I am reliably informed that a good and fair review will be the result of two visits to any establishment. Happily I can begin to write about some places in Suffolk I have visited time and time again and will continue to do so, hopefully for a while to come.
There are many cafés and restaurants in Suffolk which would fit that particular bill – I am sure I’ll come to write about them soon – but I shall start with one close to me both in sentimentality and location.
Paddy and Scott’s coffee seems to be experiencing a meteoric rise in prevalence over the past year; in fact anyone who hasn’t seen or heard of them in Suffolk must have been living under a rock on shingle street beach.
In 2007 the business began in co-founder Scott Russell’s garage with he and friend Paddy Bishopp roasting beans seemingly for their own amusement and a shared passion for a decent cup of coffee.
Now just a few years later they have 3 of their own high street cafés (Framlingham, Bury St Edmunds and Hadleigh) and 50 further cafés bearing their branding and selling their coffee including those in office buildings, university campuses and independent schools.
Part of Paddy and Scott’s recognisability and prevalence can be a attributed to their branding strategy. While their bags of roast coffee appear similar to many other company’s packaging; their supporting brand is stylish, consistent and easy to identify. The decor of their cafés is difficult to describe -hipster inspired and slightly rustic would be my best attempt – but it is spot on across their different sites; in sympathy with the buildings and locations while still showcasing their unique style. The use of freehand sign writer and local artist Nick Ashwell to bring unique, humorous touches to all their sites is a lovely touch. Excellent use of branded cups and signage in other locations using their coffee mean you cannot fail to notice what you are drinking. Haven’t noticed the distinct Paddy and Scott’s smoothness of your coffee? You’re sure to identify exactly what brand you’re drinking from the nicely placed advertising in the café.
And so to the coffee: surely a cup of coffee is just a cup of coffee? Those who share the joy at finding a coffee which is flavoursome and strong without causing your face to crumple and sneer involuntarily will understand. And perhaps those who know the utter despair to be found at the bottom of a truly terrible cup of coffee (if you persevere to make it that far) will understand even better. There is a difference. Paddy and Scott roast their coffee slowly to avoid that harsh, wince-inducing burnt flavour found in some coffees. For someone who, after a bout of food poisoning, inexplicably found herself unable to face a cup of coffee (previously one of the great joys in life) without nausea; Paddy and Scott’s does a great deal to win me back round. Whether it be a latte or americano from their café, a home made filter coffee or using a shot of their espresso in a cake I have never found their flavours to be lacking. My husband, a true coffee-snob, struggles to find any other coffee he likes as much.
Finally on to the cafés: Only having the opportunity to frequent two of them (Bury and Framlingham) I can only comment on those two. However when I say ‘frequent’ I do mean rather frequently – Sunday mornings just wouldn’t be the same without a coffee and a bacon ciabatta! Within the cafés the use of local food and drink is commendable. Though the range on offer can be slightly limited what is there is good quality and carefully selected. Paddy and Scott’s call their establishments cafés, though I think coffee house might suit better – the food on offer is always good quality, with some amount of choice but the real purpose is to have a vehicle on which to showcase the coffee – and rightly so! It is clear that all of the staff, while passionate and enthusiastic; are passionate and enthusiastic about one thing: coffee. Perhaps this is due to their training, or perhaps they applied for the job for that reason but the café staff are faultless in their knowledge and love of coffee. They, above the styling, location and products on offer, are what make the Paddy and Scott’s café experience one to be repeated over and again. I’m sure after only a year of business the staff know me by name and order – one black americano and a bacon sandwich please. (Don’t tell anyone I’m supposed to be a vegetarian!)