I have often reviewed great coffee shops in London and discovered that Birmingham was not devoid of excellent independent coffee bars. There are great coffee shops in St Ives and St Agnes in North Cornwall and I hear Bristol, Leeds and Edinburgh have an excellent independent coffee scene too. However, Southampton, where I live, was sadly lacking in this area.
I’ve no idea when Mettricks coffee appeared on the scene; probably after I gave up trying to find a decent cup of coffee in Southampton. It was in London when I first heard of Mettricks in Southampton. I was at a press event where I met someone who happened to mention his son worked in a new coffee bar in Southampton. Several enquiries later I discovered they have three coffee bars in the centre of the city. One is at Bargate, the old gateway to Old Southampton, another is in the Old City and the third is close to the Guildhall. This was the one I finally visited.
Mettricks is located on a corner of a block of eating places with a pedestrianised area. Acres of glass allow plenty of light into the seating area. A brightly painted jazz themed panel gives a foretaste of what to expect inside (more on this in a moment). This however was not permanent as the window had been boarded up ofter someone had put a brick through it. Still it showed imagination and innovation and in my opinion should be a permanent feature.
Inside I was struck by how spacious it seemed. In one part of the seating area the ceiling was a full two storeys high. Over looking this area was a mezzanine floor. This latter area was also an area for drinking coffee but was more relaxed with a few more sofas and easy chairs spread around. On both floors there was an eclectic mix of seating and tables.
The coffee and all the food is served over a wooden top counter by cheery baristas always willing to engage in conversation about the coffee. You are given a wooden spoon in a bottle for your table and your order (food or coffee) will be brought to your table when it is ready. There is a wonderful selection of eats both savoury and sweet most of it handmade. The carrot cake and the salted caramel brownies really should be top of your choices.
There is a great selection of coffee drinks during the day along with tea, chai and chocolate in their various forms. On both my visits I ordered a flat white. Using coffee roasted by Union the barista produced one of the most amazing flat whites I have had in recent times. Certainly it was better than anything else I have experienced in Southampton and indeed the south coast. It was full bodied with a distinct nutty undertone and dark chocolatey notes.
It seems that the trend to showcase art in coffee houses is all perasive and Mettricks was no exception. Apart from the temporary art outside (see above) works of art were dislayed an much of the wall space. When I was there the mezzanine walls were exhibiting the work of a photographer documenting the refugees in Afghanistan.