I have so far only posted lovely reviews. That is because I tend to go by word of mouth, and the coffee community is generally pretty sharp at sniffing out the new good places – and even at recommending the competition.
I went to Spicer and Cole simply because I ran past it on my way to the Downs one day, and the sandwiches looked appealing. I could see that the coffee was from Extract, which is popular in Bristol at the moment, so I thought the place ought to be decent, although nobody had flagged it up. Oh, how wrong I was!
My boyfriend was gigging a Saturday morning, so I decided to pay a visit to Spicer and Cole. Have a coffee, sample a sandwich and do some writing. I arrive at about 11:30 and eye two sandwiches on the bar. I ask the girl at the till, whether I could perhaps have a sandwich made up as I do not care much for brie, which was the filling in the two on display. She tells me that more sandwiches are currently being made in the kitchen, but I will have to wait until noon before they are ready as they do everything from scratch. I like that, so I decide to order a flat white to have while I wait.
I pay for my flat white and sit down. The coffee does not arrive, but sandwiches do appear on the bar. Hence, I get up and ask if I could purchase one. The girl says that they are not for sale until noon, and I will have to wait. She then orders the two young kitchen staff to remove the sandwiches again, which they promptly do. I sit down and continue waiting for my coffee. It has now been 20 minutes.
My coffee finally arrives at noon. I wonder what took them so long, but I do not ask. It is perfectly nice, but not excellent, and by now I really need it. After finishing, I get up and make another attempt at purchasing one of the sandwiches, which have now reappeared and seem to be for sale. I choose a piece of foccacia filled with fresh mozzarella and grilled vegetables and rocket. I also order another flat white. So far, so good. While paying, I see the girl about to put my sandwich into the panini toaster. I tell her that I would like my sandwich un-toasted, to which she replies that it is not possible. I repeat that I would like my sandwich un-toasted, and she says that sandwiches must be toasted. Period. Then she turns around and ignores me, but puts the sandwich aside.
I wait. Another girl appears and asks me whether I am being served. I tell her that I am not entirely sure, but I do not think so. This prompts the first girl to turn around, hissing ‘she wants her sandwich un-toasted!’ They both turn to look at me, and the second girl explains that it would simply not be a good idea. You see, the sandwiches have been in the fridge for hours and are terribly cold, and the bread will be dry. I point out their conflicting stories, and reiterate that I just want the sandwich as it is. I am hungry. I do not want a toasted sandwich. It turns out that at Spicer and Cole, the customer is never right. I cannot buy a sandwich unless I have it toasted. End of story.
I pay for my second flat white, sit down and write a bad (but highly deserved) review, and do some reading. I also rather pettily occupy an entire table with my lone coffee for three hours on what is a busy Saturday. In all fairness, I did try to spend more money, I just was not allowed.
I can see from the decor that Spicer and Cole has spent quite a bit of money on their outfit in Clifton. Here is a suggestion for you (in addition to using the superb Hart’s Bakery, rather than Hobbs House): if you have not run out of cash, do invest in staff training. Your customer service is non-existent. I shall never return. Not in a million lightyears. Not even if you paid me. There are excellent places to have coffee in Bristol – most notably Full Court Press and Small Street Espresso (post to follow) – so why go to Spicer and Cole, unless you want to raise your blood pressure and cry with frustration.
Spicer and Cole, Princess Victoria Street, Bristol (Clifton)
Appears to always be open.
Before I leave, a sign appear next to the sandwiches, stipulating that these are only sold toasted…