[Homeroast] One Californian's espresso crawl through London

Greg Hollrigel ghollrigel at gmail.com
Sun Sep 19 14:54:34 CDT 2010


Not to derail the Homeland Security Thread ... I thought I would provide
some comments on some coffee shops I sampled recently in London, England,
just in case any of you London travellers are looking for recommendations.

I spent last week there and got to sample some very fine coffees, in my
opinion.

I went to 4 shops:  The Espresso Room, Nude Espresso, Dose, and Monmouth
Covent Gardens.  I tried to make it to Prufrock Coffee, but alas, my
schedule didn't allow me to get there, and my legs were tired.

The Espresso Room and Monmouth Covent Gardens are near Covent Gardens and
Russel Square (in what I consider the western side of Central London).  Dose
and Nude Espresso are in or near the City of London (towards the Eastern
side).

Personally, I can recommend each of these shops.  The coffee was great and
the baristas and staff were super friendly.  The baked goods at some were
fantastic.  I would say that Dose and The Espresso Room are similar in that
they are very small shops that seem best suited for take-away.  They also
only take cash.  Monmouth and Nude were similar in providing much more
seating and what looked like "home-baked" bakery.

At Dose, I had a double espresso and a flat white.  I can't always taste
subtle nuances, but both were very good.  The funny thing was is that they
also serve regular coffee made by Aeropress.  That is the first, and only,
time that I've seen Aeropress served in a commercial setting.  I sat outside
with my colleague who enjoyed a chai tea.  I think Aeropress service may be
more of a European occurrence, in addition to my hotel rooms ;-).

At The Espresso Room, I had a single espresso and a capuccino, the first
day, and a flat white the second.  The espresso was interesting in that
instead of being served in a ceramic/porcelain demitasse, it was served in a
small glass "honey jar".  It also appeared to me to only be about a 15 ml
shot.  The espresso was their summer blend V2, which I believe is roasted by
Has Bean Coffee.  I didn't ask about their shot volumes due to me already
running out of energy from the flight, but it was interesting.  My first
impression was that the shot did not seem to have a lot of body/mouthfeel
for the first half (7.5 mL !  LoL), but the last bit was incredibly fruity,
which caused me to change my entire impression of the shot, and give it a
Hollrigel thumbs up.  :-)  I picked up a bag of  El Salvadore Finca La Fany,
and will be playing with that at home over the next several days.

I made 2 visits to Monmouth since it was closer to some of my meetings.  The
first day was an espresso and a flat white for take away since the shop was
packed.  The espresso was great for my tastes, lots of chocolate and body,
and super smooth.  Picked up a bag of their espresso blend.  The second day,
I had a pour over Guatemala and a pour over Sumatra, and another flat
white.  Just overall great coffee.  Every single drink was full of flavor,
smooth, and nothing to complain about.  Also, the brioche was out of this
world.

Although Monmouth is very high on my list, I think I'm going to have to give
a slight nudge to Nude Espresso.  I ended up walking 2.5 miles to the shop
and then 2.5 miles back, all before my first meeting in the morning.  I got
lost in the City of London a bit trying to follow streets, and went through
some interesting neighborhoods, and was just about ready to give up when I
found Hanbury St, where it is located.  It's fun people watching all the
different folks going to work in a big city (somewhat similar to San
Francisco, but I like the international/European feel of London), especially
for someone who lives in a relatively small beach town in suburbia.  The
shop had plenty of seating and seemed similar in size as Monmouth.  I got a
double espresso, a flat white, and an americano.  The espresso, much like
Monmouth, was right up my alley - chocolaty, with lots of body and creamy
smooth.  The barista made a perfect flat white with very creamy silky smooth
microfoam.  The Americano was good, but I think they're not really my
drink.  I just loved the whole atmosphere of this shop, and talking to the
2  baristas was great.  They even gave me directions to their roastery if I
had time to talk shop with the roasters.  I was going to go the next day,
but my schedule got messed up, and I didn't make it.  Next time for sure.  I
bought a bag of their East espresso blend, and have pulled shots at home
this morning and yesterday.  Just very very good.  I love this coffee.  To
make this home-roasting related, this is the goal that I strive for with my
home-roasting ... my quest continues.  Oh, I also got a fresh berry scone
for my journey back to the other side of London, and that scone was to die
for.  Wow!

So any travellers going to London, put these shops on your list of places to
go.  They are all great, but my favorites so far are Nude and Monmouth.

For those of you familiar with Gwilym Davies' "dis-loyalty card", you might
recognize these shops as being part of that.  Well they are (except for
Monmouth), and that is how I found out about them.  So next on my list is
Prufrock, Pitch 42, Climpson & Sons, Taylor St. Baristas, Taste of Bitter
Lover, and Tina, we salute you.  :-)

The next week or so is going to be heavily caffeinated as I play with the
new flavors and these beans.

Cheers to good coffee, friendly baristas, and home-roasting as Autumn comes
around the corner.

Greg


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