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