Quote: “Seven guilt free days? Really?”
With UK Coffee Week beginning Monday 22nd April, we now have seven days, yes seven guilt free days, to celebrate coffee. So, here are a few places to while away the hours or race in, grab a take-away and leg it before you miss your train.
The café on the corner of Hildreth St and Bedford Hill in Balham, has recently been taken over. Now less of a burn- your- mouth on the coffee, tuna and too much mayo sandwich place; you get more of an Aussie/old style British blend, shabby chic chill out hub with Anzac biscuits and organic eggs on sour dough bread. Coffee is served in cups and saucers and my cappuccino had some of that lovely cappuccino art that a lot of places lack. It’s coffee is good; in my opinion, the best in Balham. So, if you’re looking for a quirky, and want a quiet place to read some Nietzsche, then give it a little visit. If you like it then grab a collection of their loyalty cards.
Open 7 days per week ‘til 5pm
Sweet Revenge Cupcake Bakery
On the corner of Kingston’s market triangle Sweet Revenge is one shop you can’t walk by easily. The giant cupcakes encased in hanging bird cages and red velvet cake nestled by the window lure you in. Before you know it you’re chowing down on a chocolate cupcake whilst still ogling the Oreo one. Cakes aside, the coffee is made to perfection. I have never had a bad coffee here. The shop is small, but you can usually find a seat to squeeze into.
41 Market Place, Kingston, London. Open 7 days ‘til late.
Tate Modern Member’s Room
I’m sure it’s not too difficult to find a friend who can take you to the Tate Modern. Or, if you’re not a member yourself you could join. Joining not only provides you with unlimited visits to all the exhibitions, and a discount in the shop, but it has one of the best member’s rooms in the whole of London. The member’s room is high up inside this converted power-station. It’s this height which makes the view spectacular. It offers a magnificent view of the Thames and St Paul’s Cathedral.
If you visit before the 27th May you can explore a retrospective of one of the most famous American artists, Lichenstein before lounging (the chairs are very reclining) with your latte. If you fancy an Irish coffee then you can take full advantage of their bar. Food and nibbles are also available, obviously they do come at a bit of a premium and they sell out quickly too.
Open 7 days per week, open late Friday and Saturday evenings.
If you want the 2009 World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies frothing your milk then head over to EC1. Check him and his entrepreneurial partner Jeremy Challender out at their shop or coffee trolley. You can also receive coffee training from Gwilym too.
Because of Gwilym’s potential to move his trolley on a whim see http://www.prufrockcoffee.com before you try to hunt him down.
For those who like the smell of freshly ground beans, both the Caravan venues boast their own roastery. Less of a café and more of a restaurant, both these venues continuously receive good write-ups, not just for their coffee, but for their globally influenced food with a not too trendy price tag. Their coffee is made from ethically sourced Arabica beans.
The original, Exmouth Market EC1R 4QD is a trendy, relaxed space; a place to chill away from the bustling market.
The second Caravan at Kings Cross is a converted Granary Building. It offers a vast warehouse feel with brick walls and canteen style dining. Its neighbour, Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, sets the tone: creative and contemporary.
Coffee from vans seems so last year; its food from vans that are now taking over. But don’t forget these little caffeine boxes on wheels because most of them produce a great cup. These coffee vans are exactly where you need them: outside the train stations and on the street corners as you stride to work. One of the marvellous things about these wheeled miracles is that they are open when we need the caffeine most: early in the morning.
So, in your rush hour run prop your eyes open with matchstick and look out for one of these early morning saviours.
A recommendation by Time Out is my last coffee shop to visit in London. It has such a good review I’m going to hunt it down, hopefully. It’s “Slightly hidden away at the junction of Stroud Green Road and Upper Tollington Park” (Time Out, p. 14, April 9-15 2013). Not being a north Londoner the address sounds like a foreign language. But, what doesn’t sound like a foreign language is the coffee. It apparently “exceeds all but the most geekish standards,” according to the Time Out review.
I hope you take advantage of my favourites, the well -known and populated as well as the tucked away and mobile little cafés. Each of the cafés offer something different to experience alongside your coffee; whether it’s a red velvet cupcake from Sweet Revenge, blue cheese and peanut wontons from Caravan or even learning how to be your own barista at Prufrock; it should make your week a little more interesting.