Colonna and Small’s, Bath, UK

A few days ago I visited briefly the UK for the London Coffee Festival, but actually that was not my main objective. From the airport I directly got on the train and went to Bath to visit the specialty coffee shop Colonna and Small’s. 

Colonna and Small’s has always been a place I want to visit mainly because of the blog being written from Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood about the shop. At the moment  the blog serves the amazing purpose of starting a dialogue within the industry, making people question and discuss unanswered questions (which are a lot!) now delving more into water science and roasting. If you start though reading the blog from the beginning it’s exactly like a story of how specialty coffee is being introduced to the average coffee drinker. It’s very interesting and deserves a praise for the amazing results they have achieved, because that’s as specialty as it gets.

And so I appeared in front of the shop that I’ve seen countless pictures of and read so much about, needless to say I was quite excited. I entered to see Lesley Colonna-Dashwood weighing out espresso portions according the recepies they have developed for every coffee offered at the moment – yes, they are using the EK43 instead of an espresso grinder. I have only read about using it in a shop setting and it was my first time seeing it in full swing so it was interesting. I consider it’s use in a specialty coffee environment an absolute necessity – that’s the only way to stay consistent, be precise and not have too much waste. And another thing I like about it – you can easily switch to another coffee. Espresso machine is the Sanremo Opera. They have three types of espresso on offer written on the wall with their taste notes either plain or with milk. Served in their blue trademark (at least for me) cups without sugar and/or the so called guetzli or schoggi or whatever it is that can distract you from tasting the coffee.

Then we have filter coffee – usually there are three choices on offer brewed using a syphon, clever dripper or an aeropress – all full-immersion methods. Again written on the wall with their names, countries of origin and taste notes. And everywhere – in the menu, on the wall and even on the sign otside – is written best enjoyed black. This is something we should do in the Milchbar and not let things like siphon macchiato be even said out loud. The menu in Colonna and Small’s is also something that sets it apart from regular cafés – everything is explained to the customer when we start from the lack of served sugar to the temperature of the steamed milk.

Colonna and Small’s is also offering another drink I have not yet mentioned – it’s the lungo nuovo. It’s perfect for people who don’t settle for an espresso or a filter coffee. But then it’s not a diluted espresso or a Swiss caffé creme – it’s brewed with 5 bars pressure instead of 9 bars for espresso and…I’m afraid I forgot the dosage. But anyway this is another thing we should try here in Switzerland.

The shop as a whole is a very special place – it doesn’t look like a regular coffee shop, the workflow is very different from every place that I have been to by now and is most likely different also to every coffee shop in Switzerland. I just don’t see a solely specialty coffee concept surviving in this country. Colonna and Small’s is a unique place that cannot be replicated, there’s so much attention to detail and thought behind everything that is done there it’s just amazing. In summer I’m having a short internship there and hopefully I’m going to learn a lot about specialty coffee. Cannot wait already!

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