Bear Pit Social, City Centre, Bristol

20130825-163447.jpgBristol is a city full of change: once drab walls become beautiful design projects, empty shops turn into temporary theatres and, occasionally, homeless pianos are left for the public to play. So it seems particularly apt that one of it’s most infamous eyesores is slowly transforming into an arts space, home to a shipping container that now hosts the Bear Pit Social coffee shop.

Much of the rough patina remains, of course – market stalls and ping pong tables mingle with cans of Scrumpy Jack, broken phone boxes and muscly, ankle-height dogs and there’s no getting away from the fact that you’re in the sunken centre of one of the city’s busiest roundabouts. The view to the Premier Inn does little to inspire, and the locals’ welcome is not always one you’d expect… but it’s Bristol to the core.

The Bear Pit opened it’s sides to the public in January this year and has been doing a decent trade ever since. It’s run by a lovely couple who’ve graduated from hastily assembling gazebos in winter to the more solid walls of the container, their professional coffee maker brightly polished whatever the weather. As well it should be, for the coffee is great.

Most coffees comes with 2 shots of espresso – though the faint of heart need only ask for less of a punch – and there are shelves full of loose leaf teas that can be served in proper teapots (fans of the former Lahloo Tea Shop will be well served here). Cakes, meringues and friands add something sweet, while the artistic amongst us can borrow chalks to make the Bear Pit all the brighter. A lovely space indeed.

Price: from £1.50 (filter coffee) to £2.20 (latte).

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