Monthly Archives: July 2013


I did suggest in the last review – of The Coffee House – that it would be a good idea to look outside the “Union Street” box for quality coffee shops. I didn’t adhere to my own advice, as I only crossed to the other side of the high street to end up in Market Street’s Cocoa. And yes, it was by my own choosing.

To my defence, the place looks rather enticing – stylish and atmospheric on the outside, it stands out from the painfully colourful Kebab-scaffolding-and-Aberdeen Market surroundings; and the magic doesn’t disappear upon entering. Dark brown and white furnishings, atmospheric spot lighting and a modern (albeit steep-looking) staircase to the other floor – all completed with a restaurant-style staff. After all, this is a 3-in-1 establishment: a coffee house, a bar and a bistro, and on first impressions it didn’t seem to compromise on any of those.

I suggested to a friend that we should meet there for coffee one Saturday. Surprisingly, as we arrived just after midday, the place was empty – the ground floor at least – despite the high street heaving; but a few tables got taken in the following few quarters of an hour. Our order was quickly taken – unsurprisingly, considering the four members of staff had nothing else to do – although the waiting time for it to be served was slightly longer than expected in the circumstances.

Mocha at Cocoa

Mocha at Cocoa

I wasn’t sure what to make of my mocha when it arrived either – it had a dark chocolatey colour and a thick blob of foam on top. To be honest, I never made my mind up about it fully, as it turned out to be very much on the luxury-sweet-chocolate-side and not very on the punchy-coffee side. Frankly, I did wonder whether there was any coffee in it at all.

Apart from that, it was a decent cup of sweet brew; the foam didn’t prove too be too puffed or problematic either, whilst the serving of shortbread on the side was – as always – a nice touch (although it did arrive quite some time after the coffees).

I suppose Cocoa is indeed more of a dinery than a coffee shop and should be judged as such; it certainly provides a decent after-food coffee – but not amazing enough to make one substitute their dinner for it.

Mocha: £2.40

Verdict justification: Decent coffee in stylish surroundings. Worth a go.

Categories: Aberdeen, Cafes, Local, UK | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Coffee House

Union Street proves to be a decent coffee-shop hub – as far as quantity is concerned, at least. Just in the single square between Belmont Street and Back Wynd I had already visited three coffee shops (I think The Victoria Restaurant can also qualify) and a coffee roaster; and here’s a fourth café to add to the collection.

The Coffee House looks rather promising, with fresh décor outside and also inside, only spoiled by the bad lighting and always feeling quite shady indoors – I had visited once previously but left due to the lack of seating. Indeed, it also proves very popular, usually overflowing with customers. This should speak for itself: the open-plan venue is of impressive dimensions with a multitude of tables, big and small, and chairs and benches of various length; and still when I paid my second visit and waited considerable time in the queue by the till to put down my order I feared I would be drinking my coffee standing.

Soy Flat White at The Coffee House

Soy Flat White at The Coffee House

Miraculously, despite it being Saturday afternoon, within that waiting time a few tables cleared and seating was not a problem; but I settled for sharing a table/bench with a group of girls, since all I ordered was a tiny flat-white that I knew would be gone in minutes. Well, I was wrong.

I did not manage to finish the coffee. For the first time in a while I actually grimaced – physically, not only metaphorically – unable to contain the shock of distaste. I asked for soy milk and I’m sure that contributed to a very bitter, curdled-tasting concoction, that I found simply undrinkable – putting aside the fact that it was too hot. I added some sweetener, but that only made matters worse. I left the small glass half-empty and quickly left.

Unfortunately, there was nothing else that would have made my visit positively memorable – the staff at the till changed mid-way through my order, and I hardly got any attention from either of the girls; my coffee was served on a tray with no word whether it was ready to be picked up or, in fact, what coffee that was or for whom. The prices were also not attractive to justify any of this.

So Union Street might be the hub of coffee shops – but if in need of a proper coffee you need to look further outside the town centre.

Flat White: £2.60

Verdict justification: Undrinkable coffee, little warmth from the staff or the place itself. A definite no-go for me.

Categories: Aberdeen, Cafes, Local, UK | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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