Review: Hoxton North

Coffee Shop: Hoxton North Harrogate – Parliament Street
Drink: Flat White
Beans: They didn’t really say…I’ll explain later
Price: £2.80

In their own words, Hoxton North “is an expanding group of London inspired coffeeshops and bars based in Harrogate”. I’d say it’s basically a fake hipster’s paradise and although that sounds a bit harsh, I don’t mean it in a bad way. Let me explain.

If you know London, the word “Hoxton” will be instantly recognisable as that cool little bit of Hackney, smack in the centre of Shoreditch, where you’ll find every wannabe cool kid on the planet. Shoreditch has so many independent little coffee shops, each which its own look and feel. Up north we’ve always had a lack of places like these. We have great independent places but they don’t have the feel of somewhere like Shoreditch or Camden. Hoxton North brings that feel up to us northerners. That’s why being a hipster’s paradise wasn’t such a bad thing to say after all.

So this begs the question: if they can bring the feel of a London coffee house, can they bring the quality?

Predictably I ordered a flat white and the first thing that struck me was the size of it. It was HUGE!! Usually a flat white is around 8oz or 10oz but this was easily a 14oz coffee. Not that I’m complaining. One thing that I can complain about is that the barista didn’t know what beans he was using which I thought was odd. Using inference, the stand out conclusion in my head was that the beans were most likely Columbian (or from somewhere in that direction) and grown at a high altitude given the mild nature of the flavour produced, the balance of acidity and the range fruity notes that came through.

In pure tasting terms, the overall sense was that there was a lack of complexity. Everything was very sweet and there was a long lingering aftertaste which, again, was very sweet. The coffee had a very earthy aroma with smokey, cedar notes and bits of cranberry and cherry thrown in the mix. These notes held true with the taste but with some subtle date and walnut notes added in on top. However the overriding taste was that of sweetness, most likely caused by the texturing of the milk.

In summary it was nice to drink but it was all a bit sickly and sweet and was lacking in depth for my personal taste.

The shop itself is very nice indeed. The decoration is inspired heavily by the afore mentioned London coffee houses and the crockery used to serve all the drinks was beautifully made and all finished in gloss black which blended in with the metal and wooden accents around the interior of the shop and contrasted nicely with the tiled walls. The entire place is very small and intimate which is a really nice feeling.

One thing that stuck out to me was that this particular coffee shop is what I would call a “pretend coffee shop”. By that I mean that although the decoration, the latte art and the range of exotic Italian words on a brown paper menu would lead you to believe this is a place for real coffee enthusiasts (like Bean & Bud – read my earlier review) but in actual fact there’s a basic range of drinks, no choice of beans from different producers, no origin story or anything like that.

I wouldn’t necessarily say this is a bad thing but I did notice a lot of people who were massive coffee know-it-alls (i.e. they gave lectures but knew absolutely nothing) and it seems like this is the kind of place that humours them. These people go so they feel like they’re knowledgable and cultural and in on the coffee scene, as it were. No disrespect to them but that’s the sense I got.

In summary I’d say it’s a really nice place to go but it’s not as genuine as they make it out to be. It’s a facade for what is, really, a glorified Costa. Sorry guys


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