Thursday, October 20, 2011

Going Back To My Coffee Roots: St. Martin's Coffee & Tea Merchants, Leicester

Lately, I've been refraining from my "You know what? I DESERVE IT!!!" purchases of soya vanilla lattes in the morning.  I actually don't deserve it if my bank balance is nearing zero.

I've never been a serious coffee drinker, which sends many into an incredulous state when I tell them that I hail from Seattle (or at least, a suburb south of Seattle).  "Isn't that like ... the BIRTHPLACE of STARBUCKS????" Brits ask in their distinctive intonation.  Sure, I visited the Starbucks drive-thrus in high school - but not because I particularly liked the stuff, more so because it was cool.  Cool to show up to first period AP American Government with a venti skinny double-shot caramel mocha in hand.

Now that I'm an A-D-U-L-T, I find that I increasingly require coffee to get me going and wine to help me unwind.  I call this: G-R-O-W-I-N-G U-P.  My mom likens it to dependency and is probably counting down the days I'm going to end up in rehab, either catatonic from caffeine overdose or in a permanently drunken state.

None of that's going to happen, of course.  But in order to tighten the purse strings, I've taken to making my own delicious coffee at work every morning in my shiny new, red Bodum cafetiere with coffee from St Martin's Tea & Coffee Merchants in Leicester - all courtesy of John's lovely mom, Alison, who bought me these lovely gifts on a shopping excursion to Leicester's city centre.

Cheers me up just looking at it (even though I'm still in my robe as I write this and will very well be late to work).

Back to the coffee: St. Martin's is, well, it's great.  I don't know anything about coffee, but it's the type of laid back, non-pretentious environment that makes all coffee appreciators - experienced and non-experienced alike - comfortable.  They hold regular "coffee tastings" outside the shop and you're always welcome to try before you buy, which is always a plus (and a must, if you don't know exactly what you like).  The staff is friendly, helpful, and chilled out.  They stock a variety of loose leaf teas as well, so if coffee isn't your thing, you're certain to find something that will appeal.  Location is also helpful: tucked in St. Martin's Square, the shop and cafe is situated between several quirky and artful boutiques, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the high street.  It's feasible to drop by just for a coffee with a friend and browse the shops for the rest of the afternoon without having to step foot into the busy shopping center if you don't want to.  And that kind of sums up what I love about it.

Though there's an online ordering facility available on their website, I'm tempted to make repeat trips up to Leicester just so I can stop by - it's that good.  More importantly, I'd rather support an independent establishment like St. Martin's in a city like Leicester, where the baristas' passion for coffee is inclusive, rather than the blank stares I receive on the other end of the counter in London - indie or not.   


  1. I love me a post about coffee. How far is Leicester from London?

  2. About two hours away by train, but it's worth it! :)


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