The last couple of weeks have been exciting as I’ve finally managed to visit two more coffee stores both serving fantastic coffee. Since I commute a long distance for my current client, I’ve only had the weekend to check out the newest coffee store closest to me, Dose Espresso (recommended by Bea). It’s location is a huge bonus, and only if I didn’t have to leave so early for work would it make it my daily choice for a cup o’ joe.
Dose Espresso is literally located right opposite Smithfields Market closest to the Barbican Centre. It’s not huge inside, though they’ve done plenty to maximise the space with sitting benches right along the walls and small coffee tables that make the place comforting without seeming cluttered. They’re the only coffee store that I know that uses butcher’s paper at the back as a scrolling wall of the specials for the day, and a magnetised wall complete with bright magnetic letters for their normal menu.
With cakes made by Bea and a decent variety of sandwiches and ciabatta’s, Dose is also a great place to stop by to grab lunch on the run. Being anti-podean run also means that they serve flat white coffees, and they confirmed they also can do coffee with soy milk for those with lactose intolerance. Most importantly the coffee is strong, great tasting and definitely worth visiting if you happen to be in the area.
Name: Dose Espresso
Located at: 69 Long Lane, London, EC1A 9EJ
I stumbled across this little cafe on the way to Oxford Circus and noted that it looked like a great place to stop in. Actually, I stumbled across their Food and Wine bar on Lexington Street and was drawn in with their legs of cured meats hanging in the window. What a weird place to find something like this, yet I couldn’t help but be drawn in like a fly to see what it was all about.
I asked if they did coffee and mentioned that they did around the corner at their other shop on Beak Street. I had time to drop in, so thought, why not? As I stood there, waiting for a takeaway latte (notably more expensive than Monmouth at £2.50) I heard other Australians and New Zealand accents around me. I’ll admit it took them a while to make one so I had a little bit of time to look at their very tempting ciabattas and paninis. When I did finally get the coffee, it was delicious and perfect for that weekend coffee. Definitely highly recommended although it’s a shame all the good coffee stores seem to be packaged around the same area, and not spread out more around London!
I heard about this small cafe from one of Time Out’s suggestions. It’s tucked away in a small pedestrian alleyway just behind where Roka is. My main reason for visiting this cafe was the coffee, although after hitting a big session at the gym, I thought I’d also test out their brunch menu, particularly since there’s not really enough places around that do it well.
In terms of coffee, they offer all the typical offerings although I went for the Flat White since it was on offer, a perfectly dark colour, creamy enough to tantalise the palette without overwhelming the taste buds. Bonus points to them for also automatically serving up a glass of tap water with it – something many other cafes and brunch places fail to do.
For my brunch, I went for something I wouldn’t normally get: Corn Fritters with a poached egg, oven roasted tomatoes, rocket and lime aioli (£8.50). Plenty of other dishes really appealed to me and I’d definitely think about returning although I think it might be a bit nicer in the spring or summer where you can dine at their al fresco tables just not practical in the wintery winds. I wasn’t quite sure what to think of the corn fritters although I did enjoy it all. The lime aioli brought a welcome sharpness of the peppery rocket, though the combination of the poached egg and over roasted tomatoes seemed to turn the dish slightly too soggy for my liking.
Found at: 13 Charlotte Place Fitzrovia London W1T 1SN
The Good: Thumbs up to awesome coffee, friendly service and an appetising variety of pastries and takeaway foods. Go there!
The Bad: They don’t really have that many tables to sit at. I can’t wait to return in spring though I’m sure I’ll drop in way before then!
Things are certainly looking positive for the London coffee scene, with the Taylor St Baristas store near outside Liverpool Street a worthy addition. It almost makes me want to work on a project for a bank. Almost.
They have two locations in London (as well as one in Brighton that I’ll definitely visit when I head down there) though their Richmond site is not particularly convenient for me. Currently commuting out of London for work, I was interested to see if any of them were open on the weekend. I checked their website but couldn’t find any details about opening hours (though they either corrected it now or I just didn’t see it). Instead, I sent them an email and got a very pleasant and prompt response about their locations (map locations included) and their times.
Their more convenient location (for me at least) is their tiny store found on New Street just off Bishopsgate. This Sunday, it was pretty empty. My guess is that I went there for a pretty late time (2pm) and the constant drizzle forced people to move away. That’s fine with me since it meant I got to sit at one of their chairs, and ended up chatting to the lovely Irish barista about the store and how long it’d been there for. Kudos to the store for hiring someone so passionate about her coffee and profession. It sure beats the pale kids they hire at said-chain who don’t know to operate a real espresso machine.
Anyway, on to the coffee. I ordered a flat white. It’s slightly more expensive than the one they serve at Monmouth (my benchmark) at £2.20. That’s fair enough for having a sit-down coffee as well. The ratio of milk to espresso was perfect, and the espresso strong but not burnt. They even went to effort of pouring latte art on top (okay, well it was a slow day). Very nice all up. If I was working in the area, I’d definitely make an effort to go there for my daily dose. The sandwich (£3.90) was pretty good too. Thick crusty seeded bread with a hearty slab of ham and cheese. Heated up, it was the perfect lunch.
If you’re in the Liverpool Street area, I’d highly recommend people head here. It’s slightly hidden from view but they do fantastic cups of coffee.
Name: Taylor St Baristas
Found at: 1A New Street, London, EC2M 4TP
The Good: Great coffee, nice little cafe. They even sell Bundaberg Ginger Beer, Cherry Ripes and Freddo Frogs!
The Bad: There wouldn’t be much space for people to all sit down for lunch, but I’m betting their take away coffee is still fine.
This little gem is found in the middle of the Chelsea Market outfitted with a simple corner wooden bench and trendy barristas who proudly pour their latte art into reasonably sized cups.
Although fairly pricey (US$4.25) for a latte, it had the perfect ratio between steamed milk and the dark espresso blend, with a strong flavour without that bitter taste of burnt coffee. I liked how friendly their service was, and how patrons seemed to come out of nowhere just for their coffee. I’d definitely return to have their coffee, and fortunately it looks like they’ve set up two more around the city.
Name: Ninth Street Espresso
Found at: 75 9th Avenue (between 15th and 16th)
Jim found Manon Cafe when we were on a project in Clerkenwell and I have to admit it’s a great little store that sells an amazing brew of Illy branded coffee beans. Only open during the weekdays, their baristas are both friendly and efficient.
Most importantly, their coffee is well made, perfectly creamy espresso that never has that bitter edge of a badly burnt coffee made by a poorly trained barista. Their prices are reasonable (£1.90 for a small latte) and best of all, they offer a free chocolate sample with each coffee because they also happen to house a Leonadis chocolate store. It’s a great location if you happen to work in the area, and the only downside is that it’s not open on weekends to enjoy.
Name: Manon Cafe
Details: 110 Fleet Street
This image to the left is all I have to remember about Katsouris’ (wonderful) Deli, that I stumbled across while wandering around Manchester. I came across this joint found on the corner of Deansgate and St Mary’s Gate just in time for the morning coffee. Unfortunately in my excitement, I neglected to take a photo of the place and all I ended up with is this empty coffee cup.
Beyond simply a place for coffee, this surprisingly large venue, serves the myriad of crowds including the late brunching diners, the mid morning and mid afternoon tea and coffee drinkers, the lunchtime sandwich crowd and those simply wanting to take back some quality deli produce home. I figured that Manchester would have less of a coffee culture, and I would end up with some excessively milky, or deeply bitter coffee, both of which my latte triumphantly failed at. I’ll definitely be returning to this place if I’m ever in Manchester again.
Name: Katsouris Deli
Found at: 113 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2BQ