I have to admit I get a bit lazy on weekends, tending to walk to get my coffee, rather than go out and venture beyond zone one to explore. Hence, my ever growing list of places to go and visit to try their coffee. Fortunately I had a brunch invitation one weekend and suggested we meet at a place sitting on my list for probably the last year and a half, Ginger and White.
Sure, it’s located in the rather posh Hampstead area so I already had fairly high expectations, though it’s located down a narrow alleyway and isn’t a very large shop. The Sunday we went ended up being rather wet and since the cafe opened so early, we were lucky to get a table under one of the awnings outside. At least it wasn’t too cold.
Ginger and White is definitely more cafe than restaurant. Apparently they don’t really have an extensive kitchen which is why their brunch menu focused on sandwiches, cakes and pastries and not very much hot food at all. Fortunately their coffee is good, once again a great place supplied by the wonderful Square Mile Roasters.
Drinking two flat whites (pictured above) was just too easy. Feeling like I wanted something a bit more warming than a heated croissant, I opted for the unusual soldiers and toast. I say unusual because it’s not something many places offer, probably because it is so ordinary, yet I thought it’d be quite appropriate.
What arrived what two eggs, one of them covered in a cosy knitted egg cosy and nicely toasted granary bread fingers to dip them in. I felt very British and it felt strangely appropriate given the inclement weather. While service wans’t the most efficient when we wanted the bill, I found it refreshing to be in such a popular place without feeling rushed or pressured to leave. I’d like to see what it’s like during the week, when you can avoid the manic weekend crowds.
Name: Ginger and White
Found at: 4a-5a Perrin’s Court, Hampstead, London NW3 1QS
The latest edition of coffee shops to spring up, Look Mum No Hands, is a welcome addition to the east end of London. Based on the combination of a bike store and a coffee shop, they have the space to offer a great experience for both your bike and also for you. Unlike many other places around London, this cafe-bike store combination isn’t really hindered by space. They’ve even expanded to a small outdoor area where you can nibble on your pastries, muffins or sandwiches outside.
Inside there are also just as many tables to sit at, and a counter top where you can enjoy the coffee or other foods they make on the premises perusing through the many cycling magazines scattered around. They apparently have plenty of events as well all, of course, centred around a cycling theme.
Better yet, they also do a mean coffee although the latte art isn’t anything to be proud of (below). For a measly £2.10, you can get a nice flat white to have in. They use Square Mile so you’re generally assured a pretty good cuppa assuming a decent barista is around.
Name: Look mum no hands!
Found at: 49 Old Street, EC1V 9HX
One of the greatest downsides to travelling around England is the small chance of finding boutique coffee stores that know what they’re doing instead of overpacking, burning or simply using instant (ugh!) coffee. Sure, you have the chains but I’m always happy to give these more local stores a go. Doing a bit of research before heading to Liverpool, I had a small list of places that I wanted to try, and Bold Street Coffee seemed to be getting some good reviews. I figured if their coffee was as good as some of the photos on their site, then I was going to have a decent chance for a good cuppa.
It’s easy to walk past their store front because Bold Street seems to be one of those busy streets around Liverpool with lots of pedestrian traffic and with lots of glass frontage, easy to miss their signage when looking past it. Late (3pm) on a Saturday, the place wasn’t as full as it was when I returned during the week so I could enjoy a macchiato whilst seated.
I can’t remember how much the macchiato was, but I returned later (a good indicator) to have their flat white (a very reasonable £2.10) served in, I think, those lovely veg-biodegradable cups. Being a local cafe, it was nice to see them promote lots of the local events as well with stacks of flyers conveniently stacked on the bench used for patrons waiting for their take out coffees.
And, of course, most importantly the coffee was top notch – the best I had in Liverpool and would highly recommend people go here. Definitely adding to my list for when I return.
Name: Bold Street Coffee
Found at: 89 Bold Street, Liverpool, L1 4HF, United Kingdom
This one has been on my list for a while, and so the last time I was hanging around Covent Garden on a Sunday, decided to head out this way. As tempted as I was to drop into a number of other coffee stores, I thought it was about time I tried a different one. As you can tell from the picture below, the sun was shining strong the day I went in, and it surprised me that no one was sitting on the small table outside although most of the lounge and tables were pretty busy.
I’m guessing they offer free wi-fi based on the number of laptops out as well.
The important part? I was slightly worried when I saw the mammoth sized cups along the wall. Fortunately they only offer the flat white in the smaller cup. I want my coffee with a dash of milk, not coffee-flavoured milk, thank you very much. Next to the coffee counter sat a fridge, reminding me of the coffee chains offering grab and go sandwiches or a smaller handful of heat them up on the spot. I guess it’s nice to have options for a hot lunch although I think it’s better to make them fresh.
The verdict? Pretty good. They use Union roasted beans so that’s a pretty good start. There wasn’t too much milk and it was heated to the right sort of temperature. I think I paid £2.30 for this. A decent option although it has some very strong competition in its neighbourhood.
Name: L.J. Coffee House
Found at: 3 Winnett Street, W1D 6JY, London, UK
Although I didn’t come here specifically for the coffee, I do have to rate it fairly highly for using Monmouth beans and for well trained baristas who know how to make a mean flat white. I first tried this place out for breakfast one morning, noting that it was open from 7:30am for breakfast during the week (convenient since my client is almost opposite the building). A wonderful place to keep in mind is that it’s also open on weekends from 8:30am for brunch!
Timeout listed this as a great cheap eat and I’d definitely have to second that motion for providing fantastic food in a buzzing atmosphere. Their interior is designed for a number of communal benches and an order-at-the-front style although the modern dining and large glass walls help keep the place feeling modern and comfortable. I liked the fact that it seemed like a trust based system – a customer buys a bowl of porridge and they go over to a separate place to help themselves to the porridge and appropriate toppings. Very inviting indeed.
Thinking I was taking my team out for breakfast one morning, I thought I’d test it out that day. Considering that, at the time of this writing, their eggs benedict (for 2!) was only £6.85, I really started asking myself what was wrong with that.
As you can see above, not very much, although this variant was done with bacon more so than ham (something I definitely prefer anyway). The toasted muffin was light and crisp and eggs perfectly poached with plenty of runny yolk. Fantastic value and something that, I’m happy to report, several of my team members also enjoyed when we returned here the following week. They also do a mean lunch for pretty decent value but it’s bustling all the time so I’d recommend going early.
Name: The Table Cafe
Found at: 83 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0HX
This first visit was the 8 April, 2010
This cafe is literally hidden above all of Covent Garden, located on the fourth floor of the Snow & Rock outdoor store down a side street off the 7 dials. It’s run by Kiwi people so by default they serve the classic flat white – and a great serve at that. The interior is spacious with a number of tables and a set of benches at the front looking out at the skyline. You’re so high up that you can’t really see down on to street although you can see the sky surrounding the top of the other building.
Being a little bit more than just a coffee store, this cafe also serves lunch foods like simple sandwiches, paninis and many cakes and pastries to accompany the coffee you have. They even have a jug of tap water they keep full so you never find yourself thirsty for anything.
The good thing about this cafe, unlike a number of other coffee stores around London is that its opening hours are that of the store it sits in, so it’s open on Sundays as well as Saturdays. Many good coffee places seem to shut down on this day of rest.
It’s got a quiet atmosphere and is a great cafe if you need to get any work done. Highly recommended.
I’d read about this tiny coffee place a long time ago but since it only opens during the working week, has been impossible to trial whilst commuting for work. With a couple of days in the office, I thought it was a good time to visit. My goal was to get here early so I could sit down and do some work. Whilst they have seating, it’s definitely not suited for working with a laptop with small wooden benches lining the interior walls. If you’ve every been to Dose, the Espresso Room is even smaller stil (if that’s possible). Given the little space that exists, I have to admit they impressed me with what they made of little space.
When I stepped inside, two friendly females greeted me. Like many great cafes these days, they do all the standard espresso based drinks including the wonderful antipodean-inspired flat whites. Whether it was the sunny weather or just what they’re like the baristas like they were very chatty, talking about what books they were reading (apparently The Alchemist is a good one!) and all other sorts of topics.
The important part about any coffee shop is the coffee and this one hits the mark fine. Perfectly creamy milk and a mean tasting espresso vanished far too quickly that I was thinking perhaps staying around for a second wouldn’t have been such a bad idea.
It’d be great if it was open during the weekend but I’m guessing they have plenty of business opening opposite a hospital.
Name: The Espresso Room
Found at: 31-35 Great Ormond Street
Hooray. There were many good things about London this weekend other than the crisp weather complete with sunny blue skies. The great thing to celebrate is that another great coffee shop has been added to central London.
Run by some other antipodeans (I think this one is Kiwi owned), Kaffeine is one of the better places located on the north side of Oxford Street away from Regent Street. Tall ceilings welcome caffeine-junkies into a light and cleanly decorated room complete with some high table chairs and some more relaxed lounge style in the back.
Other than coffee, this place also offers home made cakes and muffins, and salads, sandwiches and hot foccacia rolls to accompany the coffee. Things are a bit more on the pricier side for coffees and sandwiches, but it’s still a decent choice if you need a fix.
Found at: 66 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7QJ
Yet another day, and the discovery of yet another great coffee place. Unfortunately it sits in a place where I don’t really get to go that often, and plenty of other decent coffee stores surround it. Nevertheless that didn’t really stop me from trialling Nude Espresso. I noted this place down the last time that I went along for Brick Lane’s Sunday (Up)Market, though I’d already had my coffee for the day from Taylor St Barista’s, located closer to Liverpool Street Station.
Nude Espresso is pretty hard to miss with its bright red paint declaring its presence. Much like many other decent coffee stores around London, they have a couple of benches outside that would be nice if the weather stayed as nice as it was a couple of weeks back. Fortunately this store seems to have quite a lot of seating, since it stretches pretty deeply with plenty of table and chairs to accommodate groups of many sizes.
I only really wanted to get a coffee, so I ordered the flat white (£2.20) though they of course serve all the classic drinks. I noted a few people simply sitting having a cup of coffee and reading a magazine and newspaper. The insides did look pretty inviting. Unfortunately I’d just had lunch so wasn’t feeling hungry at all despite the wide variety of sandwiches and pastries did look very tempting as you can see from the photo below.
The verdict. Very good. I asked where they got their beans from and they told me it was the espresso blend from Monmouth (it really could have only been one of two answers). The flat white was creamy, strong and certainly kept me going as I continued my walk around the area. I’m well chuffed to have found yet another great place to recommend to people. My only dilemma now though is which one I’d recommend now that there is a handful of decent ones in that area. Nevertheless this is a very good problem to have.
Name: Nude Espresso
Address: 26 Hanbury St, Spitalfields London E1 6QR
In my last post, I eluded to visiting another good coffee store. I was fortunate enough to work out of our main office instead of client site for a day. I had stumbled across Wild & Wood on a Sunday and noticing how new it was and a big sign that says “We serve Monmouth Coffee!) Colleagues in the office confirmed rumours that Monmouth had put up their prices, so that made it easy for me to think about trying somewhere new. I mean, fresh organic Jersey milk and the same Monmouth beans had to have some potential right?
The cafe is best described as wide but shallow. A table by the window tempts you with some wicked looking cakes, biscuits and pastries while a whole pile of sandwiches and baguettes called out to be bought. I was a little surprised when I entered because they don’t have the counter that most places have, and so it feels like you’re confronted by the two attendants there. Of course, they were helpful and friendly so it wasn’t really a big deal. Just a bit surprising instead.
Like most serious coffee stores these days, Wild and Wood serve a decent flat white, though they only charge a measly £1.90 for it. I feel a little bit traitorous to Monmouth because I would definitely go back if I had another day near the office. It was really that good.
Name: Wild & Wood
Address: 1 New Oxford Street London WC1A 1BA
Website: None that I could find