Review: Coffee #1

Portswood’s latest opening is one of its best.


For those returning to Southampton, coming back from the summer revealed a new player in Portswood’s killer coffee line up, Coffee #1.

The latest arrival had plenty to live up to, rivalling traditional customer favorites like Costa. Based in Cardfiff and owned by S.A. Brains Brewery, Coffee #1 has 57 stores currently open, but the business is expanding rapidly across the South West of England. It has the makings of a high-street regular so with all this in mind, we headed down to see what all the fuss was about.

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What a swish set up

First impressions are great – the décor is pretty stylish, being open and modern. Front windows let in plenty of sunlight and looking out at the rain makes it super cosy on darker days. It’s much bigger than its main competitor Costa and, with plenty of space for laptops and coursework, makes an ideal revision space.

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If you can’t find something you like, you’re too fussy.

Their drinks menu is pretty extensive, from smoothies and iced coffee to flavoured teas. We opted for a taste of their seasonal blend of coffee, fresh from Columbia, more specifically Granja la Esperanza (literally translated as Farm of Hope). I drink a lot of coffee and it’s safe to say this is one of my new favorites – rich, earthy and a decent amount for the price.

The company seems to value sustainability with their farmers paid above Fair Trade wages. With organic hot chocolate, a massive amount of gluten free cakes and soya options as well as napkins that remind you to save trees you almost feel you’re doing good simply by being there.

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What more could you want?

Food wise, it’s a lunch and cake sort of joint. They do soup, paninis and the like but their forte is clearly the bakery section. From brownies, to croissants to some amazing cake concoctions it took a good ten minutes to make a decision. We sampled the triple chocolate brownie and a gluten-free option, the orange polenta cake. Portion sizes were about average for the price and taste wise, both were pretty fantastic. Chocolate and cake, can you go far wrong?

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Instagrammability? 100%

The manager, Katy O’Brien is a recent Southampton graduate and is keen to engage the student community in the business venture. As well as a 10% student discount across the store, she is already in touch with societies, organizing events such as live music and knit’n’natter groups. She is also happy for the venue for non-alcoholic socials and encourages anyone to contact her if they are keen to get involved or have any other suggestions.

Overall, Portswood’s bagged a winner here – its reasonably priced, has a great range of products to suit everyone as well as keeping its workers and sustainability high on its agenda. Looks like Costa may have to up its game.