The Window may be the smallest coffee shop in the world, but it’s a mug-and-a-half full of joy. Update, August 2015: we’re sad to say that The Window closed last month. However, we understand Hayley will continue to serve coffee in Norwich from 2016.
Speaking of mugs, the coffee comes in big tall ones. For a gourmet coffee shop, this is unusual. I thought the proper receptacle for espresso-based drinks is a petite and delicate cup, or perhaps a glass, probably for reasons relating to coffee-to-milk ratios and other such boffinary that I don’t begin to understand.
The Window blows this out of the water. My generous mug was chocka with a wonderful flat white, expertly prepared by owner and barista Hayley.
The mugs (no saucers required) are one of many space-saving exercises. Square footage is at a premium in The Window, which Hayley says is probably the smallest coffee shop in the world. I went to one in Vietnam which comes close, but let’s not pick hairs, The Window is tiny.
It’s just a few meters long, with a couple of seats outside. There’s space enough for three or four people, cakes, a table and a plastic bird in a cage who goes by the name of “Chirp-a-cino”.
It’s this intimacy that makes The Window such a convivial place. Hayley loves to engage with the customers, and she says she likes it even more when strangers strike up conversation (as we did with a regular). The more I visit coffee shops, the more I think it’s this personal stuff that marks out the great ones.
So this is no place for hiding away in a corner, though I’m sure you’d be left to your own devices if you’d like to be (or have your coffee to go).
On top of all this characterful, cosy kitchness is superb coffee. Hayley recently finished a hugely respectable 5th in the UK Barista Championships, and, therefore, can be described as officially the best female barista in Britain.
She buys the beans from Has Bean, a terrific roastery that crops up time and again in this blog.
As well as a flat white I tried an AeroPress. This brewing method has only been around for a few years and it continues to gain popularity, particularly amongst home-drinkers, for its simplicity, reliability and cost.
It was pretty good.
There’s a great mural outside and plenty of colour inside, thanks to art and plants. Hayley even finds space for some food, including particularly brilliant fresh pastries.
The Window is one of those coffee shops that brightens up a dull day. It’s unique, characterful, friendly, well-run and overflowing with top notch coffee. It’s got soul.
Along with the Little Red Roaster, Norwich now has a couple of brilliant independent coffee shops.
25 Wensum Street
We visited on 7 May 2011.