Veloton, Tetbury in Gloucestershire

August 12, 2013

One of the self-confessed failings of this blog is that I don’t often manage to get out of London. I do try to find places when I can, such as the marvellous Colonna & Smalls in Bath, or the delightful and thoughtfully stocked Thyme & Tides in Stockbridge, but living in London and the frankly ineluctable London-centrism of the third wave coffee scene means that I can’t do much to rectify a fairly annoying bias in where I write about. So when I hear about somewhere out of London that is worth going to, I make an effort to get there and get some coffee down me. And so this weekend I found myself in Tetbury (well, technically, I was visiting a village near Cirencester on a book-retrieval odyssey, but we were able to drop into Tetbury first) to visit Veloton.

The outside of Veloton.

The outside of Veloton.

Veloton was recommended to me by the brilliantly named Hereward, who runs two bookshops in the Cotswolds area that go by the Yellow Lighted Bookshop moniker. These shops are worth visiting the area for alone; they stock interesting and varied selections guided by a genuine bibliophilia that means you can always get exciting and innovative recommendations.

Veloton is a new addition to Tetbury, a bike shop that also does coffee, or a coffee shop that also sells bikes. In fact, Veloton seems to do both very well, though I can’t pretend to know much about cycling.

The space is carefully and aesthetically composed. There is a lot of light, a lot of space, and the bikes are carefully arranged to maximise their visual impact. The spatial overlap between the two offerings is complete, so you can drink your coffee next to a beautiful workbench, backed with tiles, where various complex ministrations happen to chains and cogs and gears. Patrons are encouraged to wander the shop with their coffee, and the upstairs area, which is the main bike show-area, is lovely and worth a look regardless of your interest.

The coffee is from a small, bespoke roastery based in Brighton called Small Batch Coffee Company, and it is handled well. I had a nicely dark and feisty espresso, which had a good crema and came out at the right temperature and consistency. I also had a piccolo, which was smooth and soft and set the espresso off nicely with the creaminess of the milk. It was all nicely presented and I enjoyed sitting back in a comfy wooden chair while the light hubbub of the bicycle shop carried on around me.

Espresso and a book from YLB.

Espresso and a book from YLB.

This is not Look Mum No Hands!, but it’s not Micycle either. That is no judgement on any of the three venues: Veloton sits, I think, nicely in the middle of the three venues as a half-and-half enterprise (I would say the LMNH! is better at and more interested in coffee, but then it’s much larger and more established, and Micycle is somewhere you can drop in and get a decent coffee, but the focus is much more on bikes). But I did enjoy the coffee I had and it is of a very high standard, far better than many stand-alone cafes.

My only minor quibble with Veloton arose from the interaction I had with the owner. I asked, as you do, where the coffee came from. He didn’t seem terribly interested in answering my question: I had to put it to him a couple of times and his manner was a little abrupt. Maybe I’m just used to a different style of things given where I normally drink my coffee, but I’ve always been impressed and, indeed, inspired by the way most café owners will engage with customers, answer questions, and generally radiate interest and enthusiasm.

When writing my most recent review for Caffeine Magazine (it’s not out yet, so no spoilers), the owner of the café I visited made the very well-observed point that nowadays everyone is a journalist of sorts, in that everyone is able to and regularly does ‘review’ the venues they visit, whether it’s as a blogger, on a Facebook post, or simply by word of mouth. The plethora of available venues doing good things means that referrals from friends and family, as well as bloggers who do the foraging for us, are increasingly important as a means of spreading the word of whether places are good, bad, or indifferent. As a blogger, I get asked in person and via social media where I would recommend. I may have suggestions, or I may refer people on to other bloggers who have better knowledge of other parts of the country. The places I recommend are not always places I’ve reviewed either. The point is that everyone’s opinions count and, culturally, we are all now much more comfortable and adept at expressing them widely.

Making the coffees.

Making the coffees.

And so, if I or anyone else goes into a café, or restaurant or bookshop or anywhere else, we should be treated as someone whose opinion will likely be shared and disseminated. I am not for one moment arguing that good customer service should only be predicated on a desire to ensure no-one has something bad to say; good customer service should be a given, always. But, and especially if someone is asking questions about what you do, customers should be treated with respect and their interest met by yours, because you don’t know why they’re asking and you don’t know who will hear the answers.

To return to Veloton, I must therefore say I was disappointed by the attitude of the owner. But this was in marked contrast to another man who worked there and was clearly more on the bike side of things: he was enthusiastic, passionate, and engaged. The coffee was good, the bikes were great, and the area will benefit from having a quality coffee venue. Veloton is new and, I’m sure, these sorts of teething problems will be ironed out. I will return and, I suppose, find out. And I hope you will too.

Veloton, 22 Market Place, Tetbury, GL8 8DD

Website with details

Also on Twitter: @VelotonUK


12 Responses to “Veloton, Tetbury in Gloucestershire”

  1. Ha! I love Tetbury. Will have to check it out next time we’re there.

  2. I shall try to make it over there when I make my long overdue visit to Rave Coffee in Cirencester.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your comments about engagement. I’d say 95% of the places I visit, the owners and baristas are keen to talk to with me, sometimes seeking me out to tell me stuff. So when you get one that doesn’t want to engage, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

    I’m also surprised (and disappointed) when places appear to ignore bloggers/posts about them on social media. I know that retweeting a coffee blogger, or reposting on Facebook, is giving the blogger free publicity, but at the same time, as I’m sure you’ll attest, a lot of time and effort goes into research and writing about a place and offers free publicity for the place in question. So it seems a little mean-spirited when someone writes a great piece about you not to retweet/share it.

    I’ll get off my high horse now 🙂


    • staggeredhermit Says:

      Unsurprisingly, I agree with you. I don’t think it’s high-horsey; we do provide a service which should be reciprocal in a way. Regardless of how much I enjoy going somewhere, and I don’t review places I don’t like, I am giving a certain (even if it’s quite limited) amount of publicity, and it is always nice when people engage during or after the event. The places I’ve visited who have responded well have always had more visits and more recommendations because I think they’ve entered into the spirit of what I’m trying to do and I think that it shows that they care, are interested in what their customers think, and want to participate in the wider coffee community.

  3. CLR Says:

    Great review of Veloton, really interesting blog. I live locally and eager to find a good cup of coffee. Will definitely give it a try! As an Aussie, great coffee in this neck of the woods is hard to find! Lets hope the owner realises he is missing a trick.

    • staggeredhermit Says:

      Thank you for that. I hope he does too, though I’ve heard from someone else who had the same experience as me. If you look at my review of Caracoli you can see my concerns about big fish in small ponds; it may apply here too. Nonetheless, the coffee is good and I recommend it!

  4. CLR Says:

    SO- I thought I would let you know about my recent visit to Veleton. Had been meaning to go for ages, and finally a Sunday morning coffee opportunity arose! Great concept, fab coffee, however the attitude of the owner left a lot to be desired. We tried to engage him in conversation about the business etc and we were barely given one word answers. 4 questions later we decided to give up. I was almost embarrassed for the chap. No customer service skills at all. Really rude and I do not think I will be rushing back. Surely having a basic interest in people and simple conversation skills are essential for any business.
    However- hooray for the coffee. Perhaps a take-away next time!!!

    • staggeredhermit Says:

      Yes, that’s basically what I found and, I have to say, I’ve had a few comments from people on Twitter saying the same. I would never want a business to fall on its face due to anything, but the chap needs to sharpen up.

  5. anon Says:

    Visited Veloton earlier today. I’d never seen it before, but we were passing through Tetbury and stopped off for a morning coffee. Served by a friendly blonde girl, and engaged in conversation by a friendly chap passionate about cycling. Surprised to read about a less than friendly owner – but perhaps the chap I chatted to wasn’t the owner.
    Lovely mocha. I’d definitely go back.

    • afhstewart Says:

      Yes, the cycling guy is brilliant and very keen. I think you must have missed the owner; sadly, I have heard from other people who have met him that my experience was far from unique. Pleased you liked the coffee though. That’s the crucial thing!

  6. SJC Says:

    Have you perhaps considered that the owner did not want to tell you which coffee supplier he used – as it may be made public – as you have done – to all his competitors? Thereby removing his competitive advantage? In my experience of visiting Veloton – they serve great coffee – and they are all extremely helpful with bikes, bike repairs. The cakes are great too

    • afhstewart Says:

      No, and that’s a fairly absurd comment given how coffee shops operate – generally what they serve is displayed because it is part of the attraction. The quality of the coffee you serve is part of your selling point and advertised. Additionally, I was clearly a customer making conversation, and it was not simply that he was opaque in his response, he was actually rude.
      The bike man was lovely, as I said, and I had no issue with him, and I also praised the coffee. I simply think the owner is a rude man. I am not the only person to have experienced this, either.

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