Monthly Archives: April 2015

Bean For Coffee?

I feel like I need to set the matter straight: it is true that the weather in the north-east of Scotland is far from ideal; I often feel cheated seeing the high temperatures in the south and wonder if it will ever get warm enough to venture into Aberdeen in shorts and T-shirt. And yet, on a bonnie day all is forgotten – and Aberdeenshire has been quite generous in serving those in the month of April.

That sunny, blue-sky Saturday morning called for a road trip – and, as promised quite recently, it had to be Ballater, as there was a new walk to be done and an old coffee shop to be checked out again. Like last time, I felt my stomach demanding attention upon my arrival and was once again heading for The Bothy to address that; but on my way I was arrested by a quirky-named cafe Bean For Coffee? After short consideration I decided to leave The Bothy be, and stepped inside the deceivingly-narrow and very bright venue.

Mocha at Bean For Coffee?

Mocha at Bean For Coffee?

I instantly felt positive energy running through this place – maybe its a Ballater thing for baristas to seem so relaxed and happy every day (or maybe it’s just the weather). The customers also seemed to have slowed down, enjoying low-voice conversations or reading a paper, soaking up the sunshine – as I entered, there was no queue and one an order was being finalised. For the lack of pastries I requested an interesting sounding blueberry and lemon scone with a mocha, served as a £4.50 deal. The narrow cafe started with a few windowsill tables and two counters with savoury and sweet food, and then extended into an indoor sitting area; but  I decided to sit at one of the three tables outside – the only one that was free – as my order was meant to be served to me.

Sure enough, two minutes later I was one of the crowd: slowing down, sitting back, munching my scone and feeling vitamin D rushing through my veins. But what about the coffee? It was OK to accompany the scone, but lacking a punch – either in terms of chocolatey sweetness or caffeine. Stirring the brew added a bit of flavour to it, but also exposed a grainy texture from undissolved cocoa.

I did drink the whole coffee and ate half the scone (I took the other half away in case I felt peckish during my walk) and as quickly as I arrived, I was off to enjoy some active time around the River Dee. Because of the lovely service and venue I’d say I’d definitely be back – but who knows what place will attract me next when I’m visiting Ballater!

Mocha: £2.75

Verdict justification: An OK coffee lacking strong flavours, but good service and nice venue – worth a visit!

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

The Bothy

When it turns 20ºC in north of Scotland in April, you don’t know whether to call it spring or summer – but you will be wise enough to spend that day outdoors, because you know this phenomenon won’t happen often in the course of the year.

Such glamorous weather had happened to struck this part of the world on Easter Sunday; no more excuses needed for some family time off in the sunshine. To be precise, I’ve ended up among the families – on a solitary trip to Ballater.

When I had enquired about more destinations where I could go for a reasonable drive and a not-too-strenuous walk, this was the place, according to the locals. A 90min drive from Aberdeen (a very pleasant one in the aforementioned weather conditions), the town has plenty of charm as much in its little shops and cafes as in the surrounding greenery – including a golf course that made me want to pick up the sport.

A 90min drive is also enough for one to work up their appetite, and I had been also given a recommendation to address that: “If you’re having brunch, The Bothy is the place to go,” I heard. And so, I followed.

Mocha at The Bothy

Mocha at The Bothy

The place was heaving – unsurprisinly, as I arrived bang on midday – but for some reason no one decided to sit at the two wee tables outside, which to me seemed a no-brainer on a day like that. I did have a small breakfast that morning, but was about to walk the steep Craigendarroch Hill overlooking the surrounding area, so thought I might as well indulge – and went for a walnut cake and, naturally, a mocha.

It was a pay-and-pick-up system inside, so I had to wait at the counter for my order, hoping no one would snatch my seat outside in that time. Because of the business of the place it was, indeed, a bit of a wait as there was a lot of semi-frantic movement behind the counter, with two baristas trying to make coffee at the same time, and hot food orders being sorted also – but all in good spirits and smiles all around.

I was glad to take my coffee (also smiling) away from the commotion and into the fresh air. I was curious of its taste as I had seen it being prepared: cocoa scooped into the jug with milk before frothing; I had seen this before, but with various results. The Bothy mocha had a nice foam and texture, and good sweetness – but the thing lacking was a caffeine punch. I overheard my barista say to the other when they swapped places at the coffee machine that she needed one shot of espresso poured for my coffee – sadly, for the size of the cup that one shot was not enough.

Other than that, the experience was quite nice overall, but hard to judge in such extreme circumstances as an Easter Sunday – on the other hand, the staff have to be applauded for keeping their smiles on despite the business; and whenever good weather strikes again, I’m bound to revisit the place, hopefully when it’s a bit quieter inside too.

Mocha: £2.45

Verdict justification: Not bad coffee but needing more caffeine; pleasant staff and good menu.

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

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