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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100% positive

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Review of "Atkinsons Coffee Roasters, Lancaster"

published 09/09/2017 | 2mennycds
Member since : 28/08/2015
Reviews : 264
Members who trust : 71
About me :
Bit worried about my wife's driving. She told me the other day that she nearly ran over a squirrell on her way to work - hey, this is an animal that LIVES IN A TREE!!
Pro Excellent range, truly specialist importer/supplier, first class service
Cons Deserves greater patronage
Value for Money
Standard of Menu
Standard of Service

"Great coffee (and tea) - and service - from this specialist shop"

Counter & shelves, Atkinsons  Lancaster

Counter & shelves, Atkinsons Lancaster

I am doubly indebted to this local, independent shop. At the outset, I should say that this review is of the shop ONLY – they do have an adjoining café, but I haven’t visited it.

Waffly pre-amble

FIRSTLY, a few years ago, I wanted to sample some fresh coffee. This was the obvious place to go. “Fresh” doesn’t come much fresher than from a shop that imports its wares directly, and grinds coffee to order. The coffees aren’t blends from ground beans of several varieties. They are ground from beans from specific plantations.

The other great thing about this, and many other independent specialist shops, is the HELP AND ADVICE on offer. The first time I went in, I declared my ignorance, stating that I wanted a coffee that had plenty of flavour but not too sharp. I was shown several aged tins of coffee beans, and invited to sniff their contents. Costa Rican, I was told, was a good starting point: double- roasted but not bitter.

Without exception, and with different staff on hand, I’ve had the same experience. They are all encouraged to sample the coffees on offer, and can therefore offer personal advice, rather than simply trotting out standard sales patter, or saying that they can’t really advise.

SECONDLY, Atkinsons helped to settle a long-running – though very amicable – dispute with a former colleague. He was appalled at my lack of sophistication in drinking fresh coffee from a mug rather than a twee, (thimble-like?) cup. “People like you,” I was told, “shouldn’t be allowed a cafetiere. I announced one day that I was going to visit Atkinsons and while making my purchase would ask for a definitive answer on the acceptably sized receptacle for drinking fresh coffee.

He wasn’t happy when I reported back to him triumphantly. He protested that they must just have deliberately given the answer I wanted so as to retain my custom; he then went on to say that his opinion of them as specialists had now been revised! When I retired, I gave him a pack containing a few scoopfuls of fresh coffee – and a rather large mug that we had at home that didn’t get a lot of use – as a “remember me” gesture!

First impressions

Atkinsons have been tea and coffee merchants since 1837. A personal visit to their shop truly is like taking a step back in time (making due allowance for the electric lighting and credit/debit card terminal!)

The centre of the floor has an enclosed (and safely protected) coffee roaster. Shelves and a cabinet on the left-hand side contain gift items such as cafetieres and tea pots. There are some classy artisan chocolate bars, that make lovely gifts, and some other items for sale. These vary a little form visit to visit, by include, for example, some craft ales, or some “traditional” home-baked tea loaf (of course!)

The counter top is original. So is the shelving unit behind the counter. So are the tins containing the teas and coffees on sale. They are dark and much of the enamelled or painted detail is hard to make out. It’s homely and conveys the sense that this is THE place to come to purchase tea or coffee!

I’ve never encountered much of a queue whenever I’ve visited, despite most my visits being at dinnertime (lunchtime to any posh readers!)

I’ve yet to encounter a member of staff who is anything other than polite and helpful – including teenagers.

~ ~ ~ ~ First impressions are great, both of the surroundings – hey, it FEELS like a specialist tea and coffee supplier – and of the staff.


Although Atkinsons sell fresh leaf tea as well as coffee, coffee is my main purchase. They stock coffee beans from South America, Africa, and from Pacific islands such as Papua New Guinea and Sumatra.

~ ~ ~ ~ My favourites are Las Delicias (the clue is in the name!), Rioki, and Old Brown Java. From time to time one coffee may not be available, and another comes on their scene. The fact of the matter is that, with coffee bean importation (as opposed to supplying merely blends from beans of compatible flavour), this is almost inevitable, especially with an independent importer/roaster.

~ ~ ~ ~ A visit in person means that I fairly often try a small quantity of another coffee, opting for just 125 grams.

~ ~ ~ ~ I always request mine to be ground for cafetiere use. Other grinds are available. Purchases can also be made of the actual beans if you have a grinder at home.

~ ~ ~ ~ Occasionally there is a bag available of the coffee I want and in the quantity I want. I know the shop and trust its reputation well enough to be certain that this will be very fresh. More usually the required coffee beans are weighed out – on traditional weighing scaIes! – and ground to order.


I confess to not drinking a lot of fresh tea. Atkinsons do, however, supply a range of leaf teas. I buy some Assam blend from time to time. I really enjoy its flavour, which I find full but not strong or acidic – though I’m afraid that, Philistine as I am, I drink it with milk added!


~ ~ ~ ~ I’ve never encountered any patronising attitude to myself or to other customers. Some specialist shops have a very unfortunate manner when a novice customer walks in. I could write at some length about another former specialist shop in the Lancaster area whose manger made Basil Fawlty look like he had a string of customer service awards!

~ ~ ~ ~ I’ve also yet to encounter any patronising attitude about low-value purchases. As it’s local to my home, I prefer to make my purchases little and often to optimise freshness. My average spend varies from £2-£5. I am always asked if I would like anything else, but there is no face-pulling or tutting if the answer is “No, thanks”!

~ ~ ~ ~ the tea or coffee is packed into their own branded, lined paper bags (for freshness). Their logo is of a grasshopper. This sounds obscure, I know – I take a keen interest in wildlife but have never yet seen a grasshopper drinking tea or coffee. The choice of logo is apparently due to grasshoppers always choosing the youngest, tastiest plant leaves – evoking the best leaves for a good tea!

~ ~ ~ ~ the assistant writes the name of the tea or coffee on the pack

~ ~ ~ ~ on one occasion a customer called in to pay for some coffee she had purchased the previous day and for which she had inadvertently not been charged. As well as thanking her for her honesty, the assistant gave her a small amount of complimentary fresh coffee.

Other items

~ ~ ~ ~ Atkinsons sell some merchandise – their “own” tee shirts and (nicely sized!!) mugs, as well as tote bags. They also offer for sale some of the sacks in which their tea or coffee arrive. Two Christmases ago, I bought a number of the specialist chocolate bars that they stock. These are really attractively wrapped, and, though they cost around £4 each, they looked and tasted a treat; I gave them to a number of work colleagues who had been supportive at a difficult time for me.

~ ~ ~ ~ they also sell a range of cafetieres and filter devices for making fresh coffee, grinders, machines, and filter papers as well as tea pots, gift packs, vouchers, and a small selection of craft ales and, sometimes, some artisan cake.

Concluding comments

I rate Atkinsons of Lancaster 5 stars

~ ~ ~ ~ I think specialist suppliers deserve support, especially if they have a high-street presence. Supermarkets sell blends of ground, roasted coffee, with descriptions of its strength and flavour on the packet. Atkinsons – and they provide their goods via the internet – go far beyond this; they sell specific coffees, not just blends.

~ ~ ~ ~ they really are a specialist supplier – they import directly, and I once heard the owner speaking to another customer about a visit he had made to South America to source some of the coffees

~ ~ ~ ~ I feel that they deserve patronising in person or on-line due to their excellent customer service.

+ + + + + + +

J Atkinson & Co, 10-12 China St, Lancaster LA1 1EX; Tel 01524 65470

Directions: On the main road leading north out of Lancaster, 100 yards or so beyond Waterstones bookshop and just before the hill leading down to the bus station. About 7 minutes’ walk from the bus or railway station (I’ve made allowance for the fact that you may not walk as quickly as I do!)

© 2mennycds September 2017

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Comments on this review

  • RICHADA published 14/09/2017
    I love the ambiance of these places and this one sounds a veritable treasure trove, you'd probably find me hanging out in the adjoining cafe. R.
  • Violet1278 published 14/09/2017
    This sounds lovely and a superb review. E from me.
  • Saraa23 published 13/09/2017
    Sounds great
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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