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London coffee places


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Going to London tomorrow, and to be frank I am somewhat fed up with Starbucks (and all equivalents, be they Costa, Nero, etc.). Everything is offensive in Starbucks - the smell, the price, the massed crowds.

Where can I have a decent cup of coffee with a decent pain au chocolat (or octopus salad for that matter) in Central London? Tomorrow I'll be around Victoria and Canary Wharf but anything around Oxford Circus/Bond Street/Soho also welcome. And South Kensington - it is prom season!

I have never had "fresh" freshly ground coffee in the UK other than what I make myself, so that would be absolutely fantastic, if it exists somewhere.

Ideas?

Edited by Roger le goéland (log)
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Not in the areas you specified but north of Borough Market, Grazing, 19-21 Great Tower St. The coffee IS freshly ground and comes from Union Coffee Roasters. Menu includes fantastic stuff for breakfast or lunch especially bacon, sausage, black pudding or haggis sandwiches and roast meats with or without Yorkshire pud and all the trimmings.

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Sounds fantastic! Perhaps this thread will help the fight against Starbucks domination of the world!

Should probably point out that by "fresh" freshly ground I mean coffee that has just been roasted (within 2-3 days, preferably the day before, up to a week is pushing it). Also the ground should not be left in the air for more than an hour. Pret coffee beans are technically "freshly ground" but it still tastes a bit stale...

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I would second flat white on brewer street, of the chains i think that apostrophe is also worthy of a mention (tthere is one behind oxford street in st christophers place and one on high st ken) also pain quotidien - marylebone high street, kings road and just off high st ken (near wholefoods)

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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My vote goes to Fernandez and Wells. They have a a cafe and sandwich shop/deli /wine bar round the corner from each other on Beak st and Lexington st in Soho. The coffee is as good as Flat white - one of the owners used to manage monmouth - and the pain chocolat and selection of cakes is better. It's also slightly more spacious, has lovely sanwiches and nice wine by the glass in the evening.

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My other half swears by HR Higgins on Duke Street (off Oxford St). They mainly sell coffee (and tea), but also have a coffe shop downstairs. Certainly not trendy, but probably one of the finest selections of coffee you'll find.

Lee

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I'd agree with the recommendations for Monmouth, Flat White and Fernandez and Wells. They all use Monmouth coffee so are similar although last time I was in Flat White they were saying that they are experimenting with there own blend.

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... the venerable Algerian Coffee Shop in Old Compton St has an espresso machine set up in the shop. No frills (and nowhere to sit, of course), but the coffee's at least as good as Bar Italia for much less money, and you can use the saving to buy some coffee/tea/chocolate while you're sipping...

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... the venerable Algerian Coffee Shop in Old Compton St has an espresso machine set up in the shop. No frills (and nowhere to sit, of course), but the coffee's at least as good as Bar Italia for much less money, and you can use the saving to buy some coffee/tea/chocolate while you're sipping...

If you're taking away beans or ground coffee, the "Brunette" blend at the Algerian Coffee House always used to be excellent when I lived in the West End.

Anyway, the coffee at Bar Italia, which used to be state-of-the art, has been pants for years. They gave up giving a stuff a long time ago.

Monmouth at Monmouth St WC2 or Borough Market does it for me every time, but the seating at Monmouth St is torment, probably deliberately so as to prevent people lingering (to be fair there are only about twelve seats), so it's fine if you want a quick caffine fix but not if you want to stretch out the experience.

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... but the seating at Monmouth St is torment,

Ha! Yes, those booths are painful, if you have anywhere near a normal pair of legs! That's why I take my coffee and stroll down the road to Seven Dials, cop a squat, and watch the world go by while enjoying my cuppa joe.

Monmouth Coffee Co. mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. coffee.

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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In the end I visited Fernandez & Wells, Flat White (see later) and Monmouth, in that order.

Fernandez & Wells (3pm):

Loads of sandwiches, mainly focaccia and cured meat/cheese. Had a chorizo and manchego sandwich, on which they sprayed olive oil and black pepper. Satisfying if a bit salty for the weather. Then I had a Portuguese custard cake, which to be frank wasn't that great (the Portuguese place next to Victoria makes better ones) and a (warm) freshly squeezed orange juice. It came to about a tenner.

Didn't try the coffee, but it looked tasty.

Flat White:

Got the address from here: http://www.london-eating.co.uk/7134.htm

which I plugged into this: http://maps.google.co.uk/

There was no Flat White, only "Fair Grounds", an "ethical", fairtrade, we love animals, etc. etc. kind of place. Two extremely thin, sulky Polish women served me an abysmal espresso. It was watery, burnt, stale, bitter, £1.50, and left me with a horrible aftertaste for the next hour.

Shame, I looked forward to it...

Monmouth:

I actually prefer that seating to what is usually available in the chain shops - the solidity of the wood is just comforting. Had a rhubarb tart and an espresso which cost me the better part of a fiver, although the espresso itself was only £1! The person I was with had a latte. Both were well prepared, the espresso did have an odd taste and smell hidden beneath the crema. It was because they only chucked the used grounds from the espresso "cup" (whatever it is called) without rinsing it through before putting new grounds. The old grounds made the new shot smell a bit of used espresso grounds. But I guess it would be almost impossible for them to keep washing the thing. Pastries were alright. I will come back.

Monmouth did not, however get anywhere near my "gold standard" - a single shot I had in Lisbon last year, in a simple looking pasteleria in a less touristy part of town, which was aromatic, smooth and a third crema...

No chance to try Grazing, which would have been my preferred choice.

On another note - there is a lovely coffee place in Cambridge, which serves freshly baked pastries but insists on using Illy beans... how can I hint that freshly roasted beans would make their coffee that much better? Would it be extremely bad manners to send them a 2kg bag with an anonymous note saying "try that, see what your customers think"?

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On another note - there is a lovely coffee place in Cambridge, which serves freshly baked pastries but insists on using Illy beans... how can I hint that freshly roasted beans would make their coffee that much better? Would it be extremely bad manners to send them a 2kg bag with an anonymous note saying "try that, see what your customers think"?

And where is this place in Cambridge? Might well be popping up there this weekend to meet a friend so a decent cup of coffee would be good.

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And where is this place in Cambridge? Might well be popping up there this weekend to meet a friend so a decent cup of coffee would be good.

Savino's, next to Subway and the bus stations. But the coffee isn't fresh, that's my point... (still better than the coffee-empire alternatives)

Have the almond-topped pain au chocolat - pure decadence!

Edited by Roger le goéland (log)
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re flat white. Think google maps mixed up Broadwick and Berwick Streets.

Fair Grounds is not good.

Flat White is very good, and the opposite of everything you had in Fair Grounds. Happy kiwis who will talk cofee, or anything, for as long as you want.

if you try again, keep walking past Fair Grounds on your left until you reach the Blue Posts Pub on Berwick St (100 meters'ish). Turn right, you're there.

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Monmouth at Monmouth St WC2 or Borough Market does it for me every time,

I'm sure I'm on my own here, but is Monmouth (the Borough branch) a bit rubbish? I must have been about a dozen times as people keep telling me it's the best, and I simply don't get it.

Meanwhile, there are a couple of kiwis who run a stall in the doorway of the Punch Tavern on Fleet Street every weekday morning, and do some sterling work.

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Just had a fantastic cup, freshly roasted, ground, then in the filter. It took me maybe 20 seconds to prepare and the beans were cheaper than Sainsbury's.

Why, when it is so cheap and easy to get good quality coffee (and I assume when the raw materials account for so little of the product price), do so many coffee shops not bother?

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I'm another big fan of Monmouth. You do need to be a contortionist to sit in their Monmouth Street cafe though, and the weather is hot, you'll feel clammy as hell too - take it outside...

PS

Edinburgh

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Monmouth at Monmouth St WC2 or Borough Market does it for me every time,

I'm sure I'm on my own here, but is Monmouth (the Borough branch) a bit rubbish? I must have been about a dozen times as people keep telling me it's the best, and I simply don't get it.

I think you may be on your own on this one.

We ran a restaurant (Glas) about ten yards away, and every meeting was lubricated with takeaway coffees from Monmouth and it was always great. Still very good when I had a coffee to stay a few weeks ago.

The Monmouth people really seem to care about what they do, so if you're not happy with what you're drinking, tell them what's not pleasing you about it.

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If you find yourself near spitalfields, Market Coffee House on Brushfield Street deserves a try. Not freshly roasted beans but damn good coffee. Unlike a number of independent shops in the area I think this place has actually benefited from the influx of chains - it remains busy but the starbucks has diverted those who go to coffeeshops for frozen yoghurt and diet muffins and because they have a sofa like the one on Friends.

Roger - how do you roast the beans?

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Just had a fantastic cup, freshly roasted, ground, then in the filter. It took me maybe 20 seconds to prepare and the beans were cheaper than Sainsbury's.

Why, when it is so cheap and easy to get good quality coffee (and I assume when the raw materials account for so little of the product price), do so many coffee shops not bother?

it seems some people do bother,

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...8071602018.html

Murky Coffees blog:

http://www.murkycoffee.com

Angry Customer blog:

http://www.andiamnotlying.com

All this over a $5.00 coffee?

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