Prufrock Coffee on Leather Lane
Somebody recently joked that Prufrock is the Manchester United of the specialty coffee industry. While the contradictory nature of this statement is obvious, it does have quite a lot of truth to it. The level of talent and skill found behind Prufrock’s Leather Lane coffee bar is nothing short of extraordinary. Those keeping score know that over the past few years the crew at Prufrock have collectively gathered a remarkable number of awards and accolades. Some individual, and others shared, such as being awarded the 2012 Best Independent Coffee Shop at the European Coffee Symposium.
Surprisingly, considering the potential for pretension, Prufrock is one of the most relaxed coffee shops in London. Located on Clerkenwell’s bustling Leather Lane, the interior is spacious and the atmosphere is playful. Visitors are met by one of London’s first dedicated brew bars, the world’s most beautiful espresso machine and a series of surprisingly pink columns.
The brew bar offers a daily menu often with multiple beans roasted by the UK and the world’s most influential roasters. Baristas will discuss recommended brew options - whether it be pourover, AeroPress, syphon or whatever else is available - and grind and brew before you. It is an excellent spot to learn about coffee, from both the baristas and the customers, who often bring a wide range of knowledge themselves. Occasionally there are off-menu beans hidden under the bar so be sure to ask.
The espresso drinks, which are equally as good, are most often pulled on a Nuova Simmonelli T3. The machine’s casing is canvas to a remarkable painting by Martin Kingdom depicting an “alternative theory on the origins of coffee”. Complete with pilgrims, pyramids and what appears to be an albino giraffe - all seemingly unaware of the enormous coffee bean-meteorite flashing through the sky - the narrative is wonderfully wacky yet it makes for what is undoubtedly the most original coffee machine ever seen.
Putting their treasure chest of machinery to further use, Prufrock is home to a variety of training courses geared towards both aspiring professionals and home brewers known as BRAT (Barista Resource & Training). Courses are open to all and are taught by the team’s championship-calibre staff.
Additionally, as a focal point of London’s specialty coffee industry, Prufrock regularly hosts events and speakers - accomplished baristas, roasters, authors and others. Needless to say, there is never a dull moment at Prufrock.
Review by Derek Lamberton; photograph by Jacob Thue.Tweet