Just off the beaten track in Leicester city centre, down Bowling Green Street, you’ll find The Coffee Counter – a coffee shop with a twist. Open since July 2016, the independent store which sits in the same unit that housed Greek restaurant Babylonia which was run by the family of Ariyan Shakiba, who now owns The Coffee Counter.

Photography by David Wilson Clarke

“Originally we weren’t opening as a cafe. Behind closed doors it was just going to be our roastery, a base where we could supply our equipment and coffee to shops around the country,” explains Ariyan, “But then people were walking past and wanted to come in for coffee. There was so much interest that we very quickly changed our direction and opened as a cafe roastery.”

In the corner of the little coffee shop sits an impressive coffee roasting machine, where Ariyan sits and roasts coffee while guests enjoy the atmosphere. By being more than just a coffee shop, The Coffee Counter offers the vibe that they are truly passionate about great coffee.

Opening a new space for the industrial side of the business in Freemans Park, Ariyan hopes to continue to grow this side of the business.

Photography by David Wilson Clarke

“I think one of the big problems is that people don’t actually realise that we’re a wholesale supplier – that is what we do first and foremost. The new unit gives us much more space to work with for roasting and showcasing machines, and it also has a downstairs training room with at least four coffee machines where we will have all of the accreditation to train people domestically and for wholesale.

“We’re like a one stop shop for wholesale. We distribute everything from syrups to cups. It just doesn’t look like it because we look so much like a coffee shop too,” explains Ariyan.

The Coffee Counter source, roast and supply coffee not just for their own coffee shop but supply to coffee shops all over the Midlands, but particularly in Leicester. Ariyan himself roasts coffee at least three days a week and this side of the business is growing constantly.

Constantly innovative and different, The Coffee Counter also stand out with their venture into nitro cold brew coffee. This cold-brew coffee is infused with nitrogen gas released through a pressurised valve with tiny holes. As high pressure forces the cold coffee to cascade out with a creamy, stout-like effect. This creates a silky cold coffee which tastes almost more like a dark-chocolate ice cream than a black coffee and is destined to be popular during the warmer months in the city.

Photography by David Wilson Clarke

For any coffee nerd, you can instantly tell that Ariyan and the staff know what they’re talking about. With a range of specialist coffees from the nitro cold brew to their famous cortados The Coffee Counter is a place you really feel you can come and experience great coffee in good hands.

With an impressive food menu, the cafe is also home to some of Leicester’s first smoothie bowls and some delicious jam-packed sandwiches all sourced from local ingredients. With options for a range of dietary requirements.

The Shoreditch-vibe of the roastery cafe has transferred unexpectedly well to this little side street in Leicester city-centre. Whether you’re coffee obsessed or just looking for somewhere with a friendly vibe that offers something different – The Coffee Counter is the place to be.

The Coffee Counter is at 23 Bowling Green, off Belvoir Street.

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Alice is a 21 year old film and journalism student from Leicester. Interests include film, trashy 00s TV and drinking buckets of coffee.

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