An unassuming little cafe in Bath serves what might be the greatest coffees in town. We came across The Western Bistro last week and were bowled over by the size of their cappuccinos.
For just £2.80 you can get a mug as big as your hand – an absolute steal for Bath – and it’s not two scoops of jobby Kenco either. Justin Wolfe-Dean learned his trade from the very first barista at the Glastonbury Festival and has a passion for excellence.
He spent eight years helping his friend Callum brew delicious beers for weary festival-goers, before opening his own coffee shack. In conversation with Live Bath, he remembered how it all started.
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The 50-year-old said: “I was trained by the first cafe barista to have a pitch at Glastonbury. His name is Callum and he’s from New Zealand. He had to work really hard to convince Michael Eavis that a cafe would work at Glasto, but he did.
“It was called Callum’s Coffee and I also worked with an Australian girl called Shannon. I did eight seasons with them and their main focus was always good quality coffee.
“Today at The Western is about bringing people the good coffee that New Zealanders and Aussies have shown me. We put two standard shots in our coffees, not just one, for him impart a richer flavor.”
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In 2018, Justin was ready for his own pitch and Callum was happy to help. Luckily, he had exactly what his buddy was looking for.
“I used the original unit he had for his very first pitch at Glastonbury. They were overwhelmed the first time they pitched there, so the following year they went out and bought a larger unit.
“That means I took the smaller one and turned it into the Steampunk Coffee Company. I renovated the whole thing myself. The picture on the back is of a Victorian mining tunnel, which fits the steampunk theme.”
Along with his merry band of helpers, Justin roams Southwest festivals with his handy coffee shack. He’s been to WOMAD, Boomtown, and got land at Glastonbury again this year.
However, while we all love dancing in the mud with a cappuccino in hand, you can’t beat the humble British cafe. Fortunately, Justin has covered all his bases.
“My brother’s company owns the building that houses The Western and I helped renovate it before the cafe opened in 2018. A year later I was lucky enough to take it over and become part of it. at the Steampunk Coffee Company.
“We looked at what locals wanted rather than telling them what we think they should have, and I think that’s why it works,” Justin explained.
If you’re feeling peckish, we might interest you in its no-frills homemade paninis and soups. He uses a slow cooker to simmer his broths and says they are “just like your grandma would have made.”
“I’m always on the lookout for new recipes. We’re making a homemade pea, ham, and pesto recipe, and one with sweet potato, carrot, pear, and chili. Sometimes I’ll make a classic vegan French Onion.
“I have a client who comes twice a week, just for the soup. We actually have a lot of regulars, aged between 20 and 90.
“A guy used to work on the Waverley paddle steamer and he remembers when it went from steam to diesel. He gave us a picture of it for our wall because it fits our steampunk theme,” Justin laughed.
He explained that while prices may need to rise slightly over the next few years, he hasn’t raised them at all since taking over The Western in 2019. “We wanted to put people before profit. “, did he declare.
“When I was working at Glastonbury I saw people paying a lot of money for basic commodities and I thought there must be something better for punters.”
“So that’s what we’re doing. We’ll never be millionaires, but I’ll always buy our people a good cup of coffee.”
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