The customer is not always right at Colonna and Smalls, off Queen Square in Bath. Especially if the customer wants a skinny double decaff latte with soy, or even if they dare express a penchant for milk or sugar.
The interior is pleasingly minimal, wooden benches and white walls which enlarges the long, narrow cafe. Set back in the cafe the menu proudly announces the origin of coffee they have on at the moment, and the tasting notes. It almost goes without saying that Colonna and Smalls take their coffee seriously, so seriously that their knowledgeable staff will explain and recommend the different roasts.
I don’t do double moccachinos or anything fluffy. For me, coffee has to be good and strong. I have americano, and if it’s good I drink it black. If it’s indifferent I add milk. At Colonna and Smalls americanos are anathema and milk is beyond the pale.
The menu, like the decor is pared back to the minimum. There are four options. I went for the Lungo, which was half filter, half espresso and my companion chose espresso.
It took a little while to arrive and when it did both coffees had great crema. We tried without both without sugar first – the espresso tasted intense and amazingly strong. The menu advised against sugar but my husband asked for it anyway and was admonished – it makes the coffee astringent. He went ahead and added it anyway and had to admit the waiter was correct.
My lungo was incredibly strong, and I enjoyed tasting all the flavours without the milk. It was so intense and satisfying it almost felt like a meal – I certainly knew I had drunk it.
Apart from a minimal coffee menu Colonna and Smalls sell pastries. I enjoyed trying a new coffee, and trying to detect a hint of apricot in my cup. Next time I need a wake up call I would definitely return to try a new roast.
Emperors new clothes or amazing coffee experience? It’s a fine line but I decide on the latter. I admire the passion and dedication required to produce something really well, and these guys are good enough to get away with it.