When I went to Leeds last weekend to visit my family I managed to arrange to spend a little time with my sister in Headingley. Headingley is a suburb just North West of Leeds city centre and is traditionally a place where students and young people live, the result being that it’s quite cool and full of interesting bars, restaurants, cafes and shops. One of which is Bare Coffee.
Incidentally, “bare” is a piece of Yorkshire slang. It’s a little like Glaswegian “pure” in that it means something like “very” or “lots.” So, if I say something is going to take “bare time” I mean it’s going to take a lot of time, much like if a Glaswegian says something will “take pure ages.” Apparently, when the owner of this cafe said he was going to come to Headingley to open a coffee shop, someone told him “You’re going to sell bare coffee in Headingley, mate” and the name stuck.
So, on the Saturday morning, we took a leisurely stroll through Headingley and made our way there. Bare Coffee is chaotic. It’s tiny. There are a couple of tables outside the front of the cafe, maybe two or three more inside, and another two or three in the back garden. Inside the staff work together behind a small counter, shouting instructions and jokes and no one seems to know entirely what’s going on all of the time but somehow it all works. The laughter and energy are infections. While I wouldn’t return for a coffee to go if I were in a hurry I do feel like if I have time to wait then it will always be worth it.
My sister and I took the last available table outside in the back garden where, as well as serving food and drinks, they grow strawberries. These were just ripening when I visited and I can’t help wondering if they use them in the food at all. I hope they do, but perhaps they don’t grow quite enough of them.
We both ordered a soy latte (the coffee here is North Star, a favourite in Leeds and popular in Glasgow too) and poured over the brunch menu. I chose Spanish Picadillo hash, which contained fried potatoes, chorizo, black pudding, cherry tomatoes and a fried egg. My sister went for the full veggie breakfast which was huge and came with a doorstep slice of sourdough (the bread is from the Leeds Bread Coop and is available to buy in loafs inside the cafe). She especially praised the veggie sausages which seemed to be about 50/50 leak and Gruyere. What’s not to love?
Naturally, everything was delicious. I could have happily stayed in that garden all day, nibbling at delicious food and enjoying the coffee and the atmosphere. While chaos may reign indoors, outdoors is much more relaxed and quiet. I suppose we were lucky to visit on a sunny morning.
I don’t spend enough time in Headingley, and there are many more places there that I’d like to visit, but it will be hard to not just keep going back to Bare Coffee.