crema sitting on top of it and the water used should not be boiling as this burns the coffee, giving it that unique ‘just sloshed around the ashtray and poured back into your cup’ aroma and taste.

But it’s not all doom and gloom on the south coast though. There are some incredible places to go for the perfect cup of coffee so when you next visit my beautiful city, why don’t you check out these java worshipping havens:

Ground, 36 St Georges Rd, Brighton, East Sussex BN2 1ED, 01273 696 441

My absolute favourite place for coffee.  This is a brilliant cafe which serves some of the best coffee in town. Situated in Kemptown Village, it’s bright, contemporary and as well as the excellent house ‘Union Hand Roasted ’ coffee, they also serve specialist blends such as Sulawesi, Organic Mexican, Mocha Java & Panama Emporium. They offer these as a pour over or aeropress and are all individual in flavour and character. The staff really know how to treat coffee properly so don’t expect a rush job when you order; good coffee takes time to prepare so be patient. They are also vegan friendly with a choice of toasted sandwiches. Choose between a marinated asparagus, beefsteak tomato & olive tapenade sandwich or a marinated aubergine & rocket sandwich and polish it off with a healthy slice of cake. They of course have free wi-fi and a back room available for hire for private meetings. Oh, and they play brilliant music all day!

The Small Batch Coffee Company, 68 Goldstone Villas, Hove, E. Sussex, BN3 3RU, 01273 220 246

These guys are a small outfit who roast their own coffee in the back of their shop and who know how to treat coffee beautifully well. Just down the road from Hove Train Station,they have the live train times on a screen so you know exactly when to run for your train at the last minute. I really know them through their little satellite stall they pitch up every morning at Brighton Train Station. The two guys who run it make beautiful coffee and I wouldn’t go anywhere else for my coffee  when I’m on my way to get the train. They’re always there with friendly smiles on their faces and they always remember the regulars’ coffee orders. Before they even open their mouths, those guys are halfway to making it for them. Now that’s service!  Their coffee is all organic and you can really tell the difference in quality and roasting it in small batches on site really makes a difference.  It’s also available to purchase in packs for use at home and I strongly recommend you buy some and taste for yourself.

Red Roaster, 1d St James’s St, Brighton, BN2 1RE, 01273 686 668

The longest established of these three and a real place of pilgrimage for the devout coffee zealot. These guys also roast their own beans on site and you’ll find many establishments in Brighton using their coffee beans. This is a lovely space with lots of room, comfy couches and tons of light pouring in through the big windows. They also have live music at night especially around Brighton Festival time or The Great Escape and the place becomes packed with a happy marriage of coffee and music lovers.  The owner, Tony, is a true disciple in the religion of making beautiful coffee (in fact he trained me many years ago) so you know his staff are more than capable of making you a delicious cup.

It seems sad that I can only think of three places which makes a truly awesome cup of coffee in a city which houses nearly a quarter of a million people. I’m sure there are more so please don’t be shy in telling me where they are – I’m in need of more places to drink coffee and use their premises as an office. If I keep going back to the same places, they’re going to start charging me rent!

Stay wired and until next time remember:

‘Don’t Be Scared, it’s Just Food!’ (or coffee)




  Copyright protected by Digiprove © 2011 Danny Vice-Holt – The Caper Tree

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