Pale grey walls, bare floorboards, differing table heights, sultry jazzy music: it all points to a laid-back, smart business that wouldn’t look or feel out of place in Seattle or San Francisco. But the Southsea Coffee Co is right here in, unsurprisingly, Southsea.
Opened last May, it has chosen to do modern over retro, last year’s craze. They believe in salvage, hence the interesting tables, some with warped, bowed middles with added splayed white-painted kitchen table legs, back-to-front chair slats and industrial-type black metal and wood stools in the long café with snug.
Now, that snug. There’s nowhere like it in Southsea. A snug with lounging sofas and table hides a further snug as well as a wall with hand-painted characters for children to colour in. Plants and flowers add to the feel.
A busy counter sports a major coffee machine, electric grinders, three of them for differing coffee beans. Cakes and cupcakes, lemon drizzle, brownies made with beetroot and flapjacks, all locally-made, are found here.
A large grey blackboard – two-man height – declares the cafe’s diverse wares including types of coffee and beans to take away, a home-brewing kit, wi-fi (code: flatwhite), all done with humour here and on other boards.
An espresso blend of Jailbird, a mix of beans from El Salvador and Bolivia, has a sweet acidity with body and may be used as a double shot for those coffees we all know and come to expect; flat white, cappuccino, espresso, latte and mocha as well as Americano.
But it’s not wall-to-wall coffee. There’s loose-leaf tea from All About Tea, the rising star of tea in Southsea which includes English breakfast, Southsea green tea and others.
There is also home-made peach iced tea, plus milkshakes, squeezed orange juice and pink lemonade.
The menu sources locally for the sandwiches, soups and cakes. Choose from, maybe, a carrot and coriander or tomato soup with pesto, everything home-made.
Move on to a topped sourdough toast with maybe brie, tomato chutney and rocket, Buckwells’ ham with mature cheddar, ale pickle or a smashed chickpea, roast pepper, sun-blushed tomatoes and chilli dressing.
There could be salami or avocado involved, or mozzarella with green pesto or tostada con tomates or creamed stilton with pear and walnut.
Granary sandwich bread is also sourced from the excellent Happy Toast of Hedge End. Come for breakfast of porridge with jam or Nutella with hazelnuts, toasted banana bread with mascarpone, figs, bananas and honey or fruit loaf toast. Prices? From £1.60 to £5 for food, £2–£2.80 for those coffees.
The spicy tomato soup with fabulous granary was terrific, as were smashed cannellini beans with winter slaw, rocket, cumin yoghurt and quality olive oil on that Hedge End thick sourdough toast - the best I’ve ever come across in the UK.
All ingredients beautifully complement one another and that chewy, perfectly- baked bread is a real find.
A flat white with a smart design on the milk was equally impressive, the 100 per cent independent coffee shop putting the multiples to shame.
Couldn’t-be-bettered service is by friendly owners and others including a delightful Estonian student, all well versed in types of coffee and food.
This is not a shrug-of-the-shoulders place. Quality is at the forefront and they care. And I care that they succeed,
Southsea Coffee Co, 63 Osborne Road, Southsea. Open 7.30am–6pm weekdays, 9am–6pm Saturday, 10am–4pm Sunday.
How to get there: Osborne Road is off Clarence Parade, the café on the left before Palmerston Road.
Ratings (maximum *****)