Shining a light on Beacon Coffee, Falmouth

By Eliot Powe |

The eclectic town of Falmouth played host to a sharp winter’s pinch on this particular Thursday afternoon, nearing the end of November. Beacon Coffee shop, located at the upper-end of Falmouth High Street, saved me from the cramping cold of the outside world.

It’s easy to pass by Beacon Coffee but this is a space you don’t want to miss within Falmouth Town. 

As I opened the door I noticed how deceptively spacious this coffee house is. Turning to the counter, a detail I found myself really appreciating was the use of raw wood for the furniture and the counter in which Sam Kaye and Alex May, the business owners and sole operators, could be spotted. 

Naturally, your eye is attracted to the glowing orange trim of light emanating from the service area; quickly drawing you over. I decided beforehand I would order three drinks. Two of which, I had heard a rumour, were served at Beacon Coffee on an ask-for basis. This, admittedly, was greatly intriguing to me.

I found a seat that made use of the bay windows whilst waiting for my order to arrive; two stylish and abstract mini tables divided the window area into enough space for three. After taking off my coat where I sat, I gave myself a moment to soak in the atmosphere.

“It is very much our own creation”

Alex May – Beacon Coffee, Falmouth

The space I saw before me was a clean and inviting minimalist environment, where hours of the day could easily slip by. Confidently held together with carefully considered lighting and fresh green houseplants, the space provides a calming serenity.

Alex later explained: “it is very much our own creation, but we found ourselves drawing a lot of inspiration from Australian coffee shops; amongst other spaces away from coffee shops” – I could completely see what he meant.

The light cream walls appeared cappuccino in colour as the warm ceiling spotlights bounced off the structural beams. A real art-house vibe was present.

Although no singular demographic of person was prevalent within the shop, I noticed customers would come up to the counter and place orders with friendly familiarity. An arty young couple sat in one of the cubby-holes that looked like it could’ve been a wide fireplace in another life; both looked calm and cheerful as they talked and typed away.

“Something exciting and different” | Eliot Powe

Adjacent to the counter I noticed an elderly man in his mid-70s sitting alone, smiling, as he appeared to listen to the Gorillaz song ‘Clint Eastwood’. Who or what was playing didn’t seem to matter as he, like everyone else, appeared to be simply enjoying the sight of the world pass through the crafted lens of the coffee house.

I spotted a lady sitting at the very back of the floor, with a pushchair by her side, and a coffee on the table. The lady introduced herself as Fern with a warm smile, and seemed equally caught in the early-evening ambience of the environment:

“I have found myself coming here most days since I am on maternity leave. I think it’s the fact Sam and Alex are great guys and we always have nice chats; I think their knowledge and their changing of the coffee so regularly is something quite exciting and different.

“I do enjoy how at different times of day it would seem different people come in, from the elderly customers in the morning, to the students who have started coming in now the term has started again. It’s great to see.”

Firstly, I ordered a normal single shot Espresso. The espresso arrived promptly and came in a sleek and stylish black espresso mug and saucer, with a white saucer rim and mug interior.

This particular coffee, a Honduran bean roasted by Campbell & Syme, really did stay true to the tasting notes described on the display board as ‘fruity & tangy’ as it hit my tongue with exactly that, before settling in with a rich and bitter aftertaste that lingered in the palette.

Personally I am not the greatest fan of bitter aftertastes that linger, but I could appreciate the accuracy of the tasting notes Beacon provided.

The second drink I found myself ordering was the first of, shall we say, the secret drinks. An Espresso Tonic. 

An Espresso Tonic | Eliot Powe

The espresso tonic arrived in a sturdy, stylish glass tumbler with an unexpected, yet eloquently charming dried orange garnish; I noticed its appearance to be different to what I had tried before. This drink was rich in the recognisable brown tones of coffee, yet upheld an appearance closer to an iced coffee.

Unlike an iced coffee, this drink utilises tonic water and a single shot of the same espresso variety I had drunk beforehand. Immediately your mouth is blessed with a cold refreshing sensation of small bubbles – quite honestly – I had to take another sip, as I had truly never experienced a drink to take my taste buds on an emotional roller coaster like this one!

Yet as I sipped the drink a second time around, I found that once again the journey of flavour was the same.

The flavour of tonic acted as an introduction to the rest of the flavours found in the espresso shot itself; where the espresso on its own had an immediately fruity tang, the espresso with the tonic worked to compliment the tones of citrus that were prominent in this particular coffee. 

The third drink, an Espresso Sours, uses a Nicaraguan washed coffee bean produced by the company Brewed, that brags ‘blood orange or milk chocolate & fudge’ tasting notes dependent on whether you have it with milk or without. 

This drink was my favourite of the three. It was fresh like the espresso tonic, but without the bubbles. In its place, was the flavour of sour fresh lemon.

The first sip had the sensation of twanging those taste buds that seem to only show themselves upon introduction of something too sour, but after the initial surprise, I found that the proceeding sips were comforting, and far less-sharp than the first.

This particular drink had an immensely fresh aftertaste that lasted the perfect duration of time.

“The most important thing is to make good coffee, and be kind and genuine to people.”

Sam Kaye – Beacon Coffee, Falmouth

After tasting three vastly different yet enjoyable pallets of flavour, in a beautiful environment, I decided to ask Sam why he felt as an owner Beacon Coffee was proving to be so successful.

“You always hope to create a community around the shop, and we hope to have done that here,” said Sam, “yet I don’t think it is something to force. It typically happens quite organically. The most important thing is to make good coffee, and be kind and genuine to people.

“Hopefully, off the back of that people feel comfortable to create their own community, we act as the hosts, but I wouldn’t say we are the lynchpins of that community! We remain more on the periphery.”