The coffee is Really Rather Good in Bury St Edmunds & the tea is almost Edwardian

I’d been to Bury before briefly, but don’t remember having such good coffee and tea. I’m also amazed that we managed to visit the town, even for a few hours only, and not discovered the enormous grounds of the old Abbey. What did we DO last time we were here??

By 9.15am I knew I’d found the place for coffee in town. Really Rather Good is exactly that. It’s perfectly-placed, right opposite the abbey grounds, it’s got a fresh, modern feel and of course serves up an excellent cup of coffee.

Outside Really Rather Good coffee shop in Bury St Edmunds

They do pretty good teas as well, and even have a sniff box for you to test your favourites, but this was coffee time, so I stuck to the cappuccino…

Coffee at Really Rather Good coffee shop in Bury St Edmunds

Well, I say that, but by the time owners Andreas and Ali had finished with me, I’d gone on to try their decaf espresso as well, not because I needed to limit my caffeine intake, but because they think it’s the best decaf you’ll get for a long way around here, and wanted to prove it to me.

What a great couple! Not all owners make the time to sit and discuss their passion for tea and coffee in the way these two did. But with friendly, competent staff also around, it means they can keep a guiding hand on the tiller and MAKE time when someone like FancyaCuppa? pitches up.

A great start to the day in Bury St Edmunds.

The Cathedral was equally welcoming, and there were so few takers for the organised tour that I had Don Hill all to myself for an hour. Now, the Cathedral of St Edmundsbury is the kind of place Prince Charles likes; when they built the new tower in 2000, they made sure it was in keeping with the rest of the church, and you can barely see the join…

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral

Best story of all in this place is the sad tale of young Martha. The daughter of one of the early settlers in America was baptised here, but she died aged two, and so Dad named Martha’s Vineyard after her during those days when the English got to name things over there.

The current cathedral was once just a small parish church on one corner of the enormous abbey grounds. But, this abbey fared no better than any others under Henry VIII, leaving awkwardly shaped bits of wall and foundations left today for kids to roam around. In its day, it must have been an extraordinary place. Well, actually, it still is now.

Tea time in Bury St Edmunds had to be at Harriet’s.

Outside Harriet's Tea Room in Bury St Edmunds

They’ve really gone for the Edwardian period feel here – inside anyway – and it works. The décor, the staff, the menus all hark back to that heyday of afternoon tea drinking.

However much walking we do on these FancyaCuppa? outings, it is getting harder to manage a full Afternoon Tea these days, and the pieces of cake were probably not the best part of the tea at Harriet’s, but the scones were top class and I’d definitely recommend the cream tea for future.

Afternoon tea at Harriet's tea rooms in Bury St Edmunds

The tea itself was fantastic. I’ve come a long way since those teenage years when I’d pour my great aunt’s tea into the flower pots because it was too strong. I LOVE a good brick-red and very strong tea nowadays. And that’s exactly what I got at Harriet’s.

A good strong cuppa at Harriet's in Bury St Edmunds

A great experience. Just a shame I missed the live pianist (who plays between 12 and 2 every day…). But for overall service, quality of tea and those scones, I’d give this top rating among tea rooms.

And I hear they’ve opened up a new place in Cambridge recently. Hmmm. Shame there’s no cathedral in Cambridge. That was one of places we tried for our first Fancy a Cuppa? book – of tea with stories to tell –  but three years ago we found nowhere that fit the bill.

So, time for a trip to Cambridge soon? But, actually, I liked Bury St Edmunds enough to want to come back here too, so that the other half of the FancyaCuppa? team can have an equally Really Rather Good experience…

Video: Coffee and tea in Bury St Edmunds

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