I first came across L.A. Burdick exactly three years ago after a tip-off from a friend in Cambridge (Massachusetts, not UK). I tried the branch there and loved it, but was a little put off by how busy it was. Even late on a weekday afternoon, I still had to wait 20 minutes for a table, such was its popularity!
On my trip to Boston a year ago, I learnt that there was a branch on Clarendon Street in Back Bay, around 10 minutes from my hotel. Although excited, I nevertheless approached it with some trepidation, expecting crowds. However, I needn’t have worried: it was an oasis of tranquillity in comparison. It might have helped that it was gone six o’clock on a freezing cold Tuesday evening, but I wasn’t complaining.
The main draw of L.A. Burdick is the hot chocolate and the Back Bay branch is no exception. However, there’s also coffee, tea and a range of cakes and pastries. And, of course, chocolate. L.A. Burdick is definitely at the luxury end of the chocolate market and both prices and décor reflect this, making L.A. Burdick one the more sumptuously-appointed cafés you’ll visit.
At last! Normal service has been resumed. After three straight Coffee Spots visiting places in the correct order, the Coffee Spot returns to form…
Regular readers will know that ever since it opened, Beany Green in Paddington has been my local, since it’s on the other side of the square from my office. I’ve also visited the South Bank branch, a quirky little container at the south end of Hungerford Bridge.
However, until last week, I’d never been to where it all began, the wonderful Daisy Green, parent of all the little Beanies spreading around London. So, on Friday, I took the plunge, forsaking lunch at Beany Green, and made the relatively short walk to Seymour Street, where, just a stone’s throw from Marble Arch and two blocks down from The Borough Barista, I visited Daisy Green.
If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. There’s the same Beany Green goodness that I’m used to: coffee from The Roasting Party, a wide range of innovative food and a selection of Aussie-inspired cakes, all in the same quirky surroundings that make the Paddington branch so wonderful. At the same time, Daisy Green is very much its own place, as you will discover…
What’s going on? For the third Coffee Spot in a row, I’m visiting places in the order in which they opened! Hot on the heels of the original Artisan in Putney and the first Society Café on Bath’s Kingsmead Square, comes Doctor Espresso – Mama V’s in Clapham High Street!
I visited the original Doctor Espresso, Doctor Espresso Caffetteria, opposite Putney Bridge tube station, in the summer of 2013, not long after it had opened. So it seemed fitting that I should pop into Doctor Espresso’s second venture, named Mama V’s (after Vanessa, co-owner of Doctor Espresso) a couple of months after it had opened. Following the precedent set by the Caffetteria, Mama V’s is also right by a station, this time the overground, where it is nestled in an arch under the line by Clapham High Street station.
Mama V’s serves the same basic menu as the Caffetteria: coffee, cake and some lovely Italian food (panini, calzone, pizza, pasta & salad). If ever a place was designed to appeal to me, it’s Doctor Espresso’s. Pride of place, of course, goes to a classic 1957 Gaggia Tipo America lever espresso machine, just one year younger than the one in the Caffetteria!
Fondation, situated near the northern edge of the Marais, not far from Place de République, is a tiny place, where the outside seating, on the quiet rue Dupetit-Thouars, out numbers the seating inside.
Fondation is one of the new breed of French cafés that have sprung up around the capital in the last few years. It takes some of its inspiration from nearby Ten Belles, drawing in a mainly ex-pat crowd, which perhaps explains why it’s one of the few Parisian cafés to stay open in August. In style and feel, Fondation wouldn’t be out of place in London or New York, although it uses local roasters, Belleville.
There’s not much food, just a small, but impressive selection of cakes and pastries on offer, although again the choice is more slanted to British/American tastes than traditional French patisserie. Unusually you order at the counter, but pay when you leave.
What’s going on? For the second time in a week I’ve visited a local chain and started with the first branch! This time, instead of going to Bath, I’ve popped up to Putney and the lovely Artisan. And, unlikely rainy Bath, it’s always sunny when I go to Putney. I really should come more often.
My first visit was on a busy Saturday afternoon in March last year, when I didn’t have my camera with me. Back then it was so busy that the queue waiting to order was all the way back to the door! Tables were at a premium and several people were sitting outside in the sun.
I’ve been meaning to return ever since and finally made it back with my camera 11 months later, when I returned on a Tuesday lunchtime, only to find it was almost as popular. Tables being at a premium again, I ended up in exactly the same spot, a little table for two by the door to the toilets!
Artisan serves up Allpress’ Redchurch blend on espresso, and these days has Berlin legends, The Barn, on filter, with regularly-rotating single origins. There’s an impressive range of cake and food too.
There’s no Wednesday Archive Spot today. Instead, here’s a quick plea about the Hope & Glory UK Coffee Survey. The nice people at Hope & Glory are running a UK coffee survey and everyone who fills it out will be entered into a prize draw to win some coffee. A year’s supply of coffee, if I’ve read things correctly. Now, I’ve already completed the survey, which means that for every additional person who fills it out, my chances of winning are diluted. And we wouldn’t want that, now would we?
For once I’ve done things the right way round. Regular readers will know that I have a habit of visiting cafés with multiple locations in the wrong order, starting with the most recent, before working my way back to the original. With Bath’s Society Café, I’ve managed to do the original on Kingsmead Square first, with the second, more recent branch, in The Corridor, coming soon.
Society Café occupies a corner spot on the southern edge of Bath’s Kingsmead Square, surely the city’s café capital. Everywhere you look, there are cafés, including, on the opposite side of the square, the Boston Tea Party. Like the Tea Party, Society Café has a large outdoor seating area spilling out onto the square. It would make the perfect place to sit sipping your coffee if it weren’t for the fact that whenever I go to Bath, it pours with rain. It’s the Manchester of the South West!
Inside, Society Café sprawls (in a nice way) across multiple rooms and over two levels, with a cracking multiple-space basement. With coffee from local roaster Round Hill, and a selection of sandwiches and cake, it’s the perfect place to spend half an hour or all day!
One of the two branches of Coutume which opened between my visits to Paris in 2013 and 2014, Coutume Instituutti is a collaboration with the Finnish Institute. Located on rue des Ecoles, the entrance is around the corner at 33, rue du Sommerard, a stone’s throw from one of my favourite Paris museums, Musee du Moyen Ages (Museum of the Middle Ages). However, during office hours, you can also get to the café through the Institute itself, via its step-free entrance on rue des Ecoles.
Since Coutume’s running the café, all the coffee is roasted by Coutume, with the usual selection on offer. There’s a small, very French, espresso menu, filter through V60 or Chemex, plus cold brew (I visited during the summer of cold brew) and tea. However, Instituutti has a quite un-French system of ordering and paying at the counter, then waiting for your coffee, the first time I’ve seen this in a French café of any sort. Having not been to any Nordic cafés, I can’t tell if this is the Finnish influence at work.
The café itself is a large, sparsely populated space, which, if I allow myself one criticism, can sometimes feel cold and clinical.
Glasgow’s Siempre Bicycle Café continues the long association between cycling and coffee, occupying a multi-facetted space right next to the Kelvinhall Metro station in Glasgow’s West End.
Out front, there’s a cycle shop and sales room, where you can, if you like, sit and take your coffee, while at the back, there’s an equally large room where more typical café seating shares the space with the counter, which itself encloses an open-plan kitchen. If you keep on going, there’s also a large, sheltered garden right at the back. Unless, of course, you’re coming from the station, in which case you reach the garden first, then the café and finally the bike shop. Siempre also has a takeaway window, so you don’t even have to go inside if you don’t want to.
Serving Dear Green Coffee’s Goosedubs blend on espresso, with single origins available as filter from both Dear Green and another local roaster, Charlie Mills, Siempre has got the coffee side of things covered. There’s also an impressive array of tasty-looking cakes, plus a very comprehensive food offering. This being a cycle shop as well as a café, there’s also plenty of secure bicycle storage both inside and out.
The Flying Coffee Bean is a chain of coffee kiosks on stations in the South East. The Guildford one’s been a fixture for several years, but, until recently, I never gave it a second thought. I distinctly remember when, a couple of years before I started the Coffee Spot, I took my coffee (a two-shot latte) back to get an extra shot because all I could taste was milk. The barista didn’t look best pleased, explaining that this was how the customers liked it, at which point I decided to take my custom elsewhere.
Fast forward to six months ago and, for various reasons, I revisited the Flying Coffee Bean. Expecting disappointment, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only could I taste the coffee, it was really nice-tasting coffee too! 12-second extractions were a thing of the past and the milk was steamed so it held decent latte-art.
Consider me converted!