Another four London coffee bars
There are so many London coffee bars that there is now an annual coffee festival in London – The London Coffee Festival. The festival runs from 3rd – 6th April 2014 at the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London. Below are just four I have had the pleasure in reviewing recently.
Fernandez and Wells, South Kensington
In a pedestrianised square on Exhibition Road this branch of Fernandez and Wells is ideally placed for the museums of South Kensington. As you walk in you are met with the trademark bar full of charcuterie, filled to bursting sandwiches and baguettes along with cakes and, of course, coffee paraphernalia. Along the wall is a narrow bar while through a doorway is a room with tables and window seat for those wanting to stay a little longer.
Fernandez and Wells in my experience has a well deserved reputation for its cakes. The Morrocan Almond and Honey cake here is sensational. However, on this visit, the same cannot be said for the flat white. It was not well made and was weak and milky rather than the bold taste I expect from a flat white. I would definitely come back for the food but not the flat white; perhaps next time I’ll try something different.
Having tried Sacred at Westfield Shepherd’s Bush I was expecting something great from their flagship cafe on Ganton Street just of Carnaby Street. Although different I wasn’t disappointed. the decor and ambience of the two couldn’t be more different. The Ganton St cafe was all dark wood and bare brick wall with what look like Maori crafts on the wall. Most independent cafes in London are operated by antipodeans; the Sacred cafes are New Zealand. There is a very friendly New Zealand feel about this one. You can either take your coffee in the main cafe, head downstairs or if the weather is fine sit out in the sunshine. There’s plenty of space and it never feels busy.
There is a a wide selection of eats all freshly made. On display are far too many cakes to visit only once. I resolved to return especially as the chocolate and raspberry brownie tasted so good and all the others look as if they tasted equally as good.
The flat white is one of the best I have tasted in all of the many London coffee bars I have visited – Grind in Putney still hold the top spot in my opinion but I’d put Sacred’s up there equal with them. They use their own brand of roasted beans to give and earthy, full bodied and complex flat white with a hint of caramel. Just like at Westfield it is the friendly Kiwi service that makes the experience something special.
They have free wifi service that works. This is one place I shall be coming back to. There is a great ambience making it a terrific place to work.
This cafe, run by Melbourneites, is easily missed in Avery Lane. I had heard how great the coffee here was and that of all London coffee bars it was voted number one. Using the apps Beanhunter and Citymapper I managed to find it tucked away in a little corner of Mayfair. Immediately you walk in there is a friendly vibe. The decor is a mix of cream painted walls and naked concrete with a glass, chrome and wood mezzanine floor that overlooks the window seats and circular communal table downstairs.
The flat white just comes together beautifully with a perfectly formed crema. It is full bodied with a bright flavour that has a hint of nuttiness. The after taste was pleasant. As it was lunch I chose a smoked chicken salad sandwich. If I had not seen it on display I would have said it was made to order; everything about it was fresh.
This is one London coffee bar worth getting the GPS out and searching for.
Fernandez and Wells, Somerset House
Unassuming and understated seems to be the trademark of Fernandez and Wells’ cafes. The Somerset House branch. Found in the north-east corner of the Somerset House quadrangle it is hardly noticed unless there are people sitting outside. The coffee shop shares the interior with a bakery and charcuterie but has its own space with an industrial steel and slate topped bar.
Th flat white here is mellow but with a full body. However the crema does not have the same velvety smoothness associated with the best flatties. Their generous slices of plum crumble cake are going to be hard to beat. In my experience Fernandez and Wells do great cakes and it is worth calling in for them alone.
There is a more in depth review of this coffee bar here
You can also visit the coffee books page of the Travel Unpacked Shop for other books on coffee including the guides to London coffee bars highlighted above.
Other posts on London Coffee bars