I have visited Bottega countless times, their place in Bond Court more so than their place in The Light, mainly because it's the closest place to my work that sells decent coffee. You're surrounded by chain coffee shops in Leeds no matter where you go, in a 200 yard radius around where I work you will find two Caffe Neros, Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Pret a Manager and various other places you can get substandard coffee from. I think you'll find this is the same in most cities and probably most towns too.
Since quick starting my coffee education at Laynes Espresso I now know why chain coffee tastes so crap, a combination of things namely poor beans, over roasting and a lack of attention to detail... and dare I say it, passion?
So what does Bottega do right that the chains are doing wrong?
Well first of all they are using the right type of beans, and they rotate their blends from artisan, independent and specialist coffee companies frequently. The beans aren't over roasted and bitter but flavourful and smooth to taste. They pay great attention to the details, from the weighing of the beans to the depth of the grind, the water, the milk and countless other factors which will stop you having a perfect cup of coffee. Bottega aren't afraid to show their customers what they're doing either, the sizeable tilted mirrors above the baristas are showing the customers that they have nothing to hide, these are confident that they are giving each and every customer the best cup.
In addition to coffee Bottega also offer a range of pastries, cakes, lunch foods and more recently they have started selling alcohol in the evenings too, so you can perk up with an espresso and chill out with a Aperol spritz. I've more than once tried one of their Pasticcini (little pastries curled up with fillings), a trio of three with your coffee in the morning is simply bliss and they come in a range of different flavours (and I am reliably informed a new range is on the way!).
As mentioned, I often pop in to Bottega for my morning coffee fix, if you follow me on social media you may have noticed my 'latte art to desk challenges' where I attempt to preserve the beautiful art work whilst I battle all weathers to get to the office. I've had lunch here a few times too, lunch options include Italian delights such as lasange, a range of cicchetti, paninis, arancini and pasta.
I first sampled their lunch offerings whilst winter coat shopping one Saturday. It was cold with a bitter wind, the shops were manic (as is the norm just before Christmas), D and I needed to seek refuge somewhere, somewhere away from the crowds, somewhere warm and friendly. Bottega ticks all the boxes.
As Bottega is slightly off the beaten track in terms of the main shopping district it tends to be a little quieter, however word has been spreading and their visitor numbers seem to be picking up, even on a weekend. We managed to secure a table in a corner towards the back of the room where we could sit snuggly and keep warm.
D and I both ordered the arancini, this is like no arancini I have seen before. They are massive. I am used to bite sized morsels that are no bigger than the meatballs you dot on your spaghetti. These monster arancinis are delicious, the flavour of the day was bolognese arancini packed full of flavour served warm with salad (balancing out the sins). It was just what we needed to refuel and tackle the crowds again.
I've popped in a few more times since, slowing making my way through their paninis with my current favourite being the spicy salami and mozzarella. I have never been disappointed, hence why I keeping gracing them with my presence and purse.
The staff that Bottega employ are simply fabulous. They greet every single customer who walks in the door, no matter how busy they are and they make a point of saying by or 'ciao' to everyone too. No matter how miserable I am in the morning I can't help but smile when one of the waitresses who works there greets me with 'hey lovely girl, what can I get you'. The guys and gals making the coffee are always spot on, I've only ever seen one person take their coffee back and I suspect that was because they were expecting the Costa experience.
I can't get enough of the atmosphere in both Bond Court and The Light, I delight in taking friends who haven't yet discovered them each and every time. I've even had business meetings here.
Keep up the good work guys.... I promise to come in and take some better pictures soon!!