Few coffee shops can actually be based on the heritage on which they are created. I mean, the UK’s biggest coffee chain can’t claim that it’s owners met whilst travelling about the globe, far from it. Neither can the big coffee houses place enough passion into where their beans come from. Some might but with the ‘C’ word now a commercial necessity in this world it is important to know where it comes from.
Having travelled, lived and driven most of southern Europe I had certainly not tasted coffee other than this side of the water. When you stop off in Italy and witness how the Italians treat every sip like it is liquid gold there must be method to the madness. God knows, having been stuck in the heaving traffic of Rome it was a relief to pull into a service station to catch up on an espresso after driving more than 13 hours straight. Little did we know that the tiniest of glasses would house the richest of blends that locals would take a good hour to consume. I just simply downed it in one like it was a shot to be had on a stag do. No wonder we were getting daggers from preying eyes.
And you know what? I haven’t really tasted coffee like that. Until now. Sure coffee is coffee, tea is tea but have you noticed that if you really look into where that blend comes from or how it arrived and the passion behind it the taste is enriching. This is the experience I got when stepping into one of Southampton’s best kept secrets.
The Docks coffee house sits quietly in Oxford Street, Southampton, it’s shell a new reincarnation created with the love and passion of owner Dan and his partner. They both met whilst travelling in Vietnam and as time went on not only did they fall in love with each other but with the dream of one day owning their own cafe come coffee shop.
Stepping inside this quaint little shop there is an instant hit of finely roasted coffee that sweeps its way among the stripped back wooden tables. It’s aroma tantalises the nostrils as you relax in their wing back chairs, perfect for a read. And I think this is the idea, with a selection of books to read and a giant map on the wall there is always something to effectively drink in with the eyes.
I had a Cortado (sadly not served in a glass but I was assured they were on order) that simply blows your caffeine senses into another world, or as I felt, a humble little coffee shop in Rome. Reasonably priced (£2.50) Cortados can leave an acidic after taste, dropped with a little milk in however smashes the edge of it for a pleasant sup.
So, where does it all come? Having well travelled owners it is small wonder the 11 types of blends on offer each have their own story to tell. In fact to make the grade all defective beans are removed from the mix creating truly great flavours aromas that will just take you away for a while, stepping out of the usual rat run of life and leaving you tasting what could be heaven.
A local based Roaster ensures that sourced beans are ethically traced and handled with this being the ethos of The Docks values. Everyone deserves to be acknowledged for our guilty pleasures right?
And if you thought that was something special just wait until you hear about the tea, again influenced by the footsteps of where Dan and his partner trod. When asked to describe what their tea is to them Dan feels taken back to ‘the beaches of Big Sur or the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal’. It doesn’t get more special that that.
A tasty breakfast and lunch menu gives enough reason to go pretty much every day (recommending the scrambled egg and salmon) alongside a take away Roasted Chicken, Cheese & Sundried Tomato Panini (£5.50). If dining in plenty to choose from the locally sourced and home made produce behind the counter and not to mention the freshly baked cakes sourced so locally. Your mum better watch out, she has competition.
But we hear there may be a shake-gasmic delight in the form of a Freakshake. I mean, just savour it. An epicurean delight that no doubt be a summer favourite.
BOTTOM OF THE CUP
In essence this The Docks coffee shop is already causing a stir among the locals who have too many loyalty cards from the big chains bulging out of their wallets. They will go here for the love and passion put into every cup. And it is not finished their. Dan knows the heritage in which he has now become a part; Titanic talks, forthcoming murals on the walls and photos of well travelled guests are to be a part of the DNA. A social travellers hub, a place to swap stories and enjoy each other’s company, or your own. A place to gaze from the rawness of the breakfast bar and see Oxford street pass before your eyes.
Adapted from the Coffee Shop Investigator blog.
Words: Ben Glover