Covent Garden Coffee Guide

01 Jul 2016
Monmouth

Covent Garden has long been at the centre of the London coffee story. The legend that is Monmouth has been operating in Covent Garden since 1978 and the area has been attracting coffee tourists almost as long. Back in the early years of the millennium we used to drink at Seattle’s Best Coffee on Long Acre, not knowing that this would be acquired by Starbucks and be the beginning of the London second wave of chain coffee. We later learned that that coffee had been roasted by Jeremy Torz and Steven Macatonia before began UK speciality coffee ball rolling with Union Hand Roasted in 2006. Chain ‘Battle’s were common back then as Coffee Republic, Starbucks and others used to open next door to each other to compete. Later, in 2009/9 we used to scale to the top of Snow and Rock in Mercer Street to drink at the Kiwi run Bullet Coffee long before speciality coffee was commonplace. In 2016 it felt we had somehow turned full circle as Starbucks Reserve opened on St Martins Lane, offering brew methods such as siphons, Chemex and Clover brewed coffee from a menu with table service.

 

Monmouth Coffee Company

Monmouth’s place in the tourist guides is assured and part of the reason for the long queues outside. The role Monmouth has played in the London coffee movement is undeniable. Many of those leading the 2008-11 London coffee revolution started their careers at Monmouth and the company’s emphasis on quality and ethical sourcing and roasting has influenced many. In so many ways Monmouth were ahead of the game in a similar way to how Neals Yard prefigured the Farmers’ Market movement. I remember the days of heading to Monmouth in the last decade and before hoping to get a spot in one of those tiny wooden booths. The roasting style might be considerably darker than current expectations but Monmouth is rightly a London coffee institution.

27 Monmouth Street WC2H 9EU

Full Review

 

New Row Coffee

New Row opened in 2011 and were for a long time the only destination for homemade almond milk and we used to make the trip just for that. The shop changed hands a while back as owner Tom Mullings acquired New Row along with Free State Coffee and the Espresso Room. All three cafes now serve coffees from Caravan Roasters.

24 New Row, WC2N 4LA

Full Review

 

Timberyard Seven Dials

A huge space for a central London cafe, this was Timberyard’s second location. Timberyard’s philosophy has always been unique among the London coffee scene and this bright, colourful two story space offers The Barn Berlin and Climson and Sons coffee as well as guest roasters.

7 Upper St Martin’s Lane, Seven Dials, WC2H 9DL

Full Review

 

Department of Coffee St Martin’s Courtyard

We were very impressed with the interior of this branch of Department of Coffee decorated in a modern shaker style with pale blue woodwork, white tiles and low hung lights. The clientele is mostly tourists and they seem delighted with the excellent drinks and food on offer. This is a quiet square off the busy streets and a fine retreat to enjoy Dumo Mathema’s excellent roasts.

19 Slingsby Place, St. Martin's Courtyard, WC2E 9AB

Full review

 

 

Lundenwic

The name comes for the earliest London Anglo-Saxon settlements nearby and was pronounced to rhyme with sandwich. The inspiration for the café comes clearly from Scandinavia and the coffee mostly from Workshop. The location, at Aldwych (another rhyme) and literally old settlement is perhaps just outside Covent Garden but it’s such a special coffeshop we felt the need to include it. Lundenwic is also famous for its porridge toppings and its food menu.

45 Aldwych, WC2B 4DW

 

Full review

 

Black Penny

Set between Covent Garden and Holborn and opposite the imposing Masonic Hall, The Black Penny serves excellent food with table service and Roastery Department coffee. We love the magazines in the back room.

34 Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5AA

Full review

 

 

Covent Garden Grind

Grind brought their brand to Covent Garden in 2016 with Antipodean style coffee and a unique food offer. Look out for Bowie’s handwritten lyrics wrought in neon and a thoughtful use of greenery.

42 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7LJ

Full review

 

Farmstand

It’s not a coincidence that almost all the Covent Garden coffeeshops serve food. Farmstand serves food first and foremost, but also Workshop coffee, Postcard teas and craft beers. The buffet style food selection is great and the selection of Workshop Coffee is a real bonus .

42 Drury Lane, Covent Garden, London WC2B 5RT

Full review

 

There have been worries about the role of some aggressive developers encouraging homogenous blandness in the West End. We certainly hope Covent Garden can continue to be a location for the unusual and the speciality. It’s a restaurant, shopping and nightlife district now (far from its origins as London’s fruit and vegetable market). Coffee shops like Monmouth (with its connections with Neal’s Yard), Starbucks Reserve (with its tourist draw), Farmstand, Grind and Black Penny with their unique menus have carved out their own positions in Covent Garden as other cafes: Salt, Notes Covent Garden, Damson and Bullet have come and gone.

Lundenwic

The name comes for the earliest London Anglo-Saxon settlements nearby and was pronounced to rhyme with sandwich. The inspiration for the café comes clearly from Scandinavia and the coffee mostly from Workshop. The location, at Aldwych (another rhyme) and literally old settlement is perhaps just outside Covent Garden but it’s such a special coffeshop we felt the need to include it. Lundenwic is also famous for its porridge toppings and its food menu.

45 Aldwych, WC2B 4DW

Full review