coffee : 1st ed
I love coffee. ● yes, I know I am British and I should love tea, because that's all British people do - sit around in our perfectly manicured gardens, sipping on the finest teas, gossiping about the Royal family and the weather. Don't get me wrong, I am partial to a good cuppa, but I am undoubtedly a coffee girl - coffee is in my veins.
Growing up, I remember doing the odd jobs for pops-chops and family friends so that I could earn an extra bit of pocket money - mostly so I could buy £4 singles by Hanson, Justin Timberpants, and Craig David at Virgin Megastore at the weekends (we all have our kicks guys, don't judge). I did anything from weeding the garden (mmm convolvulus), to stuffing envelopes with magazines, to babysitting - but the job I ended up going back to over-and-over again was being the "coffee girl" at Banner's restaurant in Crouch End. So between the ages of 16 and 18, every Saturday and during school holidays I would get my coffee-making and washing-up skills on. During this time, I probably made thousands of cups of coffee - filter, cappuccino, latte, espresso, iced coffee, and the yummy-mummy's favourite: the babyccino - "what the hell is that?" I hear you ask. Well my friends, it's essentially warm milk with a little honey, topped with milk foam, and sprinkled with cocoa powder - because while yummy mummy or daddy is drinking their grown-up cappuccinos, it's only fair that baby/toddler/tiny person gets a babyccino too, ya know, standard chat.
Anyway, to be a "coffee girl" I had to get proper training because Banner's is not just a builders' caff at the end of your road, no no - Banner's make coffee that tastes great (and it still does by the way, just not as good as when I worked there but whatever, no judgment). Training included learning about coffee types, the right temperature to create frothy milk, the correct coffee to milk ratio for each type of coffee (a cappuccino and a latte are very different you know), and the correct mug-ware to serve the coffees in. It was a proper one whole hour of training and then supervision for a month or something (I can't remember anymore but basically it was serious stuff which my 16 year old self was very appreciative of, thank you Banners). The point I'm trying to make is, this is not uncommon - most coffee chains do this, train and let loose - Banner's is not unique. The result being I ended up understanding and really enjoying coffee. My parents also loved coffee, so it was a no brainer really - "coffee girl" became COFFEE WOMAN.
This then got me thinking: those of you who also love coffee (you know who you are) always ask me where I get my trendy cups (now Keepcup because #TheQueenSaysNoToPlastics) of coffee from when I'm out and about in London. Well my friends, I will let you in on a secret: it is many, many places. You may have to travel, you may have to explore, but the coffee at the end of the adventure will tickle your cockles (I don't really know what this phrase means but I've always wanted to use it somewhere so enjoy).
☕ Seven Special Places in London for: COFFEE
One: La Fromagerie 🧀 ● locations: Highbury, Marylebone + Bloomsbury
I completely adore this place. It is pretty much my dream spot because first and foremost, it has a cheese room. That's right people, a cheese room - full of delicious, delicious cheese for your face (even for the vegans amongst you - yes, there is a range of vegan cheese where no animals were harmed in the making of them). Secondly, it is super French and super cute - this means great chat, great cakes, and great bread (yes, there are baguettes and they are the bomdigetty). So to top that all off with a stellar cup of java is just icing on the cake - giving this spot the number one gold star on my list of current favourites. Oh La-La Fromagerie, take all of my money <3
Two: TY 🌲 ● location: Covent Garden
This spot has a close place to my heart because it is 1) where I used to hide in amongst the hustle and bustle of the centre of London and 2) where I got to know my dance-babes aka funk-sisters collective. It is a great place to work (it's always full of laptop-millennials), it's a great place to have a chinwag (comfy sofas and armchairs galore), and to top that off the coffee is delish - they make my favourite iced coffee (of ma current top seven) and they make coffees with non-cow milk so my babe HayHay can also enjoy it. Bonus. In the last few months though, I've stopped sitting in - take-out only now babes - for a few reasons: they've added more "desk space" on the ground floor so laptopers are happy but I find it too cramped and intense, it's getting even harder to find a nook to sit in (one time we sat in the corridor, it was awkward), and the food isn't as good as it used to be - though the new banana-bread with fruit and creme-fraiche is da bomdiggety, I cannot lie. Oh TY, stay classy yeah <3
Three: Fink's Salt & Sweet 🎂 ● location: Finsbury Park
Oh my. Another place close to my heart. This spot I do hide in a lot (and they know it - sorry Mat haha) - I have my favourite spot (not telling y'all but it's good for creeping) and I have my favourite drink (a mean latte that makes my cockles happy - can I use cockles here?!) and my favourite brunch dish (apple cinnamon toast made with the magical challah - I mean: *cries with happiness*). Literally, this place can do no wrong. It's also filled with great customers who also have the cutest dogs and most excellent beards. What's not to like. And to top it off, they also hosted a private family dinner for me for my 30th birthday last November and it was one of the most glorious evenings I could have dreamed of. Oh Fink's, challah make me so happy <3
Four: Brill 🎣 ● location: Exmouth Market (no website #oldskool)
Firstly, if you don't know Exmouth Market then get to know. Secondly, I am about to reveal one of my secret hiding places which I kind of don't want to do because I want these lovely people all to myself but that's just mean because I also want them to be successful and make lots and lots of moniesss so they can stay open and fulfil my coffee/bagel dreams. *And breathe* Why do I love this place so much? Because the atmosphere is the most chill and fun I've ever drunk coffee in - the staff are beyond lovely, the music they play is always on point, and their customers are like friends (who they actually like, know, and like, talk to, about their lives and stuff - wow, service like that in London?! who'd have thought it). They also make the best bagels in town - yep, I said it, I'm putting it out there, I'm sure there are other awesome bagel places in London but Brill genuinely make BRILL BAGELS *drools* - my go-to favourite is the salmon and cream cheese... and the bagel is waaarrrmmm. And last but not least, hands-down some of the best cups of coffee I've had in London - never fails to satisfy my caffeine-addicted face. Oh Brill, you lovely lot <3
Five: Grind 🍸 ● locations: many, many places (clicks da links)
I'm not going to lie, the first time I saw a Grind I giggled - because I am just adult like that. I went in purely because I wanted to be able to say: mmm I'm getting ma grind on gurl (to a pal on the phone). I also didn't know that Grind was a mini-chain so when I found this out I was very pleased with them - good work team Grind. Of my top seven, this place has the best ability to make coffee a morning, day, and night crutch for us caffeine-lovers. They make an amazing brunch (the full veggie breakfast is tasty AF), tasty lunch and dinner tapas-style (the wild mushroom bruschetta with ricotta is off-the-heezy), and they make one mean espresso martini which I would even go and say might be the best in London. Basically, like all the other places on here - if you don't know, get to know. And their actual coffees are deeelish as well. Oh Grind, imma grind on you all day gurl <3
Six: TAP coffee 🍌 ● locations: Rathbone Place, Tottenham Court Road + Wardour Street
I was recommended TAP coffee by one of my good pals: the Samosa Spectator aka working-in-coffee-shops connoisseur Mr. Asad Dundundunnn. He said: I think you will love TAP. And do you know what? This man was correct-amundo. First off, it is always full of trendy people who I want to ask where they got their clothes, and bags, and kicks (shoes not kinky stuff) from. Second, they offer one of the best breakfast spreads a girl could wish for - I met my pal Jemma in TAP for a breakfast date once and we were both in breakfast heaven, and healthy options too - bonus. Finally, the coffee is yummy and never fails to be anything other than, so all in all - another winner. Oh TAP, I wanna tap that <3
Seven: Allpress Espresso 🏄 ● locations: Dalston + Shoreditch (they service lots of independents too)
Alright alright, it's the moment you've all been waiting for. Who's got the last spot? Well, I couldn't have gone through a whole post about coffee without venturing into hipster-land aka Dalston. Ironically, this was another recommendation from a pal - Mr. Ramin Mogamog (I do have girl pals who love coffee too but they don't seem to like to share their secret places with me so hence all of the boys recos innit) - who happens to be one of the biggest hipsters known to London-town (he will deny this, but all of us who know him will agree with me because I am always right). So why, of all the great coffee spots I've been to, does this guy deserve the last spot? Well, like all hipster places: Allpress Espresso is an expeeerience - where you can cover all of your senses and face in the world of coffee. I can see you laugh but this is a very true story - Allpress Espresso is a coffee spot all about "human connection" (you can read all about it here) and they have created their own unique way of roasting coffee called Allpress Hot Air Roasting (this is a real thing). The Dalston spot actually houses their giant Hot Air Roasters so you can sip coffee while watching these masters of coffee in action. And to add to all that, the food is great and the coffee (as you'd expect given how much effort they put into your cup o' java) is phenoms. Oh Allpress, thank you my favourite hipsters <3
🏡 And that's it. For now. There are so many other places I could have mentioned (Workshop Coffee, Bar Termini, Fabrique, Maison D'Etre, Caravan... the list has an end but I am tired of writing now so seven special places is all you guys are getting today). On a side note, although I do practically live in these coffee spots all year around, I am very lucky to have been presented a Nespresso machine a few years ago for Christmas because pops-chops knows how much I love the stuff - so, a cup o' coffee in on the sofa is just as good as a cup o' coffee in any one of my favourite hideouts. Happy caffeinating yo'selves team. Oh, and don't forget your Keepcups.
🙆 See y'all soon!