This week’s #FoodFriday comes from Marianna Hunt. Marianna set herself a challenge to discover Bristol’s best independents – by chatting to local baristas. Here she tells us more about her coffee adventure…

Marianna Hunt - Coffee Trails

As a travel writer, coffee lover and craft beer fanatic, Bristol is my dream city. So when I started my new travel writing project, I couldn't think of any better place to begin then right here, on the banks of the River Avon.

Bristol’s indie coffee shops are some of the best in the UK - they stock local suppliers, display local artists, support local plant shops and florists and pioneer sustainability. So I decided to see what I could discover (or rediscover) in the city, starting out at one of its fantastic coffee shops.  Whether a talented local supplier, a Bristol craftsman who designed their interiors, or just their favourite hidden sandwich spot, the famous friendliness of the Bristol baristas lived up to its hype. They sent me on a wild trail of the city, visiting bakeries, brunch spots and brewers, where I got another local recommendation in each place, uncovering talented Bristolians and incredible local stories along the way.

Here are Marianna’s top food and drink picks of the places she discovered:

Strawberry Thief

After living for a while in Brussels, I'm always looking for a friendly bar to get a great Belgian beer. Thanks to the amazing recommendation of the baristas at Full Court Press (neighbours and friends of Little Vics' sister coffee shop and one of the stops on the Coffee Trail), I struck gold with The Strawberry Thief. Funky wallpaper, great tunes and homemade chips that (controversial statement, I know) MIGHT just be better than Belgian frites. Be warned: check the ABV of what you're drinking. Two pints of their 9% Belgian brews and you might just be stumbling home.

Little Vics

The first port of call on the Bristol Coffee Trail, Little Vics is every millennial's dream.  Huge glass windows, green plants, stylish Scandi design, and speciality coffee. But it's also a fantastic community hub. You're just as likely to find mums with puppies and prams sipping cappuccinos as you are 20-somethings with their flat whites. What's more, Little Vics do regular collabs with the other indies around them including cheese and wine events with The Bristol Cheesemonger and cocktails with Psychopomp distillery. They also had some fantastic recommendations for the best hidden secrets of Bristol.

Harts Bakery

It's hard to find any of Little Vics' suppliers that aren't within walking distance of their cargo container down by the Harbourside. But one of my all-times favourites that I discovered was the brilliant, Harts Bakery - the masterminds/hands behind Little Vics' almond croissants. Tucked in their own strange, ex-industrial container below Temple Meads, the smell of freshly baked bread makes you forget the footfall of commuters above you and transports you to a cosy, country kitchen.

The Crafty Egg

One of the other leads on the Coffee Trail of Bristol took me from quirky independent art shop, Neon Tiger, in Stokes Croft to their neighbours and top Bristol brunch spot: The Crafty Egg. Apart from their addictive smoked salmon and poached egg stacks, I also fell in love with the community vibe of this café . The Crafty Egg is always full of fascinating Stokes Croft locals and its owners wander the surrounding streets, discovering the best Stokes Croft street artists who they then commission to transform the walls of the café into a living art gallery.

Bravas    

San Francisco brunches at Bakers, margaritas and Mexican tacos at Cantina...everything the guys from local hospitality group Season and Taste do is absolute perfection. So when local coffee shop, Playground, recommended I take a detour on the Coffee Trails up Cotham Hill to check out their tapas restaurant, Bravas, I didn't need to be told twice.

There's really not much more I can say, except GO. (And try the aubergine)

About the author:

Exploring Bristol through the stories and recommendations of the creative, independent people who call this place home showed Marianna a whole new side of the city. It worked so well as a way to travel, she decided to take The Coffee Trails international to see what she could discover in a different city. Next stop? Havana, Cuba.

Marianna is currently telling these stories and sharing her journey on Instagram at @thecoffeetrails_ and Twitter @mariannahunt5 and she is launching a Kickstarter campaign to turn The Coffee Trails into its own independent print magazine. If you'd like to get a copy or find out more, email thecoffeetrails@gmail.com!

When she's not spending her time sipping flat whites or glugging Belgian blondes, you can find Marianna creating a more local world in Bristol with Pixie app.

Related

The Strawberry Thief
Bar
The Strawberry Thief

Elegant and inclusive continental style bar in the creative heart of Bristol. Proudly independent, specialising in Belgian & local beers.