We are about offering people the highest quality coffee, teas and food, while also being able to indulge in comfort and style within the heart of Farnham. — Barista Lounge
For the last couple of years, shops have been closing in Downing Street in Farnham. The knock on effect is that each time a shop closes, less reason to visit, putting pressure on the remaining shops.
It was therefore a pleasant surprise to find in February that two coffee shops had opened in Downing Street.
Krema I tried in March, now it was time for Barista Lounge.
I visited Easter Saturday, and again a week later.
If opening a quality coffee shop, or what masquerades as one, standards have to be high, else you fail to meet expectations. It may be acceptable, or at least you will get away with it, in a cafe or bar to bring someone in off the street, but not for quality coffee. It has to be a skilled barista, a good machine, sourced quality beans from an independent roaster.
My first visit, the owner made the coffee. Excellent cappuccino, not gold standard, a tad too hot, but nothing to complain about.
I would have liked soup, kitchen closed.
What a difference a week makes.
Owner in the kitchen, does not emerge to say hi.
A member of staff made the coffee. I was not asked what size, but I was asked did I want chocolate sprinkled on top.
It should not be chocolate, it should be cocoa. But no, it ruins a cappuccino. As does sugar.
I did not watch the coffee being made, but I did not need to, completely clueless on making coffee. Scalding hot, very bitter, undrinkable. It was that bad, I left it.
If I want bad coffee I can go to Caffe Nero, Costa or tax-dodging Starbucks.
To put the coffee in context. I later had a free coffee from Waitrose, from a machine. Although too hot, and far from ideal, it was at least drinkable
I had what was billed as vegetable soup. Broth would have been a more apt description.
Poor range of cakes and choice of food. No cookies.
Outside I noticed the drain serving the kitchen was blocked and overflowing. Not a good sign.
Ambience good, downstairs and two rooms upstairs. A yard out the back, it would be stretching the point to call it a garden, it is work in progress.
The jury is very much out on Barista Lounge. If they desire a reputation, then cannot let standards slip, cannot let anyone except a skilled barista near to the coffee.
No barista worthy of the name would have served what I was served on my second visit. I should have sent it back, refused to pay for it. My leaving it probably sent a message. Or did it?
On TripAdvisor, some have queried the extreme range of reviews, either very good or terrible.
From my own experience, this is easily explained. And no it is not being dissed by competitors. Krema is always full. Nor is it teething problems.
First, most people are clueless on what constitutes good coffee. If they were not, they would not be drinking disgusting undrinkable coffee in Caffe Nero, Costa or tax-dodging Starbucks.
Second, it depends on who is making the coffee.
If the owner desires a reputation, he has to be out there making the coffee, he cannot rely on clueless staff. And what was he doing hiding out in the kitchen? Anyone can make a toastie, grill bacon, knock out soup.
This is not teething problems, this is bad management, employing wrong staff. By all means employ as waiters, preparing food, but do not let anywhere near the coffee machine.
When I was there, way overstaffed three staff members behind the counter twiddling their thumbs, conversing with each other, but not engaging with customers (other than when customers left almost pleading with them to come back).
I can only hope they get their act together, as the owner does know about coffee.
But what use is that knowledge if you are not making the coffee, not engaging with customers?