The week 22 – 29 April 2013 was
UK Coffee Week. This is an annual charitable event which celebrates the thriving UK coffee industry, including many independent coffee bars, while raising vital funds for Project Waterfall, the charity working in partnership with WaterAid to deliver life-changing clean drinking water projects to some of the poorest communities in African coffee-growing countries. More details can be found on their website www.ukcoffeeweek.com.
On this blog I have previously reviewed twelve independent coffee bars (Six of London’s Coffee Bars and Six more London Coffee bars ) and five in Birmingham (Good coffee outside London). I thought it appropriate to look at a few more in London to tie in with UK Coffee Week and the London Coffee Festival which is held at the end of the week. Now both festivals are finished for another year doesn’t mean you can’t visit these coffee bars; they’re there all year round.
LJ Coffee House – Winnett Street, Soho
Walk inside LJ Coffee House and you immediately feel at home. Comfy old leather chairs and sofa mix with small bistro style tables. It looks and feels like Soho coffee shop of the 1990s. The service was welcoming and personal and no doubt helped build up a loyal clientele which was very much in evidence. Using Union coffee they produce a subtle flat white without complex tastes. Coffee as it should be is their motto. Not only do they serve great coffee but they serve up a fantastic hot chocolate. The dark or extra dark, using cocoa from Ecuador and Madagascar respectively, is an organic chocaholics dream. They believe that coffee and cocoa farmers should be paid what their produce is worth so, as the notice inside says, “expect to pay a little more”.
Nude Espresso – 19 Soho Square, Soho
This is the second Nude Espresso in London the first being on Hanbury Street out east. The interior design is sleek and cutting edge with seating along one wall and on a second level towards the back. Those who come know what they want; great coffee. And they get it. Full bodied flat white using the beans from their own roasters in East London. A board on the wall details the blend being served. There is no wifi available, which today is a must in any indie coffee bar. Snacks are excellent particularly their chocolate covered lamingtons.
Ozone Coffee – 11 Leonard Street, Shoreditch
Is this a roastery serving coffee or a coffee bar with a roastery? From both outside and in this gives the impression of being a warehouse. All brick would and dark colours with a central island bar which you can sit at and discuss the merits of one brew method over another with the baristas. Or there are cubicles with tables to socialise with friends. Roasting is likely to be taking place downstairs where there is also a cupping table. The aroma of roasting coffee pervades the whole place. This Kiwi run place is buzzing and is popular for meetings. The flat white is smooth, bold with notes of chocolate and totally unique. Something that is becoming evermore popular – they serve water with your coffee.
Shoreditch Grind – Old Street Roundabout, Shoreditch
The distinctive black circular building with 60s cinema style signage on Old Street roundabout is hard to miss. The quotes on the sign above the door, all coffee themed, are changed regularly. When I visited it was “Deja Brew”. Inside there is a buzzing atmosphere around the communal table and the bar around the periphery of the building. There’s also a terrace outside under the trees. They serve a custom blend roasted to their specifications It has a delicate taste. Upstairs is a recording studio for creatives.
Sacred Cafe – Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush
It is unusual to see an independent coffee bar in a shopping complex full of chain stores. Nevertheless Sacred Cafe have one of their outlets there and serve a cracking flat white from their island bar in the Westfield Shopping at Shepherd’s Bush. There is a great selection of food the brownie I had was served with a side of cream and fresh berries. This is a place for coffee on the go or coffee to go. As such it has bar stools and soft stools around low table are designed for a quick pit stop to refuel during a bout of retail therapy.
In all the posts on coffee bars I have covered only a fraction of those in the UK. There are many more. Where is your favourite coffee bar? Can you recommend any I should include next time? Share your answers in the comments below.
Visit the coffee books page of the Travel Unpacked Shop for books on coffee including guides to coffee bars in London.