Maybe I’m getting too picky, but it took me a while to find coffee shops and tea rooms in Pickering that appealed.
Part of my problem is that I’m an early bird and I like my first coffee not long after 9am if I can. This suits the coffee shop in large urban areas or on a commuter route because they tend to open their doors at the crack of dawn.
But nothing much is happening at that time of the day in Pickering. So it gives someone like me a dilemma. Do I just get my caffeine fix early wherever I can and move on? Or wait till a better opportunity pops up?
I spotted a sign in one café window which made me wait…
Now, I’m not actually one of those who likes their coffee at 60 degrees, but the very fact that they bother to think about it suggested to me that this could be the place for coffee in Pickering…Trouble was, there was no indication of when they might open (note to all coffee shops and tea rooms: please put your opening hours in the window…).
A quick bit of detective work, and I discovered that Cafe Cocoa in Smiddy Hill opens at 10am (9.30 in summer), so I put away those caffeine cravings and waited.
And yes, it was well worth it. Surely the best coffee in Pickering (just a tad warmer than 60 degrees, so just as I asked). Fantastic patisseries, and actually, if you’re a tea lover, you can do a lot worse than loose-leaf Taylors of Harrogate.
So this is my top pick for a cuppa in Pickering. And a very friendly bunch in there, too.
Now, most people seem to go to Pickering for the steam trains. And they are great to watch.
You can see how successful their vintage weekends are – hey, they even have old tea ads on the station fences. Shame I never did know what ‘Dividend Tea’ was? Can anyone help on this?
Talking of tea, there are lots of tea rooms in Pickering, but nearly all of them just do tea bags. If you prefer loose-leaf and you absolutely have to stay in town, I could only find two options: there’s a branch of the lovely Bothams of Whitby just across the road from the station or you go back to the other end of town to Cafe Cocoa again.
But our top tip for tea if you’re in Pickering is actually to head just a mile out of town to the next village – called Middleton – where you’ll find not only lovely loose-leaf tea, but also a fantastic vintage feel.
The Tea Parlour is part of the village Post Office, right on the main road, heading west from Pickering.
It’s a lovely stone cottage, with a few seats on the outside if you’re there in summer. But inside, everything is vintage: from the tea pots and bone china service to the décor and the music playing on the gramophone (well, actually it probably wasn’t a gramophone, but it was definitely 1940s crooners on the CD player).
Beware, it’s closed Tuesdays (and Mondays in winter), but this is a great place for afternoon tea near Pickering. Owner Dini does everything she can to make everyone feel welcome – this really feels like tea in someone’s parlour. It’s a great find, and we’ll certainly be back.
And if you’re really into your teas and get Dini talking, she might even persuade you to go for the flowering tea, which blossoms right in front of your eyes.
We were so glad somebody in Pickering told us about this place after we’d poked our heads round so many doors, only to discover that tea bags were the general rule. Well, there’s no tea bags at The Tea Parlour and Dini doesn’t seem to mind the mess the leaves make at the end of the day, and I can’t help wondering why more tea rooms don’t offer tea like this!
So, Pickering was a bit peculiar for this Fancy a Cuppa tour of North Yorkshire. It was the first time we’d had to wait till 10 for a coffee and the first time we’d gone outside town for a good afternoon tea.
But at the end of the day, two more quality venues showing that with a bit of persistence you CAN get a decent coffee and tea in most North Yorkshire towns.
So there’s more to Pickering than steam trains and the castle. But I’ve managed to run through this entry without even referring to Pickering’s castle. So let’s finish with a pic of Pickering’s castle walls: they survived Scottish and Danish incursions and the battles of the Civil War and War of the Roses. Not a soul about as we passed by, though – bit of a shame, really…