since the coffee shop boom of the 1990s, the market for the perfect cup has been growing and growing.
Aside from the seemingly ubiquitous branches of the major chains, there have also been a surge of independent coffee shops.
One such contender is the aptly named Laynes Espresso.
Despite being on one of the city centre’s busiest thoroughfares en route to the station, blink and you could miss this place.
And though it styles itself as a coffee mecca, we were there to give Laynes a whirl as a lunchtime option.
On entering, there’s a wide glass-fronted counter which houses all manner of tempting sweet treats.
And however much I wanted two courses of cake for lunch, the voice of reason told me that I really ought to have something savoury first.
Luckily, Laynes offers a small but enticing lunch selection. There were two varieties of freshly made sandwiches on the counter, both bursting at the seams with filling. One was pastrami-based while the other featured goats cheese – which my lunch date opted for.
Meanwhile I went for a choice from the short menu, Welsh rarebit with ale.
After we took our seats on one of the high tables with stools – which look good but can be a bit tricky for those who aren’t all that tall – we could see the staff preparing my rarebit.
There was a brief wait while it toasted, before both sandwiches were brought over.
My rarebit was a good example of the dish. The ale added a darker colour and an intensity to the strong cheddar flavour, while a few plain salad leaves on the side helped to cut through the richness.
My companion’s goats cheese sandwich, which was grilled, was crammed full of so much rich, creamy cheese that there must have been an entire herd of goats somewhere feeling physically drained.
There were hints of the sweet plum chutney, although he said it could have done with a little more to provide real balance, and there was barely a whiff of the pumpkin promised on the menu.
He had no such problem detecting the whopping chunks of ginger in the slab of sticky ginger cake. It was a treat combining buzz-inducing amounts of sugary sweetness with pleasant hits of spiciness and he would have happily have demolished a second piece.
The cake was actually his second choice, as I pulled rank to get first refusal on the salted caramel brownie.
It looked mouthwatering and didn’t disappoint, the squidgy, rich brownie languishing under swirls of caramel sauce and a sprinkling of salt crystals.
All in all, a satisfying lunch, with the cakes undoubtedly the stars of the show – though special mention must also go to the hot chocolate I tried which was dark, nutty and not overly sweet.
Our lunch, with crisps and two soft drinks, came to £14.40, though the cakes and hot drink added another £7.50.
Laynes may be small in size and in its range of food, but what this coffee house does, it does very well.