No strangers to running coffee shops, Paul and Aimee Tilleyhad to renovate every square inch of Dr Brews to turn it from a gift shop into a coffee shop. But this title almost doesn’t do it justice, as Dr Brews is so much more than a coffee shop. The eclectic design, décor and background music gives a little insight into the couples’ personalities, their punk backgrounds and love of anything different and alternative. Now licenced and open late on Friday & Saturday evenings, Dr Brews is a place where you immediately feel at home and have to drag yourself away from the laid-back vibes when its time to leave.
Where is it?
Toward the top of Crag Brow in the bustling tourist town of Bowness-on-Windermere close to the fabulous independent Royalty Cinema with its art-deco ambience and rare Wurlitzer Organ.
How long has it been there?
Dr Brews first opened its doors on the 24thof January 2019.
Who’s in charge?
Dr Brews is owned by husband and wife team Paul and Aimee Tilley. The couple previously owned and ran two coffee shops in Edinburgh before moving to the Lake District in 2014. They do most of the day-to-day running of Dr Brews themselves but have one great Saturday member of staff, Edan, as well as their three daughters, Flo, Maisy, and Isla, who also help out.
What’s the vibe?
As far from the typical Lakeland tearoom or traditional coffee shop as you can imagine. Think comfortable industrial. There’s plenty of copper with vintage industrial cogwheel pendant lights straight out of a workshop (or a HG Wells film!) mixed with rich leather bench seats and armchairs with a splash of cowhide here and there. It’s bold and it’s edgy, but it works. The impressive resin counter is a true one-off as it was single-handedly moulded and poured by owner, Paul to create a unique stand out feature. The walls are in deep bold reds and navy with a good selection of hot and cold drinks and brunches, lunches and light bites showcased on a large blackboard. The copper theme continues outside where the tables and chairs (undercover in case it ever rains in the Lakes!) all complement the counter.
Who goes there?
According to their menus, Dr Brews is ‘your new favourite coffee shop’and you’d be hard pushed to argue. It hit Tripadvisor’s number one spot for places to eat in the town after just six months of opening and has held onto it ever since. It’s hugely popular with tourists and people passing through on day trips who inevitably end up disappointed that they’re not staying longer. Men like the masculine, industrial feel and background blues music with the odd bit of northern soul and punk thrown in, and women like the comfy seats, proper coffee and quirky toilets. Once you discover Dr Brews, you’ll be back time and time again.
What’s the food like?
The menu centres around fresh, homemade soups and gourmet sandwiches stuffed full of locally sourced produce like cooked meats, bacon and cheeses from Lakes Speciality Foodsand the Cheese Larder. Breads take the form of sourdough and focaccias and are freshly baked each day by the award-winning Lovingly Artisanand Staff of Life bakeries just a few miles up the road. Oh and there’s cakes, lots of delicious homebaked cakes, “as big as your head” made by owner, Aimee!
What cake should we order?
The million-dollar question! Well, there’s “THOSE” brownies as they are now affectionately referred to, their signature carrot cake and the ever-popular lemon drizzle and apple & cinnamon cakes take a lot of beating. But our personal favourite has got to be the banana loaf, especially if you time it right and it has just come straight out of the oven. Heavenly!
And washed down with..?
After our own hearts, these guys know their coffee so it’s much more than a standard latte and cappuccino coffee menu. Choose from a sweet velvety chocolate flat white, a silky dinky piccolo, a rich mocha, a fruity espresso, or a classic batch brew filter… all expertly roasted by Carvetii of course! The flat white is typically their bestseller. Away from coffee, the silky smooth Belgian hot chocolates and loose-leaf teas come a close second.
Why Carvetii Coffee?
Aimee and Paul had a great relationship with their coffee roaster in Edinburgh so knew how crucial it was to find someone local to the Lakes they could work with when they were opening Dr Brews. Working with local suppliers who care passionately about their products is hugely important to them and after visiting Carvetii’s roastery and meeting Gareth, they knew they had found someone who shared their ethos… and their love of coffee!
What do people say about Dr Brews?
They’re number one in Bowness-on-Windermere on Tripadvisor so its all good. Well, in fact its not all good, it’s excellent! A whopping 98% of their reviews are 5-star ‘excellent’. The generous portions of cake, excellent coffees, proper Belgian hot chocolates, and friendly welcoming service genuinely blow people away. What’s not to like?
What should people do in Bowness-on-Windermere?
Any interesting facts about Dr Brews?
While most people think the ‘doctor’ in Dr Brews relates to Paul, it’s actually Aimee who has the doctorate. Before the career change, she worked as a molecular biologist and specialised in the epidemiology of tropical diseases for her PhD. Now she focuses mostly on the science of coffee and the only tropical link to Dr Brews can be found in the customer toilets!
As one of the Lake District’s most popular tourist towns, there’s no shortage of things to do and places to visit. A boat or steamer trip on Windermere, England’s longest lake, is a must as is a visit to the town’s newest visitor attraction, The Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories, which brings to life the engineering work and tradition of industry around the Lake District.
Before becoming a coffee shop, Dr Brews was a gift shop and had to be completely stripped back, renovated, and refitted from head to toe. It is also now licenced serving a good selection of craft bottled beers, gins, wines and prosecco and opens late on Friday and Saturday evenings.
What Dr Brews say about us…
Where to start…! Gareth and Angharad have been instrumental in helping to establish our business. They are more than just a supplier. They are always available to help and advise on all aspects of running a coffee shop and they really care about the businesses they supply. They also have an amazing team behind them who care as much about the business as they do, and who regularly pop in to see how we’re getting on. All in all they’re just really great people to work with and of course it helps that their product is excellent too.
What customers say about Dr Brews…
“We were so lucky. We just wandered into town from the car park by the lake. Normally we read Tripadvisor reviews first, but we just took a chance with this. Wow! Did we hit the bullseye. This place checks every box.”
Best hot chocolate and coffee for MANY MANY miles
“What a wonderful place to relax and enjoy freshly made coffee and hot chocolate with sandwiches using local produce and owner-made heavenly cakes! We loved the quirky and pristinely decorated seating area.”
“Fabulous all round: coffee is awesome, bacon rolls fit for a King, perfect decor & atmospheric music. The 5* experience completed by the most delightful service by the friendly bearded owner himself. Will return – hopefully soon – for cake ‘as big as your head’!”
“It was late. It was raining. The comfy armchairs peering from the window, beckoned me. I was hooked. The man on the PA played blues. The green tea arrived loose leaved. It gets no better than that. I watched a few damp tourists drip by. Little did they know: I had the best seat in the town. Would I come again? It will be the first place I go to.”
“The warm welcome, great coffee and the best lemon drizzle cake in the world! Wish I could teleport here daily from Sydney! We had great service and the best experience.”
“Dr Brews & Blues Coffee Shop is an awesome find and not just for the super coffee and fantastic, bigger than you’d believe, homemade cakes. The owner has designed the space to be as accessible as possible and built in access from the initial moment they conceived of the idea. So, a ramp through a wide door, lots of room to manoeuvre in the cafe, a beautiful accessible toilet with a baby changing table and some of the best/funniest toilet blues tunes you could imagine!”
Dr Brewsis open from 10am-4.30pm Monday-Thursday and 10am-10pm on Friday & Saturday.
Dr Brews Coffee, 3 Grosvenor Terrace, Bowness on Windermere, Cumbria. LA23 3BS. 07799 388998.
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