Nudged between Subway and Cafe Nero in the upper part of Queen Street is a new independent cafe called Devon Coffee, opened four months ago with little fanfare or announcement. My first suspicion that something had changed, was a new hand painted pavement sign advertising Bacon Sandwiches for £3. So was this just another coffee shop trying to muscle in with the big boys? What made them different in a city saturated with coffee shops and franchises?
The caffeinated alchemy that goes on in this little cafe is tended and owned by the previous owners of Percolapps, the mobile coffee van business that used to appear in and
around Exeter. Although my conversation with the owner was brief, he said that he had wanted to open a cafe for a long time, given serving quality coffee in the outdoors was
For me as a writer, first impressions are important and the very first thing that hit me was the aroma of coffee.
The second thing that hit me was the size as the cafe is tiny, I counted 11 places for bottoms including the two stools on the side wall. I was informed that in fact, quite soon they were to rearrange the seating and fit in 8 extra seats.
The third thing that hit me was the décor, an expanse of original wood paneling adorn the
walls, the deep browns and the natural grains of the wood made the place look like some
sort of coffee grotto, a secret coffee lair that you can only find if you’re not looking for it.
Although there was a bit of wait (the counter was a one-man-band), this allowed me some time to observe the friendly and personal nature of the service and admire the wood, all that wood that had been covered by the cladding, now exposed for customers to admire.
I also oggled the array of cakes in the window and peered at the menus; an effectively simple cafe menu presented on hand-written menu boards showing that this was a place that you could get Toasties, Teapig and Miles tea, baguettes and an array of coffee styles roasted by Origin Coffee from Cornwall, (at the moment) they are using a Brazilian brand of bean (which I believe was Fazenda Mariano, although I might be wrong) which was pumping out some delightful aromas when I visited.
The prices are reasonable given the emphasis on quality. The milk the coffee is made with was from Ashclyst Dairy, less than 10 miles away and the whole thing was presented and poured beautifully. The taste of the coffee was balanced, with a smooth yet bitter after-taste. For me, this coffee was lovely and in my opinion the coffee was officially nailed. Although a tad strong for a latte, I am a coffee wuss but then it is good to be able to actually taste coffee and bloody lovely coffee at that.
This little coffee shop had been included in the ’50 best coffee shops’ as decided by The Independent. And given this privileged position, surely they should have been more expensive? The Toastie was delightful, cooked perfectly with crisp bread and a generous filling of creamy Brie and lots of bacon. I didn’t ask about the source of the ingredients as I was frankly enjoying the whole thing far too much.
The entry in The Independent is quite short, as they all are.
“A classic independent coffee shop in the centre of Exeter, says Max. “High quality coffee and bites delivered with warm and friendly service.”
And I couldn’t agree more.
As I left the cafe I was able to say to the owners how delicious my toastie was and I was given an impromptu business card and left the coffee shop with a bright satisfied feeling. I had got perfect value with perfect coffee.
Opening hours: 8am – 6pm Monday to Saturday, Sunday 10am – 4pm
Website: www.devoncoffee.co.uk (events)