London's original speciality coffeeshops (open since 2008 or earlier)22 Feb 2016
Flashback – 2008 - Speciality coffee in London was very much a new thing. Some coffeeshops, like Monmouth, Flat White and Sacred had been open for a while. Other new cafes began to open that year. Now closed, Taste of Bitter Love on Hackney Road was very popular and the heart of a scene focussed on Soho and East London. Gwilym Davies (Prufrock) had left Monmouth and was running his legendary Colombia Road Flower Market stall. Jeremy Challender (Prufrock) and Lee Harte (Giddy Up) manned the Pitch 42 stall in Whitecross Market. The main event though was the launch of Square Mile coffee by Anette Moldvaer and James Hoffman. James had won the World Barista Championship in Tokyo that year and Anette the World Cupping Championship in 2007. Previously most cafes used Monmouth coffee, with a few notable exceptions but that was to change as Square Mile entered the market and began to establish their London dominance.
You will still see a queue outside Monmouth Covent Garden most days and much deserved. Monmouth began roasting in 1978 and long emphasised provenance and quality before it was fashionable. They deserve credit for their groundbreaking role in London coffee and we all owe them big.
27 Monmouth Street WC2H 9EU
Flat White brought the Antipodean coffee influence to Soho in 2005. Cam McClure had a passion to create the coffees he’d enjoyed in his native New Zealand and teamed up with Aussie ethical funds manager Peter Hall and James Gurnsey to open the Soho destination. People like James Hoffman would drink coffee here regularly and go onto great things. Peter Dore-Smith of Kaffeine fame relates how he spend hours just watching the baristas. Flat White became the model for many London coffeeshops. Cam left – Peter is still involved - and Flat White recently reinvented itself, it now serves Drop Coffee from Sweden. Flat White had first served Monmouth before being a long time wholesale customer for Square Mile.
17 Berwick Street, Soho, W1F 0PT
Founded by roaster Ian Burgess, Climpson and Sons found a home on Broadway Market in 2005, ever enthusiastic and building a loyal community following they were transformed when Tim Styles (Williams) (later of Workshop) began to have an input in 2007. At first it was known as Burgil Coffee, but Tim, who was hired as manager, proposed they remodel the shop, making it more of a cafe, rebrand it as 'Climpson & Sons', and drive quality. “We hired good people, we overhauled machines, and we bought better grinders”, said Tim. Climpsons goes on from strength to strength.
67 Broadway Market, E8 4PH
Jorge Fernandez has worked Monmouth’s stall in Borough Market with Gwilym Davies. They both left and Jorge opened Fernandez and Wells focussing on quality Spanish charcuterie and fine foods as well as coffee. Initially they used Monmouth, later switching to Has Bean. Lyndsey Harley (now of Modern Standard) worked there as a barista back then as well as Jack Coleman (Coleman Coffee) and later Fernandez and Wells would help launch the careers of David Robson (Soho House Group) and James Bailey (Workshop) before becoming a small cafe chain.
73 Beak Street, Soho, W1F 9SR
Opening in 2008 off Brick Lane, Nude , initially roasted coffee downstairs below their cafe but a year later opened a roastery down the road. The owners were experienced in the New Zealand, Australian and Canadian coffee markets. The coffee attracts loyal regulars still and serves an excellent brunch alongside a range of coffee options.
26 Hanbury Street E1 6QR
The Tolley siblings had begun selling coffee in March 2006 in a wholefood supermarket in Richmond and later that year in Brighton. Things really developed though after they opened their New Street cafe opposite Liverpool Street Station in August 2008. Serving Union Hand Roasted coffee they have probably launched the careers of more baristas than anyone – including Shaun Young (Noble, Estate Dairy) and Sang Ho Park (formerly of Square Mile) among others. Now they have several cafes across London and are roasting their own excellent coffee.
1A New Street EC2M 4TP
Shelagh Ryan brought a touch of Oz to Fitzrovia in 2008 with Lantana – much, much imitated over the years. She brought casual, good quality all day dining to London and the coffee was always important to her. It’s been so successful in later years she has bought up the next door cafe purely for take-outs and opened branches in Shoreditch and Camden. The focus is on food but the coffee is always decent – originally serving Monmouth, Lantana long served Square Mile coffee before switching to Alchemy.
13 Charlotte Place, Fitzrovia, W1T 1SN
Another important cafe, Dose Espresso opened in December 2008. Their tiny cafe opposite Smithfield Market (next door to their current larger premises) was a rare spot for great coffee outside the East End and the West End back then. Owner/barista James Phillips had worked as a barista in Sydney. I’s a real treat to enjoy a morning coffee in Dose and watch the interaction with all the many long time loyal regulars
70 Long Lane, London, EC1A 9EJ
Robert Robinson had been running a coffee stall in Paris and Fabio Ferreira joined him in 2008 to run the Flat Cap stall in Strutton Ground near Victoria (at first Fabio was a customer at the stall run by Rob). The stall developed a great reputation over the years and was the beginning that led to Notes Coffee shops and a hugely successful business. Flat Cap has always functioned a little independently of Notes and over the years has helped launch the careers of Candice Madison (formerly of Notes) as well as featuring such coffee legends as barista Charlie (currently 74 and still working the stall) as well as Alfie Sims and his brother Harry.
4 Strutton Ground, Westminster, SW1P 2HR
Amazingly, Flat White’s sister cafe Milk bar opened back in 2008. Long a dark, atmospheric place with moody atmospheric indie music it has recently been reinvented as a bright, still popular cafe, featuring alternative art. The Kalita bar serving wonderful brews from Drop Coffee is a must.
3 Bateman Street, Soho, W1D 4AG
Rob Green opened Pavilion with Brett Redman after Brett previously ran a small cafe called Elliot’s in Bethnal Green (where Rob was a regular customer). Set in fabulous Victoria Park, Rob and Brett soon earned a great reputation for their food – especially brunch – but coffee was always a big deal – and Pavilion have long served Square Mile coffee. Provenance of food was always emphasised. A second cafe restaurant Elliot’s was opened in Borough Market and then a bakery, Pavilion bakery with cafe sites on Broadway Market and (soon) on Colombia Road.
Victoria Park, Crown Gate West E9 7DE
The stage was set for the expansion of the London coffee scene in 2009 including the openings of such favourites as Kaffeine, The Espresso Room, Look Mum No Hands and Tina We Salute You. All that and another British World Barista Champion!