Matthew Steele on that life-cum-essay saver: coffee.
Coffee lovers in St Andrews are spoilt for choices. We have Taste, Beanscene, Our Story, Starbucks, Costa, The Coffee House, Zest and the recent newcomer, The Cottage Kitchen—this list doesn’t even include the shops that sell coffee but aren’t fully dedicated to the coffee operation. Needless to say, St Andrews is buzzing from the caffeine jitters. But regardless of the stiff competition, the best place to grab a cup of coffee in the Bubble, by quite some distance, is Taste.
The competition Taste faces is fierce. The two that arguably provide the most competition to the small hole-in-the-wall on North St. are the behemoth chains–Starbucks and Costa. Some of their positives include large dedicated spaces with free wi-fi and generally convivial atmospheres. Everyone knows what they’re getting when they go to a chain coffee shop–industrial coffee on an industrial scale. For some, that’s just fine. But for coffee lovers, this writer included, Starbucks and Costa are painstakingly awful. The coffee tastes as though it was made during the Roman Occupation centuries ago and has just now been served for the public’s consumption. Not just that, the prices are extortionate; £4 is simply too much for a cup of coffee, no matter where it’s from. If that isn’t enough, then the massive queues in the morning to fetch that not-so-nice cup of coffee are sure to put you off venturing to the two superpowers.
On a smaller scale, Taste competes directly against the smaller coffee shops in town including The Coffee House, Beanscene and The Cottage Kitchen. The Coffee House on Greyfriars Gardens boasts a wide selection of coffees from Jamaican Blue Mountain to Hawaiian Kona Kai, which is quite impressive. And the list of accompaniments which are on offer are equally as varied and nice. But the most off-putting thing about The Coffee House is the venue itself. Though the quality of the product is good, the feel of the place is off. It is as though you’ve gone to your grandmum’s house for a cup of coffee without your grandmum actually being home to provide you that certain level of comfort. It just doesn’t work. Now, Beanscene, which has a very nice atmosphere, comfortable seats and lovely, soothing music. And the coffee at the place is pretty nice as well, with reasonable prices to boot. The only problem with Beanscene is that the coffee is simply alright. It’s not horrible, but not fantastic either. You can get some nice drinks there, this article shouldn’t deter you from going there, it’s simply to say that you could do better with Taste. A final small-scale competitor is a newcomer, The Cottage Kitchen on Logies Lane. Simply, the interior and exterior are fantastic. They have downstairs, upstairs and outdoor seating–yes for a coffee shop, unbelievable. The coffee is pretty good and fairly cheap. The food is delicious, muffins and scones galore. Not just that the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful, bringing the coffee to you after it is made. Again, the complaints are few. However, the service, though nice, can be a bit slow and if you’re in a rush The Cottage Kitchen may not be the place to go.
Now for Taste. It is the beautiful green beacon on the corner of Greyfriars Gardens and North St. It seems to have everything in its favour which affords it the ability to call itself the best place for coffee in St Andrews. First, the selection of coffee is fantastic. There are usually 5 or 6 different coffees to choose from on rotation. Ask for a different flavour every time, you will never be disappointed. Next, the food and other drinks. If you’re not up for a cup of coffee then Taste has a wide variety of teas and cold drinks which simply cannot be found elsewhere in town. The food is also fantastic, they offer a wide selection of paninis and baked goods. Not to mention their croissants, which are the best this side of Paris. The cost of both drinks and food is also pretty reasonable; it’s cheaper than the chains and on average with the smaller shops around town. And let’s not forget the atmosphere. Even though it can be a bit overcrowded, the seats are incredible. You’re either people watching on a stool or into revising on the sofa. Not just that, the hipster baristas provide tunes which are relaxing whilst cruising the internet provided by the free wifi. Put simply, there is nothing not to love about Taste.
Image Credit: Matthew Steele