I continue my coffee tour, starting from Paddington and here I discover a part of London that I never imagined to find.
I continue my coffee tour, starting from Paddington and here I discover a part of London that I never imagined to find. At the junction of Grand Union Canal and Regent’s Canal lays a fascinating green and calm corner called little Venice, northerly of the extremely busy Paddington station.
Here you can breathe a quiet and calm atmosphere made of floating houses, ducks and leafy branch trees overlooking into the canal. The sorrounding landscape though calls to my mind a lot more the nordic capitals like Amsterdam and Copenhagen rather than Venice’s canals. If you aren’t in a rush, some boats can carry you from here to Camden’s Lock passing through Regent’s park and the London zoo. However, since I didn’t have my breakfast yet, I decide to stop by Beany green in Sheldon Square, a small square along the canal just beneath Westway highway.
On the outside the bar is furnished with coloured tables and beach chairs. From the large windows which overlook the square you can see the interiors very well: a sort of colourful puzzle. The furniture is very minimal, assembled with wooden benches and scaffolding tubes as if it was a construction site where everything is continuously developing. Going inside you immediately find yourself in front of the food showcase and here you can put together your own brunch with a wide range of sweets and salty products, combined by fresh fruit juices and a particular attention to the various food allergies with gluten free products and different kinds of milk.
I order a coffee filter to match with my mixed cereals, eggs and avocado. The coffee is quite full-bodied and balanced but it isn’t very distinctive. On the other hand the food is delicious, the location is very lively and also the staff is very friendly. Because of the beautiful sunny day, I make a few more steps along the canal and move towards Portobello market which is a few metro stops away.
I make my way through the stalls of Portobello road searching for Talkhouse Coffee, a coffee shop which I was struck by during my last trip here, because of its different proposals of coffee and extraction methods . As soon as I arrive here though I notice that it is closed , so I ask some informations to the nearby shop owner who is very friendly and chatty. Jake tells me that Talkhouse closed almost one year ago and he invites me to have a coffee in his spot, the Big Red Tent Vinyl Cafe. The place is cute, full of vinyl records of every genre and consistently clocked by funky rhythms .
I order an espresso, a blend of Colombia and Brazil Arabicas, but it is tastes very bitter and is poorly extracted. My personal suggestion? Come and visit Jake if you are looking for good music and good company, but not for a good coffee!
I move to King ‘s Cross by tube and I decide to make a detour at Great Portland Street station where there is Black Sheep Coffee . The place is very essential and suitable for a coffee to go, so I order their “Bulletproof blend” expressly made for takeaway and I get back to my tour.
After the first sip I realize that it is a blend of only Robusta beans, which is not for sure one of my favourite chioces. So if you are not a great fan of particularly strong and woody coffees, I recommend at least a combination with milk (and here the selection is quite wide between different types).
Not far from King’s Cross there is one of my favourite spots: Caravan, a microroastery in an old renovated granary in perfect Victorian style.
The place is suitable both for a generous breakfast or for a quick lunch and the coffee selection is unbeatable( 9 single origins between naturals, washed and different brewing methods).
On the outside an installation of illuminated fountains makes the place even more unique and fascinating, animated by families with children who play around and university students of the adjacent Art faculty. If you have some time to stay in the nearby area you cannot miss a visit to the British Library where you can admire a rare collection of unique manuscripts from the Magna Carta to the Beatles’ lyrics through the first book ever printed, the Gutenberg Bible.
From the Farringdon metro station I take the Leather Lane where Prufrock Coffee is located. This place is one of London’s cult coffee shops founded by Gwilym Davies, World Barista Champion in 2009.
The interior design is minimal and vintage with a wide choice of coffee and brewing methods. I choose an Ethiopian washed from Cooperative Nano Challa brewed with a Hario V60: the coffee is distinguished by elegance, smoothness and sweetness with a wonderful floral and balsamic aftertaste … excellent !
I decide to try the Espresso blend as well, the Red Brick Square Mile made from 80 % of Colombia Inga Bridge and 20% of Misuku Malawi: it is very balanced and sweet with strong hints of yellow fruit and a nice sirupy and dense aftertaste. While upstairs it is possible to have coffee in good company, downstairs Jeremy Challender, the shop Director, leads SCAE Brewing and Barista skills courses in a well-equipped academy.
A few steps away I find another Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, at number 14 of the same street ; the staff is very friendly, extremely prepared and describes in avery professional way the available coffee list and brewing methods.
I opt for a cold brew, a coffee extraction with cold water, of a washed coffee from El Salvador ( the other option was another washed Arabica from Kenya ) : its main characteristics are sweetness, candied fruits taste and perfect balance.
Once here, I recommend a visit to St Paul’s area, easy to reach on foot from Farringdon, and from here take the road that leads to the Strand where , passing through St Mary- le- Strand, you arrive at one of the most elegant buildings of the town center, Somerset House.
Inside you can find one of the four Fernandez & Wells shops where you can choose between a large selection of craft beers, fine wines and snacks and an excellent coffee as well.