Combining my love of coffee and cycling

I’ve always loved cycling and when I moved to Leeds I worried I wouldn’t be able to get out much. I’m not a super keen road cyclist that goes out for 100miles at a time, I just enjoy getting out and seeing new places while getting a few miles under my belt.

I bought my girlfriend a bike for Christmas last year, only for both bikes to be stolen from my flat car park just 2 months later (that’s another story). We did replace these however and planned a ride in early June, it just so happened that around this time the Commute Cycle Cafe in Ilkley was opening up.

We planned to visit the cafe on its opening weekend and so set off early one Saturday morning. My only guidance was the maps on my phone and a hastily cobbled together paper map. Despite having to navigate some pretty serious hills and losing the route a number of times we eventually made it to Ilkley and found the cafe.

It was really busy with a number of cycle groups already in. The owners were really helpful, moving chairs and ensuring that our bikes were safe and secure. The decor was really minimalist with bare walls and hanging lights, but it really worked and suited the laid back atmosphere.

We ordered a tea and coffee to begin with and sat and watched people come and go. It was incredibly busy but it was great to see the young owner taking time to speak to all the customers.

We sat for so long that I then got tempted by the food. I tried one of the pasties that they had on offer (I regret to say I’ve waited so long to write this blog that I’ve completely forgotten the flavour). I can assure you that I’ve not forgotten quite how tasty it was.

After travelling over a number of unexpected hills on the way there we were considering going back on the train. We spoke with the owners and a couple of the customers who were only too happy to advise on a easier route. My girlfriend was also in need of a new helmet at the time and the guys were only too happy to help as they also sell a variety of bikes and biking accessories.

Definitely worth a visit if you’re in Ilkley, cyclist or not! 

Any places within cycling distance of Leeds that anyone can recommend would be much appreciated!

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A Full Yorkshire Breakfast

One of the best things about living in the city centre is that you are never more than a 5minute walk from a good quality meal. There is no better time to take advantage of this than on a Saturday morning. You’ve made it to the weekend and what better way to kick it off than a proper breakfast?! 

One such Saturday morning and we went out in search of breakfast and happened to stumble across Wapentake. Without meaning to you could very easily walk past this cafe, come bakery, come bar as it is sandwiched between an indescript hairdressers on one side and a tattoo parlour on the other.

Once inside and you instantly fall in love with the place. The staff are always friendly and the mismatched furniture gives off a vintage and antiquey vibe (if such a vibe even exists).

‘A full Yorkshire breakfast’ immediately jumped off the menu at me, partly because I love a full English but mainly because I’m trying to blend in as a Northerner. They boast on their website that they wanted to create a little piece of Yorkshire by combining a bakery, cafe and bar and if the breakfast is anything to go by then they certainly succeeded. 

 

The presentation is top class and with chorizo sausages and poached eggs to die for the taste does not disappoint. I consider myself a big breakfast fan and so this next statement will probably shock you, as much as it did me.

The best bit about the breakfast was the bread.

Yes, you heard me, not the chorizo sausages, not the perfectly timed eggs but the bread. Freshly baked on site each day they obviously put a lot of effort in to to ensuring the bread fits in with their taste of Yorkshire breakfast. I’ve since found out they also sell the bread to takeaway, I’ll definitely be back to get a loaf or two! 

I know what your thinking, this can’t get any better can it? Well it can, because the coffee they serve is some of the best in Leeds. True to form it’s sourced in Yorkshire, from Coffeecare, a family run business based in Skipton.

If you haven’t been to Wapentake I would definitely recommend trying it out and I’ll hopefully have a review of their evening offering soon! 

My first visit to La Bottega Milanese

I visited La Bottega Milanese (the one in The Light) after hearing good things about the coffee and as part of a project with @DiscoverLeeds.
I was immediately greeted with a friendly smile and warm welcome from the woman behind the counter. I chose a flat white and my partner a hot chocolate. The attention to detail on both the coffee and hot chocolate was incredible, having watched the drinks being made I could tell that the staff were incredibly passionate about the coffee as a great deal of care was taken with each. There is a wooden bench that runs the length of the store, it was surprisingly comfy and we were happy to sit just over an hour. I sampled a second drink, this time opting for an Americano and was once again impressed with its presentation. It is a good test of the coffee to drink it black as I often find some are over powering and require sugar or milk. The coffee was obviously incredibly high quality with a delicate taste and La Bottega Milanese coffee definitely lives up to its reputation for the best coffee in Leeds.

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I spoke to the manager in between him serving other customers – always impressive to see a manager getting stuck in. He informed me that all coffee was roasted in Yorkshire and blended in house to retain the original flavours while adding their own Italian touch and they offer guest coffees from independent UK roasteries. The owner, Alex, opened the shop (originally on the Calls) after he noticed a gap in the market for good quality coffee in Leeds. His mantra is “if it’s not from Italy, it’s from Yorkshire” and this it not only represented in the coffee but also the fact that bread is from an independent baker and much of their produce is sourced from Leeds Markets.
Well worth a visit, I will be going back soon to try out one of their tasty looking sandwiches.

Where it all began

09/04/2016

I thought it was only fitting to write my first proper blog post in the first place I visited in Leeds.

It was back in November and I had just been for a job interview. My girlfriend was picking me up after work and so I had a whole day to kill.

I was walking up Albion Place and chose to ignore the more well known chains; Costa, Starbucks and Pret etc. My eyes fell upon Distinto, a small coffee shop with a friendly looking front.

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It was when I got to the door i knew I had made the right choice, the café was at number 23 (a superstition of mine).

Today I was obviously feeling philosophical as I ordered the exact same as on that day in November, a flat white and slice of carrot cake.

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After making it a personal crusade  to sample various carrot cakes across the city I must say this is one of my favourites. It comes with just the right amount of buttercream so that it doesn’t overpower the more gentle flavour of the moist cake!

The shop is family run and  this family feel shines through in the incredibly friendly service, they are always happy to offer advice on what to eat or drink.

I guess it holds special preference to me as I now work for the company I had interviewed for that morning. However biased I would undoubtedly recommened Distinto, a great place to escape the fast paced city centre.  Check them out on Facebook here – https://www.facebook.com/www.distinto.coffee.