I have been told by someone living in the area that Hammerton Store is the place you want to be your corner store – which would indicate you’re doing well in life. Located in the West End, it looks elegantly understated, with the black facade and modern writing, liking it to an M&S you’d find in the centre of London – and, apparently, the prices of the goods within match that comparison (based on third-party feedback).
As a result of the pandemic I have walked further and farther within Aberdeen than I ever felt would be necessary, and I certainly have my favourite routes by now: crossing the West End is one of them. I have passed Hammerton on several occasions, once or twice stopping by – but only for a quick window shop, as I was never in the right “lux-grocery-stock-up” kind of mood to don a mask and venture in.
However, having decided to run a Coffee in Covid series, I also decided this would be my first destination – mainly because the idea came to me as I was passing it on a Sunday afternoon on my way back from a very long walk down the Old Railway line – having just missed its opening hours.
The day of my visit was in that sunny week of February; I was lucky with my timing as there was only one person waiting around to pick up their coffee – I often see queues to this place.
In line with the regulations, orders were taken and served on a table at the door, although a note to the side suggested a separate entrance could be used for grocery shopping. The ordering point was spacious and airy, while giving a good view inside the shop when you were the first in line. As I approached, the only shop assistant visible was finishing the other customer’s drink, but soon she was joined by a colleague who took over the coffee-making duties behind the bar, freeing her up to take and serve the orders – much more efficient in their setup.
Since there is little to comment in terms of atmosphere, crockery or presentation when it comes to take-away coffees, I’ve decided to up the bar a notch by – at the risk of being accused of jumping on the fad train – requesting a milk-alternative for my mochas. Side note: I have been advised by a medical practitioner to trial reducing my dairy intake, so I ask to be excused for this shift to milk alternatives. I’m sure some (many?) of you will appreciate this extra bit of info anyway…
The assistant at Hammerton advised they had “pretty much all the dairy alternatives – except that almond doesn’t froth well.” I’ve nodded to this comment, and to the memories from personal experience. The home coffee machine has been experiencing its second youth during the pandemic… I decided to go for good old soya on this occasion.
There was a rotation of people ordering and picking up, but all naturally assumed and very orderly – I think we are developing a second nature of respecting one another’s space. My coffee was ready within a few minutes, a time I passed soaking up the sunshine from the miraculous clear blue skies – wondering how places like these must hurt on rainy days when no one wants to get wet or cold waiting for their coffee in a paper cup…
But onto the taste test! It looked like a bit of thicker foam under the lid than I would have liked but the substance was there with the first sip (rather than tasting flavoured bubbles!). It was a bit on the hot side, but still within drinking limit. The taste was bitter-sweet-ish, and it had the slightest powdery texture on the tongue – nothing aggressive or off-putting but not quite the silky smooth concoction I’d call a perfect brew.
Overall, it was a very pleasurable companion for the following 10 minutes as I continued my West End walk.
I’m looking forward to the lockdown easing, as in the warmer months Hammerton sets out tables with parasols outside its shop – and it really looks like an extract from Shepherd Market, transplanted into Aberdeen. I’ll happily come back for a sit down coffee then (and maybe even some grocery shopping – we’ll have to celebrate after all!)
Service with a smile, choice of milk alternatives and a lovely cup of coffee. Definitely worth taking it for a spin!
Find out more on Hammerton Store’s website.