Bold Street in Liverpool has a bit of a bohemian feel – vintage clothes and record shops line the street. But it also has the best in town for coffee and tea.
I’m not sure I’d ever actually walked up Bold Street before, but it was definitely my destination as soon as I got to Liverpool. Bold Street Coffee is being talked about across the North of England as THE place to go for coffee these days if you hit the ‘pool.
And having been there now, I can confirm, of the half dozen coffees I had in 36 hours (yes, far too much caffeine this time), it was the best. The Has Bean roaster in Stafford also has a good reputation so the beans help, but coffee at Bold Street just felt special and set the bar so high that nowhere else got near (except their sister espresso bar – about which, more later…).
Something about the rich, creamy texture of the cappuccino made me long for a second cup, but I had to hold back in the interests of professionalism and the need to try various places on my way.
I timed it right also to meet Jo, their cake baker, who just happened to be making her twice-weekly delivery as I sipped my coffee.
So Bold Street Coffee goes straight into the book, though it kind of ruined my taste buds for the rest of my time in Liverpool, and other places that normally might have found a slot in my reviews just didn’t compare…
It’s a short walk from Bold Street up to Liverpool’s two cathedrals. The massive Anglican Cathedral has a memorial to former bishop David Sheppard, and makes great play of his work to reconcile the Anglican and Catholic churches in Liverpool.
Strangely, though, there is no mention of his other great playing role: as the former captain of the England cricket team. It’s fine to ‘brand’ him as a reconciler, but don’t you think the Cathedral might draw in a new audience if it played him up as an early Ian Botham or Andrew Strauss?
I liked the ‘Case Study’ installation of suitcases and other travel bags that Liverpool celebrities might have owned. You can’t help stopping on the way up from the Anglican to the Catholic cathedral to spot your fave celeb among the cases, and Liverpool has had its fair share over the years.
The Catholic (or Metropolitan) Cathedral is probably my favourite modern church. Apparently its 2,300 seater capacity was filled for the visit of that celebrity Pope John Paul II in 1982, but it was a quieter affair yesterday with just a hundred or so school girls practising for some sort of song and dance routine to be performed on Friday. The X-Factor comes to Church?
And so to tea. And this was easy to find, too. Back at Bold Street, of course.
A few doors down from the coffee shop is Leaf Tea, one of the places we featured in our first book, but it has moved premises in the last two years and now fills this magnificent 1920s building that was originally… a tea room!
Leaf Tea is great. It takes the lavender and lace out of tea drinking and gives it a funky, modern feel. But you don’t have to be into retro chic to come here, and this 50 (something) year-old felt quite at ease sipping a pot of Darjeeling and tucking into the home-baked apple crumble cake.
And so for that second coffee shop. I did try several others round town, but they just didn’t cut it compared to Bold Street: some lacked atmosphere; some had average coffee; some verged on the corporate feel.
But I did enjoy coffee at Duke Street Espresso Bar, which is Bold Street’s ‘sister coffee shop’. Same quality as Bold Street (though their new Marzocco machine was still to be unveiled, so it may get even better…), but different feel.
They’ve only been open a few months, so weren’t as busy as Bold Street, but I somehow think they will be. They’re a bit of a ‘secret destination’ at the moment for coffee lovers, but I’m going to out them, and I reckon they might be a lot busier in a year or so’s time.
Ah, a review of Liverpool, and I haven’t even mentioned The Beatles or the Titanic. But, hey, if you want them, you can certainly find them popping up all over town (inc;uding in the Anglican Cathedral). But maybe not on Bold Street…