The Flat Whites of Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Brick Lane, Leather Lane, The Square Mile etc
Or: Where There Are Hipsters, There Will Be Third Wave Independent Specialty Coffee.
A few weeks ago, I was attempting to explain to someone why freshly ground specialty coffee was not just a hipster/posh thing but about being able, with some knowledge, to get more enjoyment from that raw product. She said she’d never heard of such a thing in her life. Another person said the same thing to me last week, but this was in relation to the sermon we had just heard on 1 Peter 5 at St. Helen’s Church, Bishopsgate:
She said she’d never in her church-going life heard that God had said that Christians were to suffer. Well, I said after we’d discussed this for a little while, this adds weight to the Bible not being something made up by man, because if you wanted to start a religion for personal profit and gain, you’d never say anything like this. The rest of the series on 1 Peter (“Don’t Be Surprised At The Fiery Trial“) is well worth a listen.
Coffee jaunts in London so far have been made to coincide with meet-ups with people or limited to times when the Associates’ study church (yes, they have the immense privilege of a whole church building set aside for their use) has been far too cold or dark to do any work in.
Many of the joints visited were within walking distance (up to an hour’s Londoner-pace walk, that is) of the Placement Church – in Shoreditch and Bethnal Green, Brick Lane, Leather Lane, within The Square Mile, and elsewhere.
Leila’s Shop (facebook. 15-17 Calvert Avenue, Shoreditch, E2 7JP) couldn’t fit many people. So not a place to expect to sit and read undisturbed. Those who managed to score a seat chatted over cooked breakfasts/brunches and polish platters of cured meats, pickles, rye. The coffee was decent.
Fix 126 Coffee (126 Curtain Road, EC2A 3PJ). Climpson and Sons Fix 126 Blend (50% Malawi Msese District, 33% Guatemala Co-op, 17% Brazil Fazenda Paraiso Pulped Natural) on a La Marzocco. Fairly decent but with a very slight bitter (burnt?) aftertaste. Very chilled out cafe with strategically placed lights and power sockets:
Shoreditch Grind (facebook. 213 Old Street, Old Street Roundabout, Islington, EC1V 9NR). Communal tables with barstools along the circular edge. I remember this being a good flat white (probably, amongst other things, the espresso to milk volume thing?) but was otherwise occupied so could not chat more with the baristas about provenance etc.
Brick Lane Coffee (157 Brick Lane, E1 6SB):
Kahaila Cafe (135 Brick Lane). The cakes were lovely and the coffee sacks and wooden crates seating arrangements nicely quaint. But the flat white was rather weak and watery. To be fair, they seem to be aiming to be more of a third place (“a church” they say), rather than a coffee joint per se.
Department of Coffee and Social Affairs (facebook. 4-16 Leather Lane, EC1N 7SU). Art exhibitions, meeting rooms, “social hub”. A rotating roster of roasters but it was Climpson & Sons on the hopper when i visited. I wonder if Climpson roasts slightly darker than Square Mile, but still a very decent cup:
Just across the way, Prufrock Coffee (facebook. 23 – 25 Leather Lane, EC1N 7TE). Standout coffee. Square Mile Coffee Roaster beans, Kees Van Der Westen. Appreciated the opportunity to geek chat about brewing parameters – had been trying to troubleshoot for some time. Also bit the bullet and indulged in a Hario kettle:
The Square Mile
Came upon Curators’ Coffee Studio on Cullum Street in The Square Mile, on the way back from the bank. The presence of a turquoise powder-coated three-group La Marzocco Strada and three hoppers of beans aroused enough interest for me to part with some change for a most interesting flat white from Square Mile Coffee Roaster’s Jirmiwachu Natural – like a strawberry coffeeshake.
Beany Green Gourmet Coffee (cart at the base of The Gherkin):
The Black Lab (18 Clapham Common Southside, Clapham). Climpson & Sons beans – when I visited, they were still serving the Summer Espresso 2012 (20% Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Oromia Co-operative, 20% Sumatra Wahana Estate Natural, 20% Columbia Racafe Medellin Region, 20% Columbia Somondoco Boyaca Deparment, 20% Dominican Republic Cibao Altura Crilo Estate). Served at 62 degrees celcius:
Everbean (facebook. 30 Avery Row, Mayfair) – Climpson & Sons, La Marzocco:
Flat Cap (by Notes Coffee. Borough Market) – Square Mile’s Red Brick Espresso (in this expression, 30% El Cascajal (Guatemala), 30% El Majahual (El Salvador), 30% Sertao (Brazil), 10% Kagumoini (Kenya)). Delicious with well-frothed milk:
Notes, Music and Coffee (31 Saint Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4ER) – nipped in here during the intermission at the London Coliseum next door. Requested Square Mile’s Sweetshop Espresso in my flat white. The barista was kind enough to calibrate this for a fantastic cup just bursting with fruit (in this incarnation, 50% Kiawamururu (Kenya), 50% Suke Quto (Ethiopia). Really made me smile:
Grind Coffee Bar (5C The Great Eastern Market, Westfield Shopping Centre, Stratford City, E20 1EH) – London Coffee Roasters (the baristas couldn’t remember what was in the blend). La Marzocco Strada MP with 3M Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration. Good coffee in a megamall: