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.
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: ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️