Food review | Convoy Espresso – "airstreamers, coffee and toasties"

BPL442 28 November 2019

Convoy Espresso at Paintworks is serving up excellent eats with a generous dose of Scandi aesthetic

Web developer Josh had a conundrum. He was working at Paintworks, Bristol’s creative quarter near Arnos Vale cemetery, and had nowhere close or good enough to get a decent caffeine fix.

And so he banded together with friends Zak and Colin to start up his own coffee stop inside a couple of 1980s Airstreamers. They’d been home to an American Diner, so black and white checked flooring and greasy debris were duly ripped out to make room for an altogether more minimalist style, and 21 months ago in April 2018 Convoy Espresso was born.

BPL442 28 November 2019

The baristas at Convoy know their customers well, and barista Ri tells me most regulars come in daily. It’s no wonder – the bare wood tables, white interiors and abundance of succulents make the cafe a perfect clear-your-head-space for office workers in search of a break. The menu is as pared back as the decor – there are two toasties to choose from, along with an organic soup of the day and a choice of four toast toppings. I go for the ‘Goatie Toastie’ and an Americano and take a seat by the window. 

The Paintworks world goes by outside and a couple of guys behind me settle into a working lunch, the barbecued smells of this season’s other toastie option drift over, making me hungry. Everything in these Airstreamers has been thought through carefully, from the matching of the white and teal crockery with the striped awning, to the spread of indie magazines on display. I Shazam the tracks emanating from behind the bamboo while I wait: Try / Effortless by dvsn, Brooklyn Drugs by Berhana, LEAVE ME ALONE by KAYTRANADA. 

My toastie arrives freshly melted and grilled, with a side of peppery rocket and sunflower seeds. Sweet caramelised onion chutney cuts through the cheddar and tangy goat’s cheese, barely-there pear adds a pleasant juiciness, and the sourdough is both soft and crunchy. 

BPL442 28 November 2019

A Paintworker myself, I’m back at my desk within minutes; stomach full and heart rate suitably raised.

Convoy prioritises quality over speed, so you know you’re getting the goods, but it’s still a conveniently swift refuel which is ideal if you’re due back at the office within the hour. The sweets menu is shortbreads and brownies – from previous experience I know the brownie is to die for – and there’s a selection of breakfast pastries which are usually snapped up before noon. 

Convoy’s espresso coffee comes from Origin Coffee in Zak’s birthplace Cornwall, and filter coffee is supplied by Stokes Croft-based roasters Triple Co Roast. Having successfully ventured to a festival this summer with a suitably converted horsebox, Convoy are continuing the multi-purposing by renting out the Airstreamers in the evenings for meetings, workshops and whatever else takes the fancy of local business-people. Wonderfully, the cafe has just signed themselves up for Too Good To Go, the app that lets restaurants sell ‘magic bags’ of as-yet-unsold food to willing customers at the end of the working day. I’ll be sure to keep a look out for Convoy magic bags.

Caitlin Bowring

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The Paintworks, Bath Rd, Bristol BS43EH / hello@convoyespresso.com

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