The final stop on our visit to Bristol was Full Court Press, recommended by readers and by the owners of other Bristol coffee shops.
Full Court Press is the youngest of the three new Bristol coffee shops we visited this week (the others being Small St Espresso and Didn’t You Do Well), though owner Mat is the most experienced barista. He has spent 15 years in coffee, working as a barista and engineer. Handy, he says, as it means he can fix stuff.
Mat is good friends with Maxwell at Colonna & Small’s, the terrific coffee shop a few miles down the road in Bath. You can tell. FCP is in some ways a mini version of Colonna & Small’s, with a similar feel and the same approach to presenting and discussing the coffee options. That is to say, you won’t find the usual ‘cappuccino, latte, flat white’ menu, and you’re best off asking the baristas for a run-down.
Crucial to this approach is the fact that Mat and colleague Rosie are knowledgeable, likeable and unpretentious.
Over a couple of visits I had a couple of coffees. A delicious filter (Aeropress) and a ‘short round’. When the latter was mentioned, I must have looked a bit blank, as I’d never heard of a ‘short round’. It’s the name that FCP use instead of ‘piccolo’, in homage to the character of the same name in Indiana Jones: The Temple of Doom. Of course.
Incidentally, a short round / piccolo is typically a ristretto (a short espresso, full of flavour) topped with textured milk. A sort of baby flat white.
FCP has no house blend or guest coffee, just beans on-and-off from 12 different roasteries around the country. During our visit, coffees from James Gourmet Coffee and nearby Round Hill were on offer.
Only half of FCP was open for business. The basement level, which I can only imagine was a cosy little space, had been completely gutted following a disastrous water main breach a few months before – the fault of the local water supplier. Water reached up to neck-level and two tonnes of mud had to be cleared away. When we visited, two months of cleaning had been completed and they were close to starting the re-plastering.
I can only imagine how Mat felt when he opened the shop that morning. Thank goodness for them that things are close to being back to normal.
We mentioned to Mat about how much we enjoyed Small St Espresso and Didn’t You Do Well. Mat tells us that all three shops opened in a relatively short space of time, and feel a strong sense of community. Each café takes a different approach and serves different coffee, so there isn’t the feeling of competitiveness that you might expect.
During our weekend in Bristol, the owners of all three of these young coffee shops recommended each other.
Though one of the newest coffee shops in Bristol, FCP already feels like one of the most established. There is serious coffee pedigree behind the counter, and Mat and Rosie also bring their own brand of jolliness.
There’s simply no choosing between these three new-ish Bristol coffee shops, all of which fully deserve their Top Notch status.
One thing’s obvious: the city’s speciality coffee scene is in rude health.
59 Broad St
We visited on 12 April 2014.