Tag Archives: best coffee in London

Is this My Favourite Coffee Shop in the World? Prufrock Coffee, London

I often get asked, “So, Lameen what is your favourite coffee shop in the World?”. It’s a bit of a tricky question, because the modern age consumer doesn’t get easily satisfied with just the product – they want an experience. Sure, I’ve had great coffee in cafes, where I wished they had been a bit friendlier and the opposite holds sway too – good customer service but mediocre coffee. I often try and process that very quickly but I see that the questioner starts to get impatient – expecting me as a coffee lover to just pop out the answer. Furthermore, they get even more impatient when I start saying for espresso, it was…. and for filter, it has to be….. and I just really loved the concept and the staff at…… So, not to burden them with my complicated musings, I will default to Prufrock Coffee in London. And, you guessed it, “but why?”. Then I think to myself, if I have to start explaining the experience, that it was started by a former WBC Champion, that companies approach them to test new technology, that they started using reverse osmosis water, that they have a great barista academy, that they gave me a free barista tasting session, that I learnt a lot from chatting with them for hours, etc. Then they tune off.

So, I thought to myself, actually, when was the last time I visited Prufrock coffee and I realised shamefully that I hadn’t been back to Prufrock Coffee for about 6 years. After all, my post on my first visit in 2011 (read here) was so popular that the tweet advertising it, was retweeted by Square Mile Coffee Roasters and got me my most hits back then in one day – over 300. In addition, one of my pictures, when I used to use a Nikon Camera for all my coffee and food photos – was liked by Prufrock so much, they gave me a free tasting class – read here. So, I was well overdue a visit.

Located on 23-25 Leather Lane, Prufrock is on a busy week day market street. It is unusually big for a classic London specialty coffee shop and on their website, they even highlight that. I won’t go into the aesthetics, as you can read that in my original posts from 2011, however somethings have changed – more retail space to sell coffee, t-shirts and more and a stronger focus on food, without compromising on coffee of course. Prufrock are still very closely associated with Square Mile, so you can buy their coffees here too.

As you can see from above, they are very much still into the provision of both barista and specialised “coffee ” related training. Their website offers more options and if you recall from one of my earlier posts in 2019, I mentioned that they new coffee roasters in Vienna, Jonas Reindl, were trained by Prufrock. So a Coffee Lover’s Dream – Prufrock it still is. and I know that if I want to take my aspiring coffee career to the next level, it will start from Prufrock. In fact, even though I know it was lunchtime, it was quite busy and I just about got a space to sit. I noticed also, that a few tourist were visiting, buying souvenirs.

Now to the the coffee and my visit.

Visiting at lunchtime was probably not the best idea, but I needed great coffee as early as possible in the day. As you can guess, their fame has blossomed and not only was the cafe busy with what looked like regulars, but a few touristy looking customers were also paying homage. In fact I was lucky to get a sit, which was pleasantly opposite the brew bar, decked with the Victoria Arduino VA388 Black Eagle and accompanying Victoria Arduino coffee grinders.

 

For the coffee, they had two choices and if you have time and are serious, you can enquire which blend would be good for the type of coffee you desire – I was so excited to be “back” that I ordered two; the fruitier version as an espresso and the not so fruitier one as a piccolo.

 

Great of course. I started with the espresso and finished off with dessert – the piccolo.

After my coffees I wandered over for a chat to meet the baristi, Jake, who took my order and Aga, who prepared them. As Aga was busy making more great coffees, I had a chat with Jake, asking him about how long he had been working there and sharing with him my passion for coffee, etc. Very friendly, adding the experience of course. Before I left to rejoin the family, I noticed a delicious looking cake – I can’t remember now, but it had a rosemary and strawberry – very unique and the size of the slice was enough for two, so I bought that together with Square Mile’s Palestina Coffee for filter brewing.

Ah! so happy I went back and I pray it won’t be another 6 years before I visit. Still a great place for coffee and I think when I visit again, I’ll be doing more than just drinking coffee as I plan to start investigating adding the word “coffee” into my next career path, God willing.

So, is Prufrock my favourite coffee shop in the World? If I wanted to ask anyone or start a serious coffee career, they will top my list no doubt because I know that they are completely dedicated to coffee.

For more on offer at Prufrock, I defiantly recommend visiting their website; https://www.prufrockcoffee.com

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London Coffee Report 2017

I can’t believe it’s already 2018. Wow! time really flies. I was reviewing my blog for 2017 and it dawned on me that I didn’t do London coffee scene post for 2017, so here it is, a mix of the new, a fave and convenient, the classic and going back.

The Classic – Store Street Espresso – 40 Store St, Fitzrovia, London WC1E 7DB, UK

In fact it is quite baffling as to why since this London “classic” opened in 2010, around the time the World Barista Championships (WBC) were held in London, I have never been here. I first heard of them as they were one of the first coffee shops to use Square Mile Coffee way back then and they still use them. Sure I’ve been to their “sister” shop, Continental Stores, but not to the big brother. So one rainy August I trekked to Store Street where the shop is located – yes, the shop is named after the street it is located on.

When I finally got there, it was late afternoon and I was really panting for coffee. The place was fairly empty but you could tell that it was the sort of place that would have been very busy earlier in the day. As you walk in, all the action is on your left, Vittoria Arduino espresso machine, grinders, etc, fronted by grab me pastries and and cakes, even though most of them had gone already. As you walk past the brew station and before you approach the sitting area, just on your right they have coffee on sale and gadgets too. The place looks quite bright as they have a sun roof, similar to Colonna and Smalls in Bath. The staff look liked they had just finished a battle, but relaxed and still smiling. To test their milk based skills I went for a cortado using Square Miles Red Brick and some sugar, pasties de nata;

A tasty brew but I wasn’t finished. Before my new coffee, I took a walk around and started chatting to one of the staff, Toby. Taken aback by my questions, he offered me a special brew using the V60 and of course I trusted him – later on, he even refused to charge me for this cuppa – very kind indeed. I must confess I have forgotten the roaster, which I think was nordic based. It was just what you wanted from a filter brew, delicious mouth feel with fruit at the front with a  caramel underlying tone outside your tongue walls.

From my short stay there, I could smell the dedication to quality at this shop and definitely rate it as one of my top coffee shops in an already very high standard of coffee in London. Once again, thanks to Toby, Natalya and the barista girl for  great experience.

Going Back – Fernandez and Wells, 55 Duke Street, W1K 5NR

If you’ve been an avid follower of my blog you’ll know that when I used to visit London a lot during the noughties (2000-2009) I basically only trusted two brands for great coffee, Flat White on Berwick Street and its sister shop, Milk Bar during the time of Cameron and Fernandez & Wells located at Beak Street and St Anne’s Court back then. Since then Fernandez & Wells have expanded and now have 4 locations. In the summer, as I tried to dodge shoppers on Oxford Street, I walked down Duke Street, adjacent to the corner of Selfridges on Oxford Street and saw that located inside British Fashion shop, Jigsaw, there was a Fernandez & Wells neon sign. As it was time for one of my coffee fixes, I dragged my son in with me to check what was on offer. I was very pleased to see, I must say, that their signature drink, the Stumpy, was still on offer. In summary it is a triple shot cortado style drink – read about it’s origins here.

They have lots of tasty snack options too, which is captured in their recently launched cookbook, Rustic, available on amazon (no, I’m not sponsored by amazon). It’s actually on my wish list as Fernandez & Wells was one of the first London eateries I used to go for both good coffee and food.

Something new – Ludenwic 45 Aldwych, London WC2B 4DW, UK

Just like 2017 flew by with a mad busy work schedule, so did life, because just this past summer, our daughter is already looking at University. As we were waiting to visit Kings College on the Strand, I was looking for somewhere to get my daily espresso milk based fix and I recalled that a few months ago a cafe at Aldwych liked one of my instagram pics and I thought I’d like to check them out. Another busy hub, where most of London’s lawyers work, Lundenwic is well located in a very bustling work area of London, in between London School of Economics and Kings College. It is quite a small shop with a Nordic touch, clean lines, delicious looking pastries, cakes and salads. Luckily, I was also hungry, so I grabbed a nice looking salad to go with my coffee.

Lundenwic use Workshop coffee, so expect a fruity bias, brewed on a La Marzocco Linea. One our last day of our summer holiday, we had to visit a pop-up macaroon ice cream sandwich shop, Yolkin and I was surprised to learn that Lundenwic were open on a Sunday, which with their location is very quiet, but I was very happy to visit them again. So, if you work in that area or are studying at one of London’s best universities, LSE or Kings College, or need a quick great cup of coffee whilst visiting Covent Garden/Theatre Land, then I highly recommend Lundenwic.

Something New Too – Saint Espresso & Kitchen, 296 Kentish Town Rd, London 

On the same trip as above, last summer, we rushed off to Kentish Town to see my cousin and as I waited for the rest of my family to catch up, I saw this little new spot, Saint Espresso & Kitchen.

I walked in briefly and took a quick look around and promised to be back and I was. Walking in, you could tell it was something this type of middle class neighbourhood had missed. Exposed brick, reticent of  New York Urban Retro, wooden stools with sone steel thrown in, offering breakfast, sandwiches, pastries, cakes and more and decked out with a La Marzocco Linea as the finishing touch to a classy spot. I found out that they also roast their own coffee but as our luggage was already on its way to Heathrow and my hand baggage was heavy, I resisted the temptation to buy more coffee.

I had a brief chat with the barista and mentioned that I write about coffee. Upon hearing that and I’m not sure if it was testament to his dedication, he pulled three shots of espresso, before he gave me my order, adding that it might be a bit bright. I must confess that of late whenever I walk into a cafe and mention I write about coffee, some baristi seem to up their game, especially if I’m ordering espresso – a plus for me and I ain’t complaining.

Sure it was a bit bright and flowery, perhaps due to the lower brewing temperature, their espresso menu or coffee but it was sparkly and gave me a lift as we headed down back to the tube to catch the taxing journey to Heathrow Airport. Saint Espresso & Kitchen are very well located, with literally under a minute from Kentish Town tube station on the Northern Line, so if you need that quick coffee rush or coffee on the go, I recommend you pop in before your morning journey to work. I found out afterwards that Saint Espresso have two other shops, one located on 214 Baker’s Street, quite close to the West End, and one at Angel on 26 Pentoville Road, so I am looking forward to checking these out too.

Convenient – Notes Bond Street Station

When my wife and I visited London to celebrate our 20 years wedding anniversary, we headed to Oxford Street via Bond Street tube station and as I walked out, I couldn’t believe what I saw – Notes of Covent Garden now had a small branch at Bond Street Station. Wow! how convenient – before, whenever I came to this end of Oxford Street, I used to head straight to Workshop Coffee at St Christopher’s Place, about 3 minutes walk away, but this is super convenient. When we visited in December, it was my first stop on many occasions.

It’s like a pop-up shop but of course with a strong focus on quality coffee, complimented with a selections of sweets and cakes. They also sell their coffee, which I bought on my last visit to a London coffee shop of 2017. They’ve got the gadgets, friendly and good baristi and offer more than coffee, like hot chocolate and teas.

Soho Favourites – Soho Grind (19 Beak Street, Soho) and Department of Coffee & Social Affairs (3 Lowndes Court, off Carnaby Street)

Occasionally, I find myself near the Soho part of the West End, just off Regents Street and as I wave through the crowds trying to avoid people congestion traffic, I dot through Soho’s side streets and usually stop over at Soho Grind for either filter brew or milk based coffee, where you can be met with a slightly more trendy crowd and friendly baristi. They have seating downstairs if it gets more crowded at the top.

If I’m closer to the Oxford Street end, I pop into Department of Coffee & Social Affairs, which is closer to the top end of Carnaby Street. It’s a lot busier here, with a few tourists around and more seating downstairs. If you want take out, let them know first, otherwise take a seat and wait to be served, which I must confess can be a bit slow. They have a menu for food and some delicious looking cakes too. As they are one of London’s coffee roasters, they sell their coffee too, and now roast for nespresso machines. I bought the latter for my bro, as he owns one.

Luck Londoners with all these high quality coffee shops, phew!

As busy as ever with more quality coffee shops to visit than ever, still makes London, I believe, probably the best coffee city in the World. I look forward to trying out new ones in 2018 or re-visting some old faves to check out if they have maintained their standards.