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coffee shop secrets :  

By Rebecca Watkins

With its hilltop location on the glorious Park Street, Pinkmans' fusion of bakery, café and restaurant is causing a stir. Voted by the Sunday Times as one of the top 25 bakeries in the UK, just a peek at their sour-dough-nuts and you can see why. I met with Julian the manager, a coffee-roasting fanatic, and Dan one of the bakers, to discuss baked goods, great coffee and great podcasts.

While Bristol has a lot of great independent eateries (especially bakeries), Pinkmans has an extra flair. Its sleek interior design, with a view from the entrance straight through to the geometric cage of the bakers, gives the place a fresh and open feel, constructing a space in which to be inspired. 

On a Wednesday morning it’s relatively quiet, a couple of creatives are working on sleek laptops and friends are meeting for a cup of the delicious 100% triple certified organic Peruvian coffee, part of the rainforest alliance that gives jobs to women in Peru. I try a seemingly simple short black coffee at Julian’s recommendation. It is dreamy-smooth with notes of flavour that dance around, my favourite a sweet caramel flavour that kicks the back of your mouth. This is addictive - and highly dangerous - going back to instant coffee would be sacrilegious.


Julian tells me he’s bringing the level of the coffee at Pinkmans up to match the incredibly high quality of the bakery. That’s one thing that is very evident here - the emphasis on the quality of ingredients. Even as a vegan, Julian says the fact the meat at Pinkmans is locally sourced from free-range farms makes him happy as he cares about the welfare of animals. For me, sustainability of a business is really important and Julian informs me that 90% of takeaway packaging is totally compostable. Pinkmans list all of their ingredients providers on their website, which are all unsurprisingly very local. This means their environmental impact is greatly reduced and for such an affordable and stylish bakery, it’s very impressive that their heart is in the right place as well. 

A look into the award-winning bakery at Pinkmans shows the extremely high standard that this place is working at. While the bakers get up at ‘stupid o’clock’ it seems like such a great environment to work in. Everyone carries a cheeky grin and greets you with warmth and openness. 

I met Dan, an expert in his baking field as he talked me through the process of the bread and pastries, the air temperature, while skilfully handling and checking on five different types of dough. It’s a 5-day process for all of the sourdough and all of it is baked on site in their wood-fired oven.

Dan explains that machines can never take the job of a baker,

‘Its all about how things feel, and how you feel about it.’

I ask him what its like to work at Pinkmans,

‘I say we’ve got work early, but that’s really nice. You got your music and that’s the best thing, most of the time you’re just hanging out with your mates, sharing ideas all the time. I mean Michael (the pizza baker) just showed me this podcast he just found about different flours and ancient grains, and that’s so nice.’

It’s no surprise then that they have some celebrity regulars, I hear from Julian that Roni Size, Bristol based record producer and DJ comes in all the time. I want to join him, but I don’t just want to eat here daily, I want to pack up, move in and nestle into the warm yeasty dough that Dan will be kneading again at 5am. 

Helicon Recommends: 

  • Sour-dough-nuts (literally any flavour!)

  • Olive and chilli sourdough bread

  • The Squash Vegan Pizza

  • Short black coffee

My own work is self-labelled as documentary photography, out of a lack of a better title. By carrying a camera daily, I aim to embody the spirit of the Brownie in making the means to photography ready to me at every moment, without obstruction – by doing so, I can take a photograph of anything that captures my eye and interests me enough to preserve. Any of us can do this these days, with a camera readily available in our pockets around the clock – and many of us do so without even thinking about it. Next time you take your phone out to take a photograph, whether it is of your friends or of something that caught your eye, think about how you are participating in the act of documenting your life through photography. Make prints of your favourites, display them on your walls, share them with your friends and family. Follow the tradition of those who came before you and took their own snapshots documenting their lives. Everyone is a documentary photographer today, and this is a good thing.

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