Penbuckles Delicatessen, 50 High Street, Hastings, East Sussex. Saturday, 1.10 pm
Flat white: £2.30. Served in a glass on a saucer, coffee scalding so didn’t feel optimistic, but it looked good so all hope was not lost. When it was finally cool enough to drink, there was a slight burnt taste but nowhere near as bad as I expected. In fact, it was actually on the cusp of destination status, though this unexpectedly high rating may at least in part be because the coffee options around Hastings to date have been fairly dreadful. 7.5/10.
Beards/laptops/MacBooks/pushchairs: 0 as we were the only customers and both members of staff were female and not remotely hirsute.
Loo: No. It’s a really tiny café, eating and tasting area but there is a notice announcing customers of Penbuckles can use the toilets in the Jenny Lind pub opposite. Ah, the joys of a sense of small town community spirit.
Furniture: Slightly matching bistro style chairs, which suit the look of the small-windowed back area of the delicatessen. Only a few chairs and tables, it’s a very small area.
Ambience: Dark, cosy, comfortable … but that was in an otherwise empty room so other customers might seem a little too close/noisy.
Summary: The café is technically the “Wine Store & Tasting Room” and is at the back of the small deli area, which stocks cheeses, fancy jarred produce and bottles of alcohol and condiments, and some rather tempting sausage rolls. There are also a few cakes and a small food menu based around the produce sold, ie great if you love cheese and charcuterie. That was probably the best coffee I’ve had in Hastings (the competition, I reiterate, isn’t at all good generally) so I would go again, but I’m not sure I would drink in if the seating area had more than two others in it, but I’m just an unsociable person at heart so don’t let that put you off! I would probably like it even more in winter as it’s a cosy place. 8/10 but based solely on that day’s experience and subject to unusual variation.