I’m in Bath for almost a month now, in Colonna and Small’s. And for these few weeks I’ve tasted a lot of coffees. Probably more different coffees than I’ve tasted all together in my whole life. I’ve written down some of the thoughts I’ve been having about Colonna and Small’s and the way the coffee shop operates. Worth sharing.
The menu – this is actually the tool through which communication with the customer is established. Coffee is being served by the origin, not by the name of the drink. The menu has been made with a different purpose compared to most coffee shops – it is communicating the coffee origin, process, variety and flavour notes. There are 6 coffees to choose from – 3 for filter coffee, strictly served black and 3 for espresso. You can imagine that when a new customer comes in, the conversation goes in a very different direction than it normally would in a normal coffee shop.
The shop is striking with its simplicity and yet is complicated. Leaving coffee aside, there are only a few soft drinks and a small selection of pastries and sweets being offered. As a multi-roaster coffee shop though there’s a constant engagement with the coffees on offer – tasting, figuring out the recipes and communicating. The environment is very dynamic, there’s a new coffee in every 2-3 days. Working with so many different roasters makes you understand coffee better. It’s easier to differentiate between green coffee and roasted coffee aromas and flavours, and also makes you understand how different roasts behave during extraction.
Another thing to acknowledge is the consistency at which coffee is being extracted, not only shot to shot, but from employee to employee. I did not believe everything can be this precise and consistent – the coffee dose is measured before and after grinding, the espresso yield is being weighed, the environment is absolutely controlled and completely comprehended (regarding equipment). Coffee is being used extremely efficient, not a single espresso shot is being wasted, and the extraction yields…I’ve never seen anything like that. The ratio at which espresso is being extracted in the shop is 1:2. There have also been recipes with quite long contact time (40sec). But again everything is very specific to the working environment.