The best way to tell if a coffee shop takes their coffee seriously


Doesn’t Newcastle look cool…

I was recently taken on a tour of some Newcastle coffee shops and it was eye-opening – I never realised how little I knew about coffee.

The first cafe we entered was called Flat Caps Coffee. Its name evokes a traditional, hearty and down-to-earth place, where you’ll get a no-nonsense mug of joe. How wrong I was.

As you come in to Flat Caps, you’re struck by the number of awards they have won and the competitions they have entered. It’s relatively intimidating and a world away from the farmer-esque assumptions I had made about the place prior to entering.


This is someone from Flat Caps making coffee in a way akin to a more sinister type of chemistry

Granted, I am no connoisseur of coffee (in fact, I deliberately avoided it until I discovered a love for Turkish coffee with sugar) but this coffee shop was largely confusing. There were three different beans, hot or cold, siphon or filter and plenty of other choices aside, which meant I struggled to order the simplest of things.

Despite my confusion, I settled with a macchiato and I was ready to enjoy my coffee. It was served to me after a 10 or so minute wait (you can’t rush these things…) but it was devoid of sugar. Now, still being infantile in my coffee loving, I require sugar to make it taste a bit better so I looked around. Not a sugar to be seen. I asked for sugar and it was duly brought to me from a hiding place under the counter.

Who hides the sugar?! It’s normally out for the world to see.



I felt sad because I couldn’t drink my coffee sans-sweetener and that I had let Mr. Flat Cap down, however he was civil about it and didn’t make a fuss.

Which leads me onto coffee shop number two.

This was near the train station and is called Pink Lane Coffee. It’s a nice place with a shabby-ish chic-ish look to it. Tables here and there. Nooks and crannies to fall into and only come out once you’ve completed all the ‘work’ you have to do on your Mac. It even comes complete with its own selection of classic novels which have definitely not been read.

Pink lane

Once again I was faced with a wide selection of beans which I didn’t know much what to do with. I stared blankly at the menu board and eventually chose one from some far off land because it sounded nice.

The espresso took 10 or so minutes to arrive and it was also noticeably devoid of sugar. Why won’t they just give me some sugar?!

So I returned to the counter and proceeded to ask for the sugar. This was countered by the statement: “we recommend that you try our coffees without sugar beforehand as we believe they are sweet enough already.” She then reached for the ‘hidden’ (and probably contraband) sugar which was tucked away in the depths of their shelves.

Now I felt terrible. I had let down another barista and their look of derision hurt. I tried the espresso without the granulated joy and promptly decided I had known best in the first place – in the sugar went.

And so this is how you know when you’re at a cafe which takes their coffee seriously: they’ll hide the sugar from you because, in actuality, sugar is for wimps…