Nine times out of ten when I’m out and looking to meet up with a friend, a family member or a colleague I’ll choose a coffee shop. I’m a great lover of unique, unfamiliar places as opposed to chain brands when it comes to getting a cup of coffee. So FLTR, with all the quirks and intrigue was right up my street.
They are a local community based company with three core principles. Coffee, community and generosity. Registered under ‘Journey Communities’, a charitable incorporated organisation and church, they believe that building relationships adds value and enriches the community. Committed to the idea of restoration and recycling, their table tops, shelves and surfaces are made from reclaimed wood from an old school science lab. Whilst the seat cushion cloth is made from recycled plastic bottles. It is uniquely designed and receiving positive reviews online.
Walking through the door I am drawn straight to the lighting and walls – uncovered brick, with stunningly unique lighting protruding from the walls in the form of copper pipes with bulbs on them. Hanging lamps, suspended by pulley systems, it was unlike anything I had seen before. It had that fusion of the new and old, twisted into something altogether exciting, experimental.
Finding the perfect place to sit was difficult as there was such an excellent choice, I should note at this point that highchairs and a selection of games and toys are available if needed – which for us was very helpful as I had brought my 18-month-old daughter with me. It was spacious enough to move around but not so open you got lost.
Thirsty? – The drinks menu on the wall at the back of the counter is in the style of an element table and lists the main beverages. A wide assortment of styles and type of coffee are available, and you have the option to choose your own bean variety and method (read more about this later). Prices range from 50p to £3.00 with additional syrups and extra shots available at 50p each. They also have an excellent selection of cold drinks including an iced coffee range. We settled on a Cappuccino, an Iced Mocha and a Babyccino. That’s right for only 50p kids can be just like Mum, Dad or whoever they are pretending to be today with a miniature (and caffeine free) version of your favourite beverage.
Hungry? – They had some lovely treats available behind the counter, from Croissants, Flapjacks and various Muffins to the decadent looking Salted Caramel Brownie, Carrot Cake and Oreo Cupcakes which are all homemade! Being not quite ready to eat I opted to satisfy the child – a Gluten & Dairy free Coconut Flapjack would do the trick! That’s another thing to mention my daughter being dairy free I can find it difficult in a place like this to feed her but here it was not a problem at all. Their choices for those with dietary needs were varied, even the Babyccino was made with Oat Milk called ‘The Original Oatly’ – which is also 100% Vegan! Options such as a Pitta & Hummus plate or selection of sandwiches on a choice of bread for £3. Not forgetting the Ham & Cheese Croissant, again pricing at £3.
The personal touch - After chatting with Jeff & Steve, who along with their wives and Uta (assistant manager) manage FLTR, I understood the passion they have for both coffee and their local community. The coffee shop is run as a not for profit organisation, with any profit going back into local charities. They are actively interested in everyone who walks through the door, getting to know not only the person’s name but also their stories. They take the time to make sure that you feel welcome and have a fantastic pay it forward offer – ask inside for details about this one I beg you! In creating this place, there was a sharp vision for not only the values they wanted to keep hold of but also the design and general feel of the place. Wanting to make sure that both men and women felt at home and the idea of bringing the magic of coffee into everything they do was essential, so words like ‘strong’ and ‘science’ were used in the creation of their signature stylings. Even down to the service of some of their coffee being filtered with the use of a conical flask – those glass beaker things I clearly remember being used for science experiments when in school. Part of the counter top even looks like a science lab with interesting shaped glasses, pots and very shiny grinders. The staff wear denim aprons that make them look like they have just walked out of a workshop. Everything ties together nicely. They are also dedicated to offering positions to teenagers from their local community after school. Offering face to face experience with customers and a chance, under their guided training to gain valuable skills. Primarily run by volunteers this is a truly magical place to visit as everyone inside wants to be there and is loving it.
Choose your Method
V60 - For the filter coffee and americano lovers who want to explore. Using our Hario V(shaped) 60(degree) copper cone filter with Japanese paper insert we custom grind a wide range of different, fresh, in season coffees from many regions around the world to offer unique flavour notes of your choosing. Made for you by hand at our pour over bar where you can watch the science involved in making your perfect cup of coffee. This method is gravity filtered over the beans for about 2.5 minutes releasing trapped CO2 from the roasted bean giving a very smooth taste. It’s clear, slightly ruby coloured coffee.
Aeropress - Using similar methods as the V60, these grounds are steeped with exact timing quickly pressed through a right paper weave filter to get a perfect extraction time without soaking your grounds indefinitely like a Cafetiere. This method also preserves the notes of the coffees of different regions and produces a cloudy, flavourful coffee.
Siphon - This is a fantastic science lab activity using two glass flasks sealed together, using a live Bunsen burner to heat the water is spectacular to watch. It’s coming soon to the menu, dramatic and very worth the cost for the experience of the mad scientist approach to a perfect cup of coffee. This method suits dark roasts and fans of bitter chocolate notes.
Cold Brew - Is, as you guessed it, cold! The unique element is that heat is NEVER used to brew the coffee. With this method time is the tool. We coarse grind beans and mix them at a high concentrated level with cold filtered water and let it steep for at least 16 hours. No need to order ahead! We set it steeping the night before so it’s ready when you arrive. We pour the cold grounds and water through a tight mesh filter to get a remarkably smooth, deep, rich and strong tasting cold coffee perfect for hot days. The caffeine is higher than some others but the taste is much smoother than you would ever expect for a coffee of this strength. It is served over ice and becomes a sweet treat when a drizzle of simple sugar syrup or even milk is added. Move over Frappuccino!
PAY IT FORWARD Why not help another by using their pay it forward scheme? Buy yourself and another a coffee and FLTR will then provide a cuppa to someone who needs it. Help them practise generosity within the community.
FLTR, Nightingale Place, Langford Village, Bicester OX26 6XX
2018, Your Letterbox