Anyone who reads this blog will have realized by now that I am a coffee geek. I am rather particular about my coffee. I like it strong, but with some milk in the morning. Just so my stomach does not burn entirely. I also like my coffee to be fun. Or challenging. I want to learn and explore new tastes. To me coffee is very similar to wine. I find both absolutely exhilarating.
So far, I have written a few rather nice blog posts about coffee. I shall write some (or at least one) not so nice ones too. This is not one of those, because the Exploding Bakery is my absolute favourite coffee place in the UK. Their coffee is the best, the morning banter is how it should be, the guys are lovely as well as knowledgable and passionate about what they do, and their cakes are excellent too. And that is coming from someone who does not actually care very much for cake.
Let’s begin with the coffee. Because, to me, this is really what the Exploding Bakery is all about, even if it is technically a bakery. While there are a number of guest beans appearing on a regular basis, such as e.g. a rather fantastic Roundhill take on the Ethiopian Hunda Oli Co-op, the standard coffee at the Exploding Bakery is my all-time favourite Monmouth. Monmouth is virtually impossible to get in the Southwest – I am yet to come across it in Bristol on more than a fleeting basis – so the Exploding Bakery is like a small piece of heaven to me. Due to space restrictions (connected to the fact that it is a bakery rather than a cafe), the coffees at the Exploding Bakery are all espresso based, that is, save for the rare event when the machine breaks down.
The espresso based way suits me just fine. Either I am not hipster or grown up enough to appreciate filter/aeropress/cold extractions/etc. And the espresso base suits Monmouth. Monmouth is quite dark, but it is awesomely nutty, chocolatey and spicy. Nice and warm and rounded – perfect with a little milk to add a hint of sweetness. The milk is full-fat, by the way, as the Exploding boys do no frills coffee: one base, one kind of milk, one price. £2 for any coffee, whether an espresso or the milky latte, which so many people seem to like (but, why?!). I shall admit that I have never tried Monmouth or an Exploding Bakery coffee as anything else than a macchiato or a flat white. I like my coffee strong. Hence, whereas I cannot vouch for how the others taste, I can tell you that the boys make the best macchiatos and flat whites. Not only in town, but in the Southwest.
In addition to the great coffee, the Exploding Bakery supplies great morning banter. There is always a great atmosphere in the bakery – laughs, jokes and high-brow political discussions on food and World affairs. Just what you want on the way to work! Something to get you kick-started and put a smile on your face. Should that not be enough, there are also a vast assortment of cakes, some croissants (filled at lunch-time), Spanish tortilla (lunch-time), soup, and soda bread. I am not really much of a cake person, but if I had to buy a piece of cake anywhere, it would be either a slice of their lemon polenta cake or banana bread. The kid and boyfriend both agree, and they are both massive cake lovers.
The Exploding Bakery, Queen Street, Exeter (next to the Central Station)
Open Mon-Fri 8-4, Sat 9-4.
If you fancy a look at their cakes, which can also be bought to take home by the tray, do go to their website. Plenty of pics.
And before you shoot me, I know Exeter is not in Bristol. In fact, it is an hour away. But there is no point in having an Exeter tab, because there is only one place to go for good coffee in Exeter (and outskirts). That place has now been covered.