Monthly Archives: January 2016

Coppa Coffee




It was only a matter of time, and not a long time as it turns out: having visited the nearby The Long Dog Cafe I knew all too well I would also have to pop into this somewhat new coffee player on St Swithin Street.

I say “somewhat new” because – as the local residents will know too well, this having been known as the community cafe in this part of town – the locale was previously known as Rocksalt & Snails.

My first visit to this place was not the most memorable one – hence why I never planned on returning to see if sitting in was a better option than taking out; the place used to be packed full anytime I passed it anyway. Now branded Coppa Coffee it seemed equally popular the previous two times I walked down St Swithin, but this Saturday afternoon it looked pretty deserted. I was worried that they might have been closed – it was 4pm in the sleepy West End after all – but an opening times sheet on the side window advised I still had an hour to find out whether anything else has changed, apart from the ownership.

I don’t like crowds anyway, so first impressions where great: lovely decor – simple but fresh, with warm fairly lights and plenty of wood all around; tranquil atmosphere and nice old school tunes (cue The Beach Boys) are just right up my street. I made my way to the counter, a bit less open to public than the one at Rocksalt which I actually found a good thing. Sweet treats were elegantly but still temptingly displayed; I haven’t noticed any deli foods, but a small printed menu under the cakes suggested an array of lunch options was also available.

Frankly, I did not bother with the small writing on the menu and just fired a request for a mocha at the barista, who instantly stroke me as the owner of the place – I might be wrong, but his confident yet charming approach suggested nothing less. I decided to also treat myself to one of the many varieties of cookies and then took a seat by the window, next to the fairly lights, and the heater.

Mocha at Coppa Coffee

Mocha at Coppa Coffee

Albeit all good so far, I already started worrying about my coffee, having seen the other barista preparing someone else’s drinks as I was paying for my order. She did not look confident at all, possibly being new on the job… And what didn’t fill me with confidence was that the couple who had already ordered when I arrived, still waited a while for their brews after I had settled in.

In the end, my coffee was served by the assumed owner himself, and the sight of it lifted my spirits: served in a mug with some latte art on top and sprinkling of chocolate, it looked scrumptious. The first sip was very pleasant indeed – the foam on top was pretty dense and sweet, delivering a nice mouthfeel. However, once I got through it, and there was no more chocolate sprinkles to flavour it up, I began to taste sourness. At first, I thought it might have been the type of cocoa used, but once I got to the bottom of the cup, where there was a slightly greater concentration of chocolate, I knew there was nothing wrong with that, and realised it must had been the coffee used. It reminded me of a sample of ground Breakfast Blend I had received in a Christmas hamper and brewed in a cafetiere recently, only to chuck most of it out due to its tartiness (I am certainly a fan of dark Arabica roasts and full bodied coffees, which Breakfast Blend is not… nor is any pre-ground coffee after a few weeks of living in a packet).

It’s a shame that the coffee was not top notch, as apart from that I really enjoyed the venue, at least at that time of day and the weekend, and the service I got was nice and personal, but not intrusive. Still, the place is lacking some of the magic (including the brews) offered by its neighbours…

Mocha: £3.10

Verdict justification: Not the best but certainly not the worst coffee, and worth a visit for a relaxed Saturday afternoon

Coppa Coffee 40 St Swithin Street, Aberdeen, AB10 6XJ

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

The Long Dog Cafe



It’s been a while since I last visited Aberdeen’s West End, but this particular afternoon I happened to be called out on my out-of-office day to do a small job in the area, so decided to make the most of it and go for a stroll once I was done.

To walk back into town I took one of my favourite routes in the area: from Queen’s Road Roundabout, down St Swithin Street and into Ashley Road. Albeit not as stunning and mysterious as Rubislaw Den (to give an obvious example for Aberdeen residents), this route surprises in how quickly it changes. One of the most notable things that strike you here is Cafe Cognito, which has gone from strength to strength since my first visit – both visually, having added a terraced elevated sitting area at the door; and business-wise, seemingly always full of satisfied customers, and still delivering fantastic coffee.

But, as I discovered this time round, there have been further changes: the Rocksalt & Snails was no more, replaced by Coppa Coffee, a venue under new ownership which I’m yet to try out; and also, down past the school and round a kids’ shoe shop on the corner of the street, there’s The Long Dog Cafe.

At that time I had been coffeed up with a take-away Starbucks that I drank in stages out of a flask, but vowed to make a prompt return to give this curious-sounding place a go – and delivered on the promise the same weekend.

It was a Saturday afternoon, just before dusk, and I didn’t know what to expect from the place – no tables available, just like Coppa when I walked past it on my way to the Dog? Or not a soul because of the slightly awkward off-piste location? As it turned out, it was neither: the small cafe, split in two – the front offering seating for about 16, with little personal space in between, the back occupied by cake and ice-cream fridges and a small kitchen – was half-full, and it seemed all of the people knew each other, or were feeling very relaxed in each other’s company. The shared accent across the two halves was English, and there were a couple of dogs on the premisses, which would explain the name of the venue.

White Mocha at The Long Dog Cafe

White Mocha at The Long Dog Cafe

I marched across to the counter and resisted sparing much thought on the cakes, turning all my attention to the large drinks boards on the wall. For a split second I feared they had no mochas, as they weren’t listed on the espresso board; but sure enough, next door were the hot chocolates – a selection of either white, milk or dark variety.

To be asked what sort of chocolate I would like in my mocha already gave the place bonus points – even though I struggle making such difficult life decisions, I love having a choice! This was, indeed, a hard one; I was tempted by the white, but knew the dark one was the best option – but once both of the baristas (owners?) recommended my preferred choice, I decided to give in, despite the gentle warning it might be very sweet – in which case, they would make a different one (those bonus points were adding up!).

I took a window seat that had just freed up and admired the little detail in the decor: custom-made cushions with the shop’s logo print; cook books of all sorts to grab your imagination; and just generally, the bright (albeit a bit too small for my liking) venue with a laid-back atmosphere…

When the coffee arrived, it wasn’t what I expected – my experience to date has not been very favourable of mochas served in a latte glass – not saying there’s a correlation there, just a simple observation. Further, the colour did not suggest this would be a white mocha, although I had no doubt it was just that – and yet, when I was taking the first sip, my tastebuds, following the visual cue, were expecting to be awash with the traditional mocha flavour.

I should have noted that the night before was a long event that left me quite fragile for most of the weekend; so as the white mocha hit my tongue, I welcomed the sweetness, instead of a usual semi-bitter concoction. In fact, it was a very well-balanced brew: the white chocolate was sweet, but not overwhelmingly so, and tasted of genuine chocolate melted in milk, and not of cocoa powder; while the espresso was very gentle, just a hint that worked perfectly with the base for this particular drink. Whether it was the use of white chocolate itself, or a combination of factors, the brew had a smooth, lovely dense consistency, making it, indeed, very moreish. It disappeared in minutes.

I won’t say this was the absolute best I have drank in Aberdeen, but it’s really not far off; and considering the (yes, awkward, but) discreet location, the truly charming staff and a coffee menu I am very interested in exploring further, I am looking forward to my next visit at the Dog – and hope they do well here.

Mocha: £3

Verdict justification: Lovely place to wind-down and chill, and the coffee’s pretty good too!

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

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