Jamaica Blue is a product of Australia, or rather it was founded there 20 years ago. If you haven't heard Australia has a big coffee culture, I don't mean crappy coffee culture like they have in the US (not pointing any fingers at big coffee chains) but rather mastering coffee to a point where at least half the nation are coffee snobs. Sounds like my kind of place.
I'd never heard of Jamaica Blue until it popped up in Trinity Leeds, when I discovered it was an international Australian franchise I was intrigued by what they had to bring to the Leeds coffee scene. It would have some steep competitors with the likes of Laynes, La Bottega Milanese and Mrs Athas amongst some of the local coffee producers such as Casa Espresso and Northern Star. The name 'Jamaica Blue' is apparently inspired by the blue mountains of Jamaica where they source their coffee (so their website tells me) and they even have their own coffee estate here too. They're apparently doing quite well for themselves (if the estate in Jamaica wasn't enough proof) and have numerous cafes all across Australia and now further afield such as China, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and now the UK.
They don't only do coffee, they do food too, fresh food prepared on site and most importantly they also serve Brunch/Breakfast until late. Already in my good books I was delighted to accept an invitation to pay them a visit on their opening day.
We arrived around 12.30pm and they were already looking fairly busy, we were greeted at the door and told today it would be table service, I guess it isn't normally? A further hint that table service isn't the norm when we sat down and noticed the little chrome number plate on the table.
We were asked if we knew already what we'd like to drink before we had chance to look at the menus, luckily I did and I ordered a flat white. W my lunch partner for the day didn't and so took some time to glance over the drinks menu.
Despite their website not being too UK friendly yet W had done some prior research and had acquired a PDF version of their menu. We therefore already knew what we wanted to eat. Pancakes. I mean, who doesn't want pancakes for lunch on a Thursday afternoon?
When the waitress appeared again W ordered a hot chocolate, although I suspected she had forgotten that W hadn't yet ordered her drink by the look on her face when she started with a drink. I already had mine by this point too.
The coffee wasn't living up to expectations when it appeared minus latte art, I know it doesn't really add to the taste but it definitely adds to the experience. Having an instagramable coffee makes it feel that little bit more special. The coffee was good, but perhaps I had built it up too much in mind, it just didn't quite meat expectation. It wasn't as refined as I was expecting and there was a tang of bitterness to it that I don't find in Laynes and La Bottega's blends. W's hot chocolate however looked spot on, complete with creamy oozing over the sides I was envious of her winter warmer.
W ordered the maple syrup and bacon pancakes and I ordered the vanilla and blue pancakes. Each dish was served with three pancakes and toppings.
I've never had an Australian pancake before but they are much slimmer than the American pancakes I make at home, they were more of a crossbreed between and English and an American pancake. I was surprised by the topping on my pancakes, as they didn't exactly look like the blueberries I am accustomed to but instead looked more like blackberries... and had someone had a little nibble of my pancake too?
W had a couple of rashers of bacon on her pancakes soaked in sweet maple syrup, I'm not a fan of sweet bacon I once tried it in a brownie and haven't tried it again since. W loved her pancakes and lapped them up almost as quickly as myself.
One thing that struck me was how bright it was in Jamaica Blue, lighting up these dark winter days no doubt but they could pull down the dimmer switch a notch or too (if not only for the bloggers whose pictures are blinded by the light reflecting off of their whiter than white plates). The mirrors on the walls provide helpful spying tools when deciding what to eat as you can indirectly spy on other tables, to which that afternoon I saw them serving the largest glasses of wine... if you can I guess!
My heart is still captured by the other coffee places in Leeds but I would be tempted to go back and sample their other brunch offerings (this being my favourite meal at the moment - blogger cliche I know) such as the breakfast frittata and the breakfast baguette.
Have you heard of Jamaica Blue before? Have you been yet, what did you think?