I was brought up in Folkestone, and circumstances have led me here again for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, I have never had much respect for the town, and sneered at recent attempts at regeneration. To some extent, I am still cynical, but the attempts have certainly been valiant. The ‘Creative Quarter’ as it has been dubbed has seen loca entrepreneurs stump up the money to reinvigorate an area of Folkestone that was once among the most run down. Fuelled by art and crafts, this Creative Quarter has recently seen many shops spring up taking advantage of the new market for independent, artisan goods that this infusion of culture has created. The Old High Street is now full of small shops, displaying local art, and coffee shops and patisserie. Further into the Harbour, the new restaurant, Rocksalt, is trying to introduce gourmet to the Folkestoneian palette.
Even as a cynic, I do admire the scope and quality of the regeneration that has so far occurred. Moreover, I do appreciate the hard work that these locals have put into the area. But behind every ounce of progress is several ounces of coffee. Having been away for some years, I had discovered Googies Cafe through a friend who had recommended it for its food. The food is indeed of a good quality, and one day I will write something about the boldness that it assumes in bringing an eclectic mix of food to Folkestone. However, as always, I like to concentrate on the coffee at hand.
Having been thoroughly impressed when Folkestone gained its first Starbucks, a development that cultivated my interest in coffee as a teenager, I was fully expecting the situation to be the same now. Where would one go for good coffee? I shouldn’t have been so skeptical. The coffee at Googies is fantastic, and roasted by Alchemy, a small roaster I’m unfamiliar with. They provide drip, espresso and aero press (!) coffees, and have regular quality blends on filter, as well as house blend for espresso. The passion that goes into these coffees was obvious, as I spoke with the barista about various methods of preparation, and how he likes to fiddle with all aspects of the brewing, from temperature to the glass its served in (see pic). The coffee, straight from an aero press, was a beautiful Chiri Ethiopian that increased in flavour as it was left to stand. The thick citrusness of the bean was clear and sharp. The taste wasn’t harsh on the tongue, though was by no means sweet either. It had a balanced, rich taste, but had an overall sharpness which told of quality, rather than distaste.
The ambience of Googies is interesting. It’s somewhere between an aboriginal feel and a belgian bistro, with European beers lining the walls, and a bicycle downstairs. It also holds regular live music events too. For those of you who haven’t been to Folkestone, it’s difficult to convey how indicative Googies is of a development in the town as whole. I hope it lasts. But if not, I hope Googies is there at least until I move away again so I have somewhere nearby to get proper coffee.