So several days later I left the kids (who were on half term hols) with Dad and told them I'd be back in half an hour. How wrong I was! Sure it may well be the worlds smallest cafe, but it is also the worlds most welcoming, most cosy and well, most social cafe - certainly that I have ever come across anyway. And so three and a half hours, two incredible coffees, and one pork pie later I headed home with nearly 200 shots and a few new friends.
I'll tell you a little more about Hayley and her cafe in a moment, but first come in and take a seat...
During her travels around Australia Hayley fell in love with coffee and the whole cafe scene. I mean truly fell. I like my coffee, I know what strength I like, a few brands I prefer more than others, and that I never let Paul make me a coffee unless I have a strange craving for Mellow Birds. But Hayleys love and knowledge of coffee is bordering on obsession. Upon returning to the UK she knew that all she wanted to do was brew and when she stumbled across the vacant 25 Wensum Street store she knew it was the perfect spot to do just that. So just over a year ago The Window Coffee's door opened for the first time. Just the right size to play host to a handful of customers at a time, but not so big that she gets bogged down with staff and paperwork - freeing her up to just do what she loves most, make coffee! And boy does she make a good cup...
When I told Hayley I liked my brew straight up on the rocks her eyes lit up and she told me I HAD to try an Aeropress. A relatively new invention it uses air to filter the ground coffee through a fine paper (don't ask me the science, but ask Hayley and she'll happily guide you through) so what you end up with is an incredibly clean and pure tasting cup which leaves the most heavenly taste in the back of your mouth. The clear plastic Aeropress contraptions are sold in the cafe - along with various packs of Hayley's handpicked roasts - so you can pick up everything you need to get a fix at home.
But then you'd be missing out on the second thing that makes The Window my favourite coffee shop in Norwich, and that's the company...
Hayley seemed to know everyone who walked through the door (and in my three and a half hour stay the cafe wasn't empty for more than a minute) and if they were first timers swift introductions were made and another regular was born.
But perhaps most importantly, with nothing more than a long bench and a comfy old stall to squeeze on, you had no choice but to chat with your fellow drinkers. And chat we did! It's real cafe society in here. Even Hayley's counter is pushed up against the wall so she doesn't get trapped behind and can join in the gossip.
On top of all this there's a great array of cakes and buns - I even got to feed my Brays Pork Pie addiction!
If you're Norwich based or Norwich bound you'd be sorry to miss this wonderful little place.
Oh, and one final note. Hayley is currently competing in the UK Barista Championships. She stormed her last round and is heading for the semi-finals in London on March 15th with the finals the following day. Her current scoring puts her a 'coffee bean's throw' from being crowned the winner.
So soon the UK's finest cup of coffee could be brewed up in the Worlds Smallest Cafe. I wish you all the best of luck Hayley, you've earned it!
STOP PRESS: 85 entrants, 3 rounds, god knows how many coffees. Hayley's highest hopes were to make it to the finals. Not only did she achieve this, but she came 5th, and is now the highest ranking female barista in the UK! For her first year this is one hell of an achievement and I have a feeling this girl could one day be number one. Though judging from the response her customers greeted her with on her homecoming, they already think she is! Congratulations Hayley... my first blogged celeb ;D