Mettricks, Woolston, Southampton

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At the time of writing I was thinking, ‘I am sat on top of a frigate, or a barge, maybe even a tanker’. OK, so I actually wasn’t but strange things like this do frequent my mind. I won’t blame the coffee for this just the fact I am fast approaching 40 and trying to keep up with my two very modern sons. You see today’s location is what was once Vospers the ship builders, over looking Ocean Village marina in Southampton, now also ageing heavily compared to it’s more modern surroundings.

The cafe itself is a uber friendly cafe that styles itself out – where Chesterfield furniture meets 2017, the kind of place I would love my man cave (aka the garage) to be like. You can sink yourself into a comfy wing back whilst supping on your long black coffee. Some of the items look like they have come from your Nan’s house clearance, yet all in their perfect place and bang on trend.

Old black and white pictures don the walls, I assume of the Mettrick’s owner that show family gatherings and the like. Drinking in the view is accompanied by some Ibiza style music and I am trying to place myself at Cafe Mambo…in Woolston. It works, especially in the sunshine, and I am sure once the scaffolding is down for the surrounding apartment blocks this place will be a belter in the summer. I hear a rumour DJ’s often frequent this place. Yes, DJs in a cafe. I predicted this many years ago when the mighty Power FM Cafe (now Mama’s & Papa’s, West Quay) was in full mighty swing. But rather like the 103.2 frequency itself died a death when it changed hands. Sad.

At the bar at order the delightful lady behind the beautifully varnished wood was all sweetness and light; greeting me as her ‘sweetie’ more than once. Home made cakes sat staring at me all made previously at the Mothership cafe, Bar Gate, Southampton. I could not resist the Mett Bar (flap jack base, thick layer of caramel topped with pumpkin seeds (healthy), coconut shavings. You’ll be buzzing off your nut and quite close to becoming a type 2 diabetic but hell was it worth it. For something as beautiful and home made this was all too good to be true.

Other beverages are available; fancy fizz, alcoholic drinks and God, the milkshakes. This seems to be a regular attraction in cafes recently and God bless them. All reasonably priced.

THE COFFEE

I went for the one size latte. Slightly disappointed if I am honest, served in a Cortardo size glass, fine for washing down the Mett Bar, not big enough to satisfy my milky sole. However there was plenty to choose from on the menu and more coffee roasting choices than you can shake your beans at, locally roasted. Could there be anything out of place here?

THE FOOD

Their take on the full English looks enough to see you through the day, I can see using this ‘joker’ card for a Sunday morning to nurse a broken head after caning it the night before. The glorious additions menu tops up your breakfast creation to something mega (chutney if you please and two extra back bacon if you’re asking). Served all day.

Dinner available from midday with everything from sofa food to burgers.

BOTTOM OF THE CUP

Mettricks, Woolston seems pretty perfect, almost. Not sure if it was ‘bring your child day’ when I went but you couldn’t move for pushchairs and grandparents. My Cafe Mambo moment was drowned out by the screaming of hyper kids. Now, don’t get me wrong, being a father myself I understand the trails the little angels can bring, it was just on this occasion a little loud, louder than a nightclub, say in Ibiza.

And then there is the WiFi, or at the time of writing, the lack of it. This may not be a bad thing, after all it’s good to talk. There are times when you just want to get your head down and get blogging. Fear not the Mettricks guys are on the case and by the time you get to read this fine piece of blogging gold you’ll be sat there surfing Amazon for the furniture you are sat on.

I liked the coffee (albeit a size too small), I like the concept, food and all that it stands for. It just feels like it is ‘unfinished’, but that will all change when the apartment blocks are complete and the area finally gets time to flourish. It comes with it’s own free parking in the basement, well worth travelling for.

Ben Glover

Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕️ 

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Canvas Coffee – Portsmouth

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When it comes to simplicity, rawness and damn good coffee Southsea is well on the map (more on this soon). With over 20 independent coffee shops alone in the not so sleep seaside town small wonder they are more popular than the nightclubs that once frequented there.

I’m no stranger to the club scene having been resident DJ to plenty in the Portsmouth area. From the hallowed bowels of Bar Bluu, Tangerine Suite to the big room of Time & Envy, they all had a place in our outgoing hearts. Now no longer with us but the people live on. We may have aged (ever so slightly) thanks to the input of various beverages and the like and our ears may be less of hearing than when we first thought but the ‘Southsea Bronx’ is still alive. Albeit in caffeine form. You see the ‘bronx’ generation have swapped shot glasses for coffee cups, using each trendy coffee bar the perfect home to exchange the memories of the good old days.

On my visit to Canvas Coffee I bumped into a familiar face, others of which were heading to a day’s work in London. Canvas coffee is perfectly placed in Portsmouth & Southsea train station, the mecca and transport hub for many who once arrived here to literally rave. In close proximity to Guildhall Walk and slap bang in the centre of the student village you’ll be forgiven for forgetting your location stepping inside.

I loved the rawness of the tables, the tall ones almost pallet like with exposed brickwork surrounding walls homage to the old station and it’s fine display of imported coffee, each of which explaining it’s own origin of birth. The main source is locally blended from the the Roasting Party, Winchester. With such a close location of origin it is guaranteed to be fresh on arrival.

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THE COFFEE

The Drake house blend Drake is 40% Colombian, 30% Brazilian, 30% El Salvador. (Tasting notes: Chocolate with a hint of green apple) perfect if you like it long. Take home Drake is also available in 250g bags for £8.50.

The Sunday Roast home roasted in Portsmouth available in 250g bags and regularly guest on grinder 2 (the coffee machines are a bit like the lottery machines, all named to a particular grinder). Coffees include Colombia Cundinamarca, Costa Rica, Ethiopia yirgacheffe, Indonesia Sumatra and Brazil Fazenda. Decaf is available and of course a vast selection of home made locally produced cakes, slices and snacks for when hunger bites. Vegan and vegetarian options of course. I felt guilty for ordering ‘just a latte’. It was still special and then some.

BOTTOM OF THE CUP

But Canvas coffee has a secret. Not such much fanfare to shout out to the masses but something that quietly is helping out the locals. Hidden behind the many open coffee bags pinned to the counter stand fully trained baristas all part of a social project. In their words:

We do this by offering volunteer work experience opportunities and Barista Skills courses to those in early recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction, to build self esteem and confidence as well as developing skills.

It is more than a one stop, it’s a social library and glorification to the coffee lover with quality values that go beyond the call of duty, not just reflected in the black board outside the door. I know this because the person who served me was an old friend, a former clubber who let addiction rule their life, who now has a chance to stay on track and make something of their life. That, alongside great tasting coffee, has to be a good thing.

Mon-Fri 6am to 6pm, Sat 7am to 5:30pm

Cup Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️

BG

 

The Docks Coffee House, Southampton

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Few coffee shops can actually be based on the heritage on which they are created. I mean, the UK’s biggest coffee chain can’t claim that it’s owners met whilst travelling about the globe, far from it. Neither can the big coffee houses place enough passion into where their beans come from. Some might but with the ‘C’ word now a commercial necessity in this world it is important to know where it comes from.

Having travelled, lived and driven most of southern Europe I had certainly not tasted coffee other than this side of the water. When you stop off in Italy and witness how the Italians treat every sip like it is liquid gold there must be method to the madness. God knows, having been stuck in the heaving traffic of Rome it was a relief to pull into a service station to catch up on an espresso after driving more than 13 hours straight. Little did we know that the tiniest of glasses would house the richest of blends that locals would take a good hour to consume. I just simply downed it in one like it was a shot to be had on a stag do. No wonder we were getting daggers from preying eyes.

And you know what? I haven’t really tasted coffee like that. Until now. Sure coffee is coffee, tea is tea but have you noticed that if you really look into where that blend comes from or how it arrived and the passion behind it the taste is enriching. This is the experience I got when stepping into one of Southampton’s best kept secrets.

The Docks coffee house sits quietly in Oxford Street, Southampton, it’s shell a new reincarnation created with the love and passion of owner Dan and his partner. They both met whilst travelling in Vietnam and as time went on not only did they fall in love with each other but with the dream of one day owning their own cafe come coffee shop.

Docks Coffee 2Stepping inside this quaint little shop there is an instant hit of finely roasted coffee that sweeps its way among the stripped back wooden tables. It’s aroma tantalises the nostrils as you relax in their wing back chairs, perfect for a read. And I think this is the idea, with a selection of books to read and a giant map on the wall there is always something to effectively drink in with the eyes.

THE COFFEE

I had a Cortado (sadly not served in a glass but I was assured they were on order) that simply blows your caffeine senses into another world, or as I felt, a humble little coffee shop in Rome. Reasonably priced (£2.50) Cortados can leave an acidic after taste, dropped with a little milk in however smashes the edge of it for a pleasant sup.

So, where does it all come? Having well travelled owners it is small wonder the 11 types of blends on offer each have their own story to tell. In fact to make the grade all defective beans are removed from the mix creating truly great flavours aromas that will just take you away for a while, stepping out of the usual rat run of life and leaving you tasting what could be heaven.

A local based Roaster ensures that sourced beans are ethically traced and handled with this being the ethos of The Docks values. Everyone deserves to be acknowledged for our guilty pleasures right?

And if you thought that was something special just wait until you hear about the tea, again influenced by the footsteps of where Dan and his partner trod. When asked to describe what their tea is to them Dan feels taken back to ‘the beaches of Big Sur or the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal’. It doesn’t get more special that that.

THE FOOD

A tasty breakfast and lunch menu gives enough reason to go pretty much every day (recommending the scrambled egg and salmon) alongside a take away Roasted Chicken, Cheese & Sundried Tomato Panini  (£5.50). If dining in plenty to choose from the locally sourced and home made produce behind the counter and not to mention the freshly baked cakes sourced so locally. Your mum better watch out, she has competition.

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Freak-shake!

But we hear there may be a shake-gasmic delight in the form of a Freakshake. I mean, just savour it. An epicurean delight that no doubt be a summer favourite.

BOTTOM OF THE CUP

In essence this The Docks coffee shop is already causing a stir among the locals who have too many loyalty cards from the big chains bulging out of their wallets. They will go here for the love and passion put into every cup. And it is not finished their. Dan knows the heritage in which he has now become a part; Titanic talks, forthcoming murals on the walls and photos of well travelled guests are to be a part of the DNA. A social travellers hub, a place to swap stories and enjoy each other’s company, or your own. A place to gaze from the rawness of the breakfast bar and see Oxford street pass before your eyes.

Cup rating out of five: ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️

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