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.
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…
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