[UK] St Martins Tea & Coffee Merchants - Leicester

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

St. Martin's Tea & Coffee Merchants on Urbanspoon

Upon our return to Leicester this January, we noticed a new cafe that had opened up in the midst of a dwindling and lacklustre St Martins Square. Despite being located in the heart of the city center, it was evident that shop-owners are consistently being driven out of business with the high shop turnover rate. The locals attributed this to the opening of the Highcross Shopping Center located just adjacent to this cluster of boutique stores. Nonetheless, if you were to walk across St Martins Square these days, it would be close to impossible to avoid the strong aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans!

Rows of neatly arranged tins containing different types of coffee beans and tea leaves.

With traditional English teapots on windows display, it would be worth noting too in the picture below the moving metallic teapot attached to a pulley system to the entrance. Patrons entering or exiting the cafe would see the novelty exhibition of the teapot ascending and descending by the side door ledge.

As you could probably see with this attempted aerial shot, there was limited seating space available in the cafe with the rear half of the shop dedicated to retailing coffee and tea wares, such as distillers, filters, pots and such. 

Yes! This was what was giving off the aroma of the coffee beans! The selected coffee beans are gently being roasted in the machine, where the metallic tub-like container vibrated in a circular motion, presumably to give it an even roast.

Standing in front of the counter, I was indeed spoilt for choice when it came to selecting my brew. After deliberating for a few moments, I decided to go for the house brew of my black Americano since 'Blue Mountain' was not in stock. They offered a range of premium brew too including the famous Kopi Luwak! 

We waited patiently as the lady placed our coffee beans to the machine..

Black Americano and Classic Latte

Black Americano (No sugar added)
(+) Good amount of acidity in the coffee, leaving a slight dryness sensation in the back of mouth.
(+) Nutty aroma in addition to the bitterness.
(+) Overall perception of the flavour = balanced.

(-) Preferred a stronger full-bodied roast. (though it has to be noted that I did not particularly choose a kind of coffee beans, just the house brew)

Verdict: 7.5/10

Personally I am only an Espresso or Black Americano coffee drinker, so I reserve my comments on the latte. However, my lady who had the drink thought that it was an 'okay' hot beverage. I was hugely disappointed when there was no latte art being depicted at all. Frankly speaking, we were looking forward to that when we ordered the latte, so the lack of it was a complete letdown.

Verdict: 6.0/10

The plus point to the beverages was perhaps the gimmick of being a part of the coffee-making experience whereby you see the coffee beans being roasted, then it being pressurized and served. We thought that the wrapped caramel biscuit treat was a good gesture and certainly a well suited accompaniment to the drinks. 

Rug sacks as such which were used to contain the coffee beans were being pinned up as decorations and formed an important part of the interior design layout.

With some research, we realized that this cafe is a sister company to the kitchenware store located directly opposite.

Patrons could also buy back the various types of coffee beans and tea leaves available at the cafe. According to their website, it seemed like they even offered to sell their products to wholesalers. More interestingly, they conduct tasting sessions for various types of coffee and tea and we had signed up for their 'Complete Coffee Experience' too! Albeit slightly expensive at £49/person, the experience entails coffee farming and processing, roasting and blending, grinding, brewing and most importantly tasting. We would do a write-up again after we had attended the session!

For more information about the cafe, please visit them here!

Until then, its time to head home..

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