Well, well well: Best coffee in the South West is in Wells? Maybe…

In Wells I just got lucky, spotting a blackboard advertising a coffee shop as I walked into town from the car park.

Strangers with Coffee didn’t appear in any Google search or on Twitter (though hopefully, it will now!). But wow, thanks to Ivan and Susan who run the place for having the nous to place that blackboard in precisely the spot where folk like me are walking on our way into town…

Strangers with Coffee - coffee shop in Wells

Ivan reckons the coffee he serves up is the best in the south west. He brings the wonderful Allpress coffee in from London, and it certainly hit the spot. It slips down so smoothly that before you know it, you’re demanding a second cup.

Cappuccino at Strangers with Coffee in Wells

I was there a bit too early on a Monday morning to have my cake and eat it, though. They’d sold out of cakes during Saturday’s rush and Susan was still out in the kitchen baking a fresh batch.

The first load of brownies appeared as I sipped my 2nd coffee, and very nice they were too. I just couldn’t hang around for the hummingbird cake or the gluten-free chocolate, though by the end of the day, I kind of wished I had…

What an inspiring pair Ivan and Susan are. Their passion and love for what they’re doing comes across in every gesture. Even the little touches like the handy map of Wells on the back of the menu, so you know where you’re going next.

Strangers with Coffee - promise on the wall in Wells

And I loved the idea of coffee shop twinning. They have hooked up with a place in Nepal, which is kind of groovy; but I’d have so many ideas of coffee shops (and tea rooms) I’ve visited that might enjoy a link-up with somewhere similar in another part of the country…or the world.

Something to ponder over the next few weeks…

I’d often wondered why there was a Bishop of Bath AND Wells, especially as there is no Cathedral in Bath (contrary to what many people have tried to tell me since I began this tour…). It’s all to do with some bishop in the past who preferred to base himself in Bath, though quite why he did since he had the most sumptuous Bishop’s Palace we’ve seen in Wells, with a moat around it for goodness sake; and the chance to keep an eye on the riff-raff in Wells itself from his Bishop’s Eye tower at the top of the High Street.

Yes, you certainly get a sense of bishops’ status and power in mediaeval days when you visit Wells. And the Cathedral is magnificent; some just go to look at the jousting knights on the astronomical clock, but there’s much much more to see.

Wells Cathedral at Christmas

Vicars Close in Wells

Tea did become a bit of an issue in Wells, though. There were a couple of places for tea and I almost stopped in one because the cakes looked rather good. But I just can’t recommend places that only do a bog standard tea you can buy at the supermarket for a couple of quid for a pack of 80 bags.

I don’t know. It just felt like there was no pride in the tea being served, no love for their product. What a complete contrast to the attitudes of Ivan and Susan at Strangers with Coffee. And what a sad statement on our ‘national drink’ in the UK…

It’s only when I’m this unmoved by the tea or coffee in a place that I start to look at nearby towns or villages for a potential cuppa. My luck was out though, this week: The Fenny Castle tea room, three miles from Wells up a narrow puddly road was closed for the winter.

And when I decided to drop by Derrick’s Tea Room in Cheddar (9 miles from Wells) on the way back north on Thursday, I discovered, bizarrely, that this Tea Guild Member is closed for the next 3 months on…Thursdays (and Wednesdays). Oh well, hard cheese, as they say. I’ll have to drop by another time.

So, there’s no recommendation for tea in or near Wells.

We’ll just have to go back for another coffee with Ivan and Susan…

Video: Best coffee in the South West?

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