Aberdeen really isn’t that big a place, so you’d think I would have managed to visit all of its coffee shops in the three years that I’ve lived here – but think again! Not only are new ones popping up seemingly every time I walk a rarely visited street, but I also discover their presence on frequent routes… where they had been for yonks.
I was just walking down Rosemount Viaduct on a lovely summer morning, enjoying the sun’s return, which I decided called for a celebration. My initial thought was to get a bacon roll for breakfast (an unhealthy taste I’ve developed recently) and figured that would give me an excuse to pay a visit to The Bread Maker, which I have been curious of for a while. But then I saw a banner on a window across the street, proclaiming “Shack now open” and concluded that maybe just a sit-in mocha will do me that morning.
As I entered the interestingly laid-out cafe (two armchairs in front of a window through which you couldn’t actually see anything, a few tables and chairs by the walls, and a spiral staircase leading downstairs…) and was greeted by a chirpy lady behind the bar at the far end. In response to her asking how I was, I asked when the cafe had opened.
“Oh, about two years ago, I think” she replied, leaving me baffled. She rushed to explain: “Someone had broken our lovely window – I know, what a shame! – but we found this banner which suited it perfectly, so we just hung it up for now.”
This (and the rather badly-lit interior) had curbed my excitement about the place, but it was too late to turn back. I ordered my coffee as another lady slid behind the bar and begun preparing the next customer’s take-away order. My confusion about the whole place grew when the woman who served me seemed a bit all over the place, not really knowing how to work the till, or asking her colleague how many espresso shots should there be in the mocha – a question that bounced back to me, to which answer was apparently dependent on my liking. I went for a strong two-shot option, paid, and took a seat in front of the smashed window.
The coffee soon arrived in a simple blue mug; oddly enough though, as it was sitting there on the tree-trunk table next to a wee selection of books, that moment felt quite relaxing, or call it homely.
Sadly, the coffee did not elevate that experience; it had a smooth texture and was not too sweet, which was good. What let it down though, was the taste sensation of a slightly grainy – or should I say powdery – cocoa throughput, and the fact that it was that little bit too hot to drink instantly.
Unfortunately, it was only Monday morning and I did have to rush to work, so I also rushed the drink – but finishing it wasn’t a chore, actually, and I left no drop in the still steaming mug. And if it had been a lazy weekend morning, I might have even enjoyed a wee breakfast in that comfy – and very private – armchair in front of a window that you couldn’t see through…
Verdict justification: An OK coffee in an OK coffee shop. No major complaints, or celebratory points.