Symposium Coffee House

It’s been a long time coming as Symposium closes the pending trio of George Street cafes – at least the ones distinct enough to catch my eye and make me want to visit. It’s been long overdue, I should actually say, as it proved to be bang on the money, on the same level as its close neighbours.

I had walked past this place numerous times, but hardly ever looked inside, so I couldn’t really assess the size or decor of the interior until I actually went in, for an arranged catch-up with a friend. It was not difficult to find them, as – against what the name might have implied – the place could only fit three tables, plus a wee bar table in the corner; the rest of the rather limited space was taken by the espresso bar, a sandwich/salad preparation area, and the counter.

Mocha at Symposium
Mocha at Symposium

The guy who was running the show went about his cleaning business (it was afternoon when I visited and they closed at 4pm) but was genuinely polite and happy to converse when I fired a couple of questions at him. There was only one barista for the whole day, but it being a Saturday they didn’t struggle, as the business went rather slow – in the hour or so that we spent there there might have been one rotation of the tables, if anything. So my mocha was made and delivered very quickly from ordering – with a simple presentation that made it difficult to assess its quality.

But the smooth texture and dense mouthfeel at first sip instantly made my mind up about the place: the coffee was simply lovely. Good balance of sweetness with a caffeine kick and served at just the right temperature made for a drink that disappeared all too quickly.

If I had stopped there, this could well have been a five-star. But because the mocha was so enjoyable, and my companion had to dash out for a while leaving me waiting, I decided to test the barista’s skills on a flat white, after spotting it on the menu. And there came the disappointment: there was no latte art on the drink, the milk was pipping hot and the coffee was very bitter. I kicked myself then for spoiling what could have been a top-notch coffee experience, as even after adding sugar I was unable to drink that second coffee.

So it’s not all perfection at Symposium but it’s not far off, and at least they can get my favourite drink right every time – as I discovered just the other day, having paid the place another visit.

That says it all, I guess?

Mocha (small): £2.10

Verdict justification: Pleasant, chilled out place which serves a lovely mocha – but not so much a flat white

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