Review: Jumping Bean Cafe, Neville Street, Durham

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The cobbled streets of Durham are not short on cafes.

Tourists, day trippers, students, visiting parents and the general populace all provide ready custom.

Durham cafes tend to fall into two categories: the twee and the chain.

Thankfully there are a few select, independent establishments which cater to the more discerning consumer of caffeine and light bites.

The Jumping Bean is in this seam. It first opened a few years ago on Neville Street, a quiet lane jutting upwards from North Road.

After rumours of it moving, and a period of closure over the summer, the cafe has now reopened under the stewardship of two young sisters.

The building has been refurbished inside and out, giving it a more airy feel – but still retaining its shabby chic charm.

Old school chairs and tables are laid out in a cosy fashion, and while the time for al fresco dining is coming to a close for the season, there is a small decked area to the front if you wish to sit outside.

The menu is fully vegetarian and vegan, but you don’t feel like you’re getting beaten about the head with herbivorous propaganda or health food dogma.

Unknowingly I arrived on the cafe’s reopening weekend, with the new team managing to maintain a friendly facade while no doubt panicking inside.

I ordered a sweet potato pakora wrap for £3.95, and agreed to the £1 extra charge for salad and crisps. Both proved good value for money as the crammed, hearty and wholesome wrap had a good helping of salad and a generous pile of quality crisps – as well as a selection of bottles containing oil, vinegar and dressing.

I was offered a range of milks for my accompanying coffee, and chose oat. While I felt a smidgen of self-loathing sat drinking my oat milk flat white, it was undoubtedly a good brew , made from beans provided by Ouseburn Coffee Co.

The Jumping Bean also has a range of interesting teas, freshly-made juices and other drinks, and I was drawn in by the carrot, orange and ginger juice. I ordered a glass (£3) with a piece of vegan chocolate cake (£2.95), realising I’d got my drinks and courses a bit out of synch.

I was expecting a watery concoction, but it arrived frothy and almost like a milkshake – a lot more pleasing than it may sound to those aghast at the thought of drinking vegetables.

I’m not usually a fan of chocolate cake. I like chocolate and I like cake, but a combination of the two is often disappointing. However, this one was a cut above.

Vaguely reminiscent of the hot chocolate fudge cake which was ubiquitous in my youth in the 1980s – moist, flavoursome and pleasingly substantial.

Overall I found the Jumping Bean provides quality food and drink at reasonable prices, with a relaxing and friendly atmosphere.

The new team seem great and I’m looking forward to calling back in to see how they move it forward.