For my second coffee hit in York I paid a visit to the Perky Peacock, located at Lendal bridge on the River Ouse. York is full of historic buildings, but this place has a historically interesting and quirky spot, hidden in an old toll booth (Postern Tower) overlooking the river. Opened by Nicola Peacock, an award winning barista four and a half years ago. It’s great spot, next to the river where rowers and York river boats frequently pass by, close to the main tourist trap of Medieval York and the train station.
Originally from Thirsk, Nicola got her Philosophy degree at York University, travelled around the USA and then got bored doing mundane office work. It wasn’t until the age of 21 did Nicola actually have her first taste of coffee, and for a period before Perky Peacock was born ran a mobile coffee shop with an espresso machine in a smart car! One of the unusual things she found was she couldn’t trade within the city walls, so Nicola would park up on the edge of the walls luring in coffee lovers, who quickly became regulars!
Nicola soon realised how much interest she had in coffee as a product, she loved the customer interaction and producing something great from a humble source is at the heart of what she does.
During this time she noticed the Postern Tower on her coffee route, it’s part of York’s famous city walls and was originally built as a toll tower to help restrict ships access to the town centre. As she was eager to discover who owned it, she posted letters through the letter box constantly to find out who was in possession of the place. Eventually finding out that York Boat who run the cruises along the river did, it worked out perfectly as Nicola has the space above, while the boating company still has the mooring.
Once inside the tower it has a quirky, oldie worldy feel and bags of character, I loved the wooden beams, the mix of furniture and decor make it really cosy and homely. With there being just four tables I’d say it’s small, but perfectly formed, making the most of the unusual space well. A great view is to be had if you can nab a table overlooking the river too.
As you’d expect from a barista who’s competed at the UK Barista Championships the coffee is pretty darn good, their seasonal espresso is from Cornwall based Origin coffee roasters. Only using coffee from roasters which deal in Direct Trade is of major importance to Nicola, it means that the best beans are 100% traceable and sustainable, grown by farmers they have built strong relationships with, ensuring they get a fair price for their crop and that the environment is well maintained. For guest coffees they have James’ Gourmet Coffee, who are based in Ross-on-Wye.
At the time I visited they were using Hunda Oli, an Ethopian espresso with delicate flavours of peach, apricot, lemon and jasmine. I had this in a lovely flat white made on their San Remo Verona machine, by barista Gabby Collet, who’d recently come 6th in the Latte Art category (the highest placed female) at the UK Barista Championships!
All the cakes are baked by Nicola’s mam, who has a tonne of baking experience, having baked for Harvey Nichols in the past. Coming from a farm she understands the importance of local produce, so stays close to home wherever possible, such as using local butchers on the Shambles.
Whether you’re a local, a city worker, or doing the touristy thing and walking the city walls, like you do; you’ll probably find yourself at Lendal Bridge where you’ll see a medieval stone tower with a slate roof – why don’t you pop inside, you’ll get treated well with excellent coffee and banter, a spot of food and a great view from a beautiful, historic part of York.The Perky Peacock