Atkinsons Coffee Roasters, Lancaster

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Atkinsons Coffee Roasters, Lancaster

Coffee Shop - Address: 12 China Street, Lancaster LA1 1EX

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Review of "Atkinsons Coffee Roasters, Lancaster"

published 21/07/2017 | sellerleygirl
Member since : 15/02/2015
Reviews : 943
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About me :
♬ •♩ All we need is rates!! •♩ Everybody!!•♩ All we need is rates!! ♩ •♬
Pro A coffee (and tea) lovers paradise
Cons You're spoilt for choice
Value for Money
Standard of Menu
Standard of Service

"Wake up and smell the coffee - it's not burnt toast!"

Atkinsons Coffee Roasters, Lancaster

Atkinsons Coffee Roasters, Lancaster

Atkinsons Coffee Roasters, Lancaster


I have now been a resident of Lancaster for 11 years; I was though born, and lived in Widnes for the 50 + years prior to that. For the first 20-odd years of my life Widnes was in Lancashire until ‘they’ decided to put us in Cheshire. However, I always classed myself as a Lancashire Lass – and as the mighty Widnes Rugby League team were always winning the Lancashire Cup – we must have been.
Before we moved to Lancaster (and confirmed my Lancastrian status) we were constant visitors to the area; starting with a touring caravan that we used to have on a little site on the River Lune, just outside Morecambe behind the Golden Ball pub. Now – although this review is about a coffee roasters, I must tell you a little more about this pub, as it has a fascinating history!
This pub is better known by locals as ‘Snatchems’; there has been a pub or inn there the mid-1600s, the current main building was built in 1710. There are several stories of how the nick name 'Snatchems' came about; one is from when all the local farmers used to gather for a drink in the mid-1700s, in those days many farmers added to their meagre income by thatching roofs and the pub was nick named 'Thatchems'. However, the more common explanation comes from an era when the River Lune was used as a shipping channel and as the tall ships were about to sail out on the high tide they would check how many men they had and make up any short-fall by sending a boat across to the pub and 'Snatch' anyone they could...when the men sobered up they would be half way to India!!

But I digress, sorry!! Anyone who knows the Lancaster area will know that (before the new Heysham to M6 Link Road – the Bay Gateway) was opened last year the only way to Morecambe was through the notoriously dreadful one-way system in Lancaster and over the – frequently congested Greyhound Bridge. Consequently, over the years travelling to Morecambe, and later through Lancaster when we bought a holiday home at Glasson Dock, I spent hours stuck in traffic on the road from the city; and something that we noticed very frequently was a dreadful burning smell.
“There must be a cafe her that is always burning the toast”, was my explanation of this smell, noting to myself not to eat in any nearby establishments.
It was not until living in the area, and walking through the city I realised that this smell wasn’t burnt toast – but was in fact the smell of coffee beans being roasted at Atkinsons Coffee Roasters!
Now, I am a HUGE coffee fan, but believe me – this smell had me fooled!
About Atkinsons

For 180 years Atkinsons have been supplying coffee to the residents of Lancaster and the area; in fact, it was in 1837 (just as a Young Victoria had come to the throne) that a certain Thomas Atkinson opened the first Grasshopper Tea Warehouse in the city, supplying high quality teas and coffees.
Since then, five generation have run J. Atkinson & Co. who moved to their current historic premises in China Street in 1901 -they now supply an enormous selection of wholesale and retail businesses locally and as far afield as London.
On entering this wonderful little shop on China Street, you are transported back to an age of elegance; you feel like you have left the high tech 21st century far behind and time seems to be suspended in the late Victorian/early Edwardian era.
The results of five generations of continuous trading in the City have resulted in a spectacular gathering of delightful tea and coffee objects; things like incredibly decorated tea canisters that date from as far back as the 1820's and a wonderful (and original) dark wood spice drawer-run that boast with Uranium glass drawer knobs. The walls of the shop/museum are covered with original tea and coffee urns, and vintage 1930s direct flame coffee roasters which bring out the subtle aromas and individual flavours from a huge range of different coffees. There is a 1930's tea blender, (which is the size of a small cement mixer) and ‘Whitmee’ Coffee Roaster; while in the window sits a small ‘Uno’ coffee roaster that is responsible for that aroma that wafts out into the streets of Lancaster today.

Everything in this quaint and interesting shop has been lovingly cared for and looked after, the scoops and scales that have been used to serve people for over 100 years are still used on a daily basis.

J. Atkinson and Co was handed down from husband to wife to son, to son-in-law, to his son and then to a daughter over five generations until the Atkinson line was finally exhausted. That is when the current owners, Ian and Sue Steel became the sixth generation, with seventh generation in waiting, their two sons Maitland & Caspar.
The Steels roast the coffee beans every day and have an excellent reputation for their coffees and have won an impressive collection of awards, including, the award for best coffee in the UK presented by The Beverage Standards Association.

The shop sells over 80 types of coffee beans, with names like Fazenda Sao Fransisco (described as Chocolate Honeydew Melon), Old Brand Java, Lancaster Blend and Rahmat Inhara to name just a few. The coffee is sold as beans or the shop will grind it for you to you desired grain – be it for cafetiere, filter etc. It can be bought in 125g, 250g, 500g and kilo bags and is priced from £5.50 - £10 for a 250g bag.
The Uno Coffee Roaster

The famous Uno 7lb roaster, was originally built in London in 1919, and it was actually retrieved from the famous Liverpool department store – Lewis - when it closed in 2010, by Atkinsons owner Ian Steel. However, after inspecting it, Ian discovered that several crucial parts were either broken or missing.
Ian contacted the Lancaster Product Development Unit at nearby Lancaster University, and together they managed to get the Uno roaster working again, allowing Atkinsons to sell “genuine artisan coffee,” and to allow people enjoy coffee like they were doing a hundred years ago.

I may be an expert on drinking coffee, but when it comes to the Uno, let a real expert – Ian Steel -tell you more about it!

“The Uno is an amazing, elegant piece of design, including a beautiful A-frame and a drum, and it roasts the most amazing coffee. We have a larger 14lb Uno in our shop, which is 70 years old and wins competitions, beating more technologically-advanced modern machines.

This is genuine artisan coffee. The Uno heats the beans from the centre of the barrel using an open flame, resulting in a more complex flavour. It is a real novelty thing and it is a lovely addition to our stable of roasters. My dream would be to put these Uno machines back into production – it would be fantastic to be able to revive such an elegant, simple design and let more people enjoy coffee like they were doing almost a century ago.”

” Ian Steel, Owner, J Atkinson & Co.
The Hall

In 2012 Atkinsons opened the former Priory Hall, which is right next door to their tea and coffee shop, serving fantastic teas and coffee with freshly baked cakes, scrumptious pudding, savoury snacks and meals and alcohol during the day and until 22.30 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with live music on Saturdays from 9pm.
The Hall is an old historic building with beautifully carved ceilings, it has quirky décor and has silent movies playing on the walls. At one time, this building was the Church Hall for the Priory (which is situated just up the hill beside the castle) and it is place.

Since opening in November 2012, The Hall has won awards for BSA Best Flat White, UKBC Heats Best Espresso and Cappuccino and recently has produced semi-finalists in the UK Barista and Latte Art Championships.

This is a wonderful place to stop and take a break from shopping in the city and having a delicious cup of coffee – with beans that were roasted just next door!


• Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Brunch
• Takeout available
• Wheelchair Accessible
• Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa,
• Free Wi-Fi
• Child-friendly
• Open Hours
Sunday: 11:00 - 16:00
Monday: 09:00 - 17:00
Tuesday: 09:00 - 17:00
Wednesday: 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday: 09:00 - 22:30
Friday: 09:00 - 22:30
Saturday: 09:00 - 22:30

More details at:
My Opinion


I can still remember the first time I stepped over the doorstep of this incredible little shop in Lancaster. I had gone to buy some coffee for my coffee- loving son-in law to go with the Moka pot I’d bought him for his birthday. I felt like a kid in a toy shop – it was such an incredible place. It reminded me of a replica of one of these ‘shops’ in places like Beamish or York’s Castle Museum, or ana establishment in Diagon Alley . I felt that I should have been wearing a crinoline, surely, I had gone through a time portal and gone back 100 years.

With deep mahogany shelves and fantastic wooden drawers, tea urns, bags of coffee beans and all types of old (and new) coffee and tea paraphernalia and the air is full of a wonderful aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans.
As well as a wide selection of leaf tea and coffee beans or ground coffee, you can also buy chocolate to make delicious hot chocolate, anything from local fudge, glass tea pots, bottled beers and ales, cafetieres, wonderful art deco coffee pots etc .

I have not drunk tea for 46 years (I went off it when pregnant with my first child and have not drunk it since) , so I can’t comment on the teas available – but I know that there are a lot!! However, the coffees are amazing, and with such passionate and knowledgeable staff you are sure find exactly what will be just your cup of tea (well coffee!!).
The staff let you smell whatever coffee you want, they explain the various tastes and they weigh out the beans using century old scoops and scales. If you want beans they are poured directly into an old fashioned brown paper bag with either a label on or the staff member writes on the name; if you want to ground they ask you how you are going to use the coffee and they then grind it to suit your needs, before pouring it into the same bags.
This shop is like a working museum, it is a great place to buy the best tea or coffee or to pick up an unusual gift, or just to stand in awe and have a look around and learn more about the lineage of our tea and coffee making obsession.


You cannot park outside Atkinson’s so I either go into town on the bus or park up somewhere and walk; so, when, five years ago, the old Priory building next door was made into a café – The Hall – it was a welcome spot to stop and have a welcome sit down after walking around the rather hilly city!!
This is a really unusual and quirky, not a cosy little café, but the old Priory church hall means that it is a large, airy industrial type room with minimalist, industrial styling and furniture and silent films playing on the walls. There is a long table across the middle of the room, as well as several 2-4-person tables around the edges. It is always full of an eclectic mix of people, from yummy mummies with their prams (as there is loads of space for prams, pushchairs and wheelchairs, students huddled over their laptop as they work on their dissertation, ladies who lunch, old biddies (like me) getting their breath back – in fact it is a fantastic place to sit with a delicious coffee and people watch!

The coffee is excellent and there is also a wide selection of tea for tea drinkers. The staff are friendly and know how to make a good coffee (e.g. flat whites, lattes, cappuccinos or black coffee made in a coffee siphon) and have a delicious selection of freshly baked cakes baked in their own bakery There is often live music playing, and people dancing,, people regularly bring their dogs in who are happily provided with water.
They have a delicious selection of freshly baked cakes, it may be a tad on the pricey side but no more expensive than you would expect for an artisan coffee shop, with freshly ground beans and freshly nakaed bread and cakes.

If, like me, you're a coffee lover, or maybe a tea fanatic, if you love to sit and watch an eclectic mix of Lancaster’s residents, love to sit and have a chat or just have a welcome rest or need a this is the perfect spot. A lovely place for a coffee or a spot of lunch, no, it is the BEST place for coffee, it is definitely worth a visit.

Buying the Coffee

So, you love a good coffee and you really fancy a cup one of the delicious Atkinson’s blends, but you live too far away? No worry – you can order online!
Go to their website, where you can browse and order just what you want.

Delivery Prices

• Up to 500g = £4.90
• 501g - 1kg = £4.50
• 1kg - 5kg = £5.50
• Over 5kg = free
• Spend over £50 = Free (UK ONLY)
Getting There

Leave the M6 at junction 33 and take the A6 to Lancaster city centre. Atkinsons is on Cina Street (the main road through the city) but it has no private parking, so you need to park on Castle Hill or Dallas Rd.

Parking Prices

• Up to 1 hour £1.40
• Up to 3 hours £2.50
• Up to 5 hours £4.20

Public Transport Directions

Lancaster Castle railway station is 500 yards from centre of town. turn left onto China Street.
Lancaster bus station just is 5 minutes’ walk away, just take Bridge Lane to China Street, and follow your nose!

Contact Details

10-12 China Street

Telephone 01524 65470 (the Hall 01524 65470)
Fax: 01524 65464


Many things have changed in Lancaster since Thomas Atkinson opened the first Grasshopper Tea Warehouse, but reassuringly as a good cup of tea or coffee is still available. Entering this modest looking shop, is like a step back in time into a stylish world of old fashioned ‘emporiums’.
Follow this off with a sit down in The Hall, take in the quirky surroundings (and often cliental) and enjoy a delicious drink and snack.
No trip to Lancaster would be complete without a visit to J. Atkinson and Co - just follow your nose!


1. The shop window
2. Some of the old tea caddies in the shop
3. The shop counter
4. Bags of beans and price list
5. The coffee bagged up after sale
6. A selection of loose tea
7. The Uno in the window
8. Coffee syphon in The Hall
9. In The Hall
10. Another shot of The Hall

#Thanks for reading I do hope that this review has been of some help!
© Sellerleygirl July 2017

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This review was read 211 times and was rated at
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Comments on this review

  • kiss_me2070 published 24/07/2017
    Great review - E.
  • Nymphypig published 24/07/2017
    Sounds fab!
  • euphie published 24/07/2017
    e :o)
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Product Information : Atkinsons Coffee Roasters, Lancaster

Manufacturer's product description

Coffee Shop - Address: 12 China Street, Lancaster LA1 1EX

Product Details

Type: Coffee Shop

City: Lancaster

Address: 12 China Street, Lancaster LA1 1EX

Country: England

Continent: Europe

County: Lancashire


Listed on Ciao since: 16/07/2017