Yorkshire and The Humber

Café Harlequin, York

27 June 2009

Hard-to-find Harlequin is a nice place with really good coffee.

Café Harlequin, York

It popped up from right under my nose.  York is my home town and it troubles me to think that this coffee shop went undiscovered for so long….. my radar is obviously not what I thought it was.

I had heard good things about it but not, as such, as a coffee shop.  But then I started hearing good things about the coffee.  So, a visit was due….

Café Harlequin, York Café Harlequin, York

My coffee (a mocha, heaven forbid) was great.  The beans, including a custom Harlequin blend, come from the renowned Has Bean roastery (http://www.hasbean.co.uk/).  There are bags on sale under the guise of “The Coffee Shack”.  Co-owner Gordon explained later that one variety was in the winning cup at the 2008 World Barista Championships.

My partner plumped for a tea and was given the option of milk or lemon to accompany (a nice touch).  She tells me it was delicious.  It came loose in a china pot, to be poured through a strainer (another nice touch).

Café Harlequin, York Café Harlequin, York

It’s in a bit of an odd spot.  Bang in the centre of York, on the first floor and accessible through an inconspicuous beige door.  As a result, there’s limited passing trade, and many of the customers are regulars.

The interior is unlike most other coffee shops in this blog.  It’s a big room, distinctly tea-roomy with its table cloths, round glass-topped tables, pale walls, chandeliers and ornate mirror.  It has little of the character I hanker after in indie coffee shops (contrast with Coffee Culture, just round the corner, and the Perky Peacock).

Café Harlequin, York

Gordon tells me he hopes to open a second room upstairs and to generally re-arrange things a bit, including popping in a few comfy sofas.  As it is, it’s nicely decked out, just not my cup of tea(room).

But everything else is great, including friendly service and excellent drinks.  The food is good, with efforts made to source local produce.

Café Harlequin, York Café Harlequin, York
Gordon showing us the ropes………………….and my fumbling attempt at a latte

About a month before my visit, Gordon had found out about my interest in all things coffee, and he kindly invited me and my girlfriend along for a behind-the-scenes tour, which was fascinating.  What do you mean it was only for a write-up in Cosy Coffee Shops….?  Don’t be so cynical.

My later visit as a “normal” customer was strictly incognito, while Gordon was away.

Café Harlequin, York
One of Gordon’s creations

Gordon has competed successfully in regional barista and latte art championships and loves what he does.

It’s always good to find someone who is passionate about nice things, whether it’s coffee, tea, food or anything else.  Things at Harlequin are done with perfection in mind.

Café Harlequin, York Café Harlequin, York

2 Kings Square

We visited on 27 June 2009.

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  • Damon Foster 10 March 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Without doubt my favourite coffee shop in York. A haven of good taste and good value right in the middle of the busy city centre. Gordon always has a great range of coffees on offer and you can buy a bag to take home (whole or ground to your preference).

  • Gary Brammer 2 May 2010 at 6:26 pm

    An excellent cup of coffee with a wide range of beans Gordon also invited me for a guided tour and a half hours tuition and I have no affiliations what so ever First class

  • David Nicholson 19 January 2011 at 8:49 am

    I visit yourk once or twice a year and always make a B line for Harlequin, great coffee great tea, food and staff. Is it possible to purchase some green citrus rooibos?

  • The Best Indie Coffee in the North of England | from Groupon's UK Blog 5 July 2011 at 3:21 pm

    […] up north. So where can we northerners head for a good brew?YorkStarting in my home town of York, Harlequin and The Perky Peacock are dead certs for superb coffee. Both get their beans from renowned roastery […]

  • Efrog | Gwenu Dan Fysiau 24 June 2012 at 9:59 pm

    […] am rhywbeth rhatach, triwch Cafe Harlequin (King Square, uwchben Labroke’s). Mae’r decor yn eitha plaen, ddim rhy brysur, ond […]

  • Best cafe in York - Coffee Hunter 4 October 2012 at 11:04 pm

    […] good coffee in York. We were about to cave in and go to Costa but I jumped on FourSquare and found The Attic cafe. The ground floor looks like a normal tea rooms (The Harlequin) so we’d ignored it while […]

  • kate 25 January 2013 at 10:28 am

    I questioned as to why the coffee wasn’t as good as it had been previously and was informed the beans and supplier had changed ‘six weeks ago’.

    Change is fine, but not when it’s a negative one.

    I won’t be visiting again.

  • olivia 17 December 2014 at 3:53 pm

    I wish I’d read Kates comment. But now I understand. Staff pleasant. But the coffee is not the best. Almost tastes watered down.
    We also object to chocolate being sprinkled on without asking if we wanted it.
    Also no soya milk option.