Thursday, 28 September 2017

Esquires - Bradford City Centre

I first came across Esquires in New Zealand, way back in 2009, at the time you had to pay for Wi-Fi everywhere but in Esquires you could get unlimited Wi-Fi if you bought a drink. A good attraction for travellers who need to Skype family members or post envious pictures on Facebook.

At the tender age of 22 I wasn’t yet a coffee drinker and so the furthest my order went was for a cup of tea. I used to alternate between Esquires and Starbucks for my tea and Wi-Fi needs.

Fast forward a few years and I found myself spending 2 weeks in Bradford with some time to spare late afternoon. Once again I was in need in Wi-Fi and although now (in this country I can’t vouch for NZ having not been there for 7 years) it is in ready supply for free it’s often more reliable when you have to ask for the Wi-Fi code, plus I’m always on the lookout for good coffee. I had a few places recommended to me by the helpful people in my pocket aka Twitter, and I believe there was at least one recommendation for Esquires. A quick look on their social media for Bradford showed to me latte art and cakes in the newer developed area of the city centre, plus there was that essential Wi-Fi I needed to be able to work on my laptop. It looked like I could be on for a winner.

You’ll find Esquires near The Broadway, the place that was just a hole in the ground for some time whilst building work halted due to the recession or whatever other reason was given. The area is quite nice, with fresh looking buildings overlooking grand old buildings (Bradford has some amazing architecture if you care to look up). Esquires sits on the corner of a parade of shops, cafes and even a gym. It has big glass windows which makes for good light and a perfect people watching spot.

At around 4pm the place was rather quiet, as was most of Bradford City Centre (a far contrast to Leeds). I ordered my coffee at the till and snuck a piece of raspberry and almond slice in there too (not sure why they didn’t call it a Bakewell slice, trademark restrictions?).

Things were looking up when I found a table with not only a plug socket but also a USB socket. My laptop sadly only has two USB ports and one of those is permanently used by mouse so an additional USB port is always handy when you have a phone that only holds it battery for four hours. My coffee and cake was brought over to me in no time whatsoever and I politely asked for the Wi-Fi code. I connected straight away, perfect.

The coffee wasn’t the perfect latte art I had seen on their social media, there was no latte art about it with head of foam instead and scolded milk. The coffee is advertised as Fairtrade which is good but this particular blend wasn’t to my taste, it was very bitter and slightly over roasted. It was apparent that the loyalty card they had given me wasn’t going to be filled up any time soon.

Top marks for the cake as this was delicious, although I’m still flummoxed as to why it wasn’t called a Bakewell.

I struggled to find coffee shops (other than Costa, CafĂ© Nero and Starbucks) that were open past 5pm and I had time to waste until around 6pm so others would have left me with an hour with nowhere to go, wandering aimlessly around the shops with a heavy(ish) bag on my back. Plenty of coffee shops were recommended to me but they were either in the wrong direction and miles away from where I needed to be, a few bars and restaurants were recommended also but I didn’t feel I could set up a laptop and work in these types of places. I guess there is no need/want for coffee shops to be open much later than 5pm in Bradford, or perhaps the chains take all the custom after the core business hours.

Despite my coffee being poor on the first attempt, I gave them a second chance, surely someone who worked there knows how to make a good cup? Who else would be posting these velvety looking pictures all over their Instagram?  The second time was worse than the first, my coffee came even more scolded than last time and the waitress spilled it all over the saucer and the table. She apologised half-heartedly and then walked off. I was in too minds to ask for another cup but something told me that I would have a task on my hand in trying to do so, and so I left it drinking the worst cup of coffee that has ever been sold to me in a coffee shop.

I’m likely to find myself back in Bradford City Centre in the near future, if you have any recommendations, that will suit my needs, please let me know!

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