Coffee Lab is hidden down a side street off the High Street in what was Ginger Gelato, opposite what was Ginger Two.
I had noticed Coffee Lab on my last visit to Winchester a couple of months ago. A promise of high quality coffee. Many promise, few deliver. I was pleasantly surprised, excellent cappuccino.
An argument often put, with which I strongly disagree, no point in attempting to serve high quality coffee as it will not be appreciated. If true, then we would not have seen the rise of quality coffee shops in London, slowly slowly spreading beyond London.
Coffee Lab has a top of the range espresso machine and coffee grinder, they buy their milk from a dairy in Wiltshire, buy top quality beans, employ top class baristas. And it shows.
cappuccino at Coffee Lab in Winchester
My cappuccino was excellent, gold standard by which other coffees are judged.
It is always a pleasure to visit a quality coffee shop, where they take a pride in their coffee.
Sometimes I think, is it my sense of taste, then I am delighted by an excellent coffee and I am assured.
I queried had they added chocolate, a sin, but try telling that to the imbecile manager in Caracoli Guildford.
They had not, it was the quality of the beans, the milk and the skill of the barista.
The quality of the cappuccino was that of Shaun when he was running the FCB coffee kiosk on Platform 2 at Guildford Station.
A suggestion, remove the sugar, has to be requested. Let customers try first with no sugar. I think they will be pleasantly surprised.
Coffees are named after scientists, or at least the beans. When I visited it was the turn of Einstein.
With my coffee I had a date slice. It was excellent. Although ideally I prefer a cookie. A date slice or cake, is somewhat rich and better with tea.
When I looked in June, towards five o’clock, they were empty. This time they were full. I sat outside. I did not mind as it was a warm afternoon. And one of my minor criticisms, loud music, which was not pleasant.
I thought they closed at five, must be wrong, as I was sat outside undisturbed at 5-30.
I queried their closing time. Yes, it was five, but they did not chase people away.
Contrast with the indie coffee shops in Guildford, where they are turning people away before five with ‘we are closed’. By all means close at five in the winter, cold and dark and people wish to go home, but not in the summer.
For Coffee Lab a very long day, preparing to open from six in the morning.
On my visit, staff were Heidi and Ben. Very pleasant and helpful, answered all my questions which for them was at the end of a long tiring day.
They had opened in March, and word of mouth spread that a top quality coffee shop had opened.
For a fee, I think it was £25, whether one off or for a year, I do not know, can join their coffee club. This entitles to reduced price on coffee during off peak mid-afternoon and invites to special evening events to learn more about coffee.
Grouts are available to take away for free. Excellent slug repellent I am told.
Beans, roasted by The Roasting Party, are bagged and available for sale. But why 125g, would it not be better 250g? Details of the beans on the bags, and of course the roast date.
Contrast with Caracoli Guildford, where the manger could not understand the importance of roast date, or why I was appalled to learn the set of digits so tiny almost needed a magnifying glass to read showed roast date of October last year.
If I was to level any criticism, it is that a little pricey. My cappuccino and date slice was over a fiver. I always recommend charge less than Costa or Starbucks, but serve much higher standard.
On TripAdvisor, a couple of reviewers have compared with Monmouth Coffee Company. There is no comparison, at least not with Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden. I have tried a couple of times and been a little disappointed. Monmouth Coffee in Borough Market may be better I have not tried.
If I was to make a comparison, it would be with The Ethiopian Coffee Company Coffee Roasters on the South Bank street food market or Curio Cabal in Dalston.
TripAdvisor needs to have a separate category for coffee shops and tea shops. It is ridiculous that they are lumped together with restaurants, which they are not.
With such a high quality coffee shop, and Flat White on the street food market, it begs the question why anyone drinks the disgusting stuff masquerading as coffee in Costa, Caffe Nero or tax-dodging Starbucks? Although I am pleased they do not all turn up, as the likes of myself would not get a decent coffee.
Coffee Lab is not only the top coffee spot in Winchester by a long way, it is one of the best in the country.
Gold standard by which other coffees are judged.