So, as you all know we very much love our coffee. As the nation’s capital, London has a significantly large amount of independent coffee shops and we really do love visiting them for inspiration and generally just to enjoy a good cup of coffee that we haven’t had to make ourselves :)
Here are some of our favourites for the ambience, decor and service. NB; we aren’t specifically focusing on the coffee itself, as one thing that they do seem to all have in common are their roasters and their staff’s abilities. You’ll struggle to find coffee that doesn’t come from either Has Bean, Square Mile or Caravan-all very good roasters with great reputations. All baristas that we’ve come across too in these independents are fully trained and know what they’re doing so we thought we’d focus on the other things that we feel are just as important as the coffee-customer service and the ‘community feel’.
The winner of the World Barista Championships in 2009, Gwilym Davies has created a great and unique experience in Prufrock. The staff were so friendly and of course, knew they’re stuff when we grilled them about machinery and roasting. Food was great too, although not sure Birmingham would be ready for their pricing of a salad any time soon!! We loved the bespoke drum-kit in the window and their use of take away trays and keep-cups as an art installation! We recommend for those who want to talk coffee and/or people watch.
This was a bonus find whilst we were on our wandering mission. Their cakes were the thing that really caught our eyes and we loved their innovative use of brown paper on a roll for a menu! Busy without being chaotic, another place we’d be happy to while away the afternoon (especially in the ‘den’ downstairs!)
A lamb and butternut squash pasta salad really hit the mark. The place itself is so titchy we had no chance of being able to eat in, however this can’t be viewed as a negative-we’re sure it needs to be busy to pay that London rent!! We recommend for anyone who’s in a rush and needs something for the road.
Nude Espresso (Soho Sq)
This one has their own roastery so definitely one to ask for the guest espresso. We tried a Kenyan single estate as an espresso and it was remarkable how much we were hit by strong notes of grapefruit! They don’t have wifi here and whilst we love the sign that said ‘no wifi, talk to a stranger’, we needed wifi so couldn’t hang about for long. We recommend this one for those who are sociable and not needing to work.
Another teeny tiny one, this one is probably the most remarkable in terms of decor. An old victorian toilet underground, they’ve turned the urinals into tables (we promise in a good way!) Staff were really friendly, but not great for groups of you-5 of us swamped the place! They do have a great little bench upstairs with a bell to call for street-level service, so definitely recommend for a sunny day!
This one also has its own roastery and the decor is fantastic. From an old cage locker for the booze to the island bar that means wherever you sit you can watch the staff perform their slick operation up close and personal. We recommend this one for the workers or those who want a bit more of an up-market cafe dining experience.