When the five-year-old discovered that there was a place in Bury St Edmunds that specialises in both bubble tea and cookies, I knew there was no way we’d have been allowed to head into town without visiting. Up on St Johns Street, almost opposite now-viral fried chicken shop Peck, you’ll find the BSE branch of Cookie Barista. Owner Ben combined two of his passions to open his original Ipswich shop post-lockdown and quickly realised that there was a market in Bury St Edmunds too. He opened the Bury venue in March 2023, and it certainly seems to be a popular place.
The relatively plain exterior of Cookie Barista gives no real indication of the fun you can expect when you walk through the door. Almost floor-to-ceiling KENJI plushies adorn the wall to the right of the door, while right in front of you you’ll find all sorts of additional merch: KENJI stationery, washi tape and badges; bubble tea keyrings; and everything you need to make your own bubble tea at home, from individual ingredients to entire bubble tea kits, which would make amazing gifts for bubble tea lovers.
Directly ahead of the door, the brightly lit counter tempts you with trays of freshly baked cookies. At £3.50 each some may find the price a little steep but they’re enormous, thick, moist and decadent and well worth every penny.
I genuinely have no idea how Cookie Barista is able to offer such an enormous range of drinks, either. There are the bubble teas – not only the classic milk and fruit flavours, but also exciting specials (banana bread milk tea or mango & lychee smoothie fruit tea, anyone?) There are regular hot drinks, like you’d find in any decent coffee shop. There are also seasonal drinks which, at this time of year, include a Black Forest hot chocolate, a toffee crunch latte and a caramel chai latte.
While we waited for our drinks to be made we took a seat in the small indoor seating area: clean and minimalist in its design. The artwork on the walls (which is available to buy) is absolutely amazing – who knew all these famous characters loved bubble tea so much! 😉
My 500ml taro milk tea (£4.50) had fewer tapioca pearls than in other bubble tea places I’ve visited but they were perfectly chewy and delicious. While both the colour and the flavour of the taro was a little understated, it tasted good. The 500ml classic milk tea (also £4.50) was proclaimed to be delicious and refreshing, but the real star of the show on the day was the child’s 500ml strawberry cheesecake milk tea (£4.90). We ordered it without tea (caffeine + this child = never a good idea) and it was almost milkshake-like: squirty cream and biscuit crumbs on top of a bright pink strawberry milk whose delicate taste was punctuated by the strength of flavour of the strawberry popping bubbles.
Drinks drunk, our final task was to make use of the big bucket of pens on one of the tables. Many bubble tea joints offer post-it notes for customers to create their own artwork to stick up on the wall…but at Cookie Barista they’ve turned this into a monthly art competition. Create your masterpiece on one of the pieces of paper provided, write your details on the back and pin your creation to the dedicated wall – once a month they’ll pick a winner.
With student discounts, regularly changing menus and delivery via Just Eat and Deliveroo, there’s plenty more on offer from Cookie Barista. I’m looking forward to heading back and trying more of the menu.