TAP, or Tapped and Packed as was, is a chain of three coffee shops (now four) in central London. The Tottenham Court Road branch was the first one I tried: I was there in February and again in April. Although TAP was packed (pun intended) and busy both times, I found it a lovely place to sit and chill for a while. I like its look and feel and love many of the little touches, such as the re-use of Black Treacle tins for sugar and jam jars for water. Milk for your filter coffee comes in dinky little glass flasks. Such small things please me.
TAP’s reputation is built on its coffee, particularly its single-origin beans which are rotated on a regular basis (perversely I had espresso; I know, I confuse myself at times). It also does a range of food and cake. Bizarrely, since I was there late on a Wednesday evening for my first visit when all the food was gone, I was told off by the staff and made to promise to come back at lunch time (which I did) so that I could see what else was on offer. You have to admire such passionate employees!
December 2017: TAP has been bought by the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs chain. I don’t know what this will mean for TAP and whether it will retain its own unique character, so watch this space!
June 2021: I’ve learnt that TAP on Tottenham Court Road has been closed. It now looks like the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs has closed all the TAP stores it bought, along with almost all its own coffee shops and other acquisitions.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
TAP is a masterpiece of branding, which is surprising given the confusion surrounding the name: I first knew it as Tapped and Packed (and plenty of people still call it that). However, it’s now been shortened to the acronym TAP, although you’re hard-pressed to find even that in any of the three branches.
Name recognition/confusion extends to the branches themselves: whereas it’s common to refer to branches by street names, TAP goes by number, so Tottenham Court Road is 114, the original on Rathbone Place is 26 and the new headquarters on Wardour Street is known as 193. Despite this potential for confusion, the strategy works well. Whereas others go to great lengths to obtain name recognition, TAP succeeds with its trademark (I think with a small t) bicycle hanging over the door of each branch and a look and feel that is instantly recognisable, even from the outside.
This look is bare wood floors with simple wooden counters, tables and benches, which 114 does to perfection. 114 stands on the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Midford Place and is effectively square. Although small, the ceiling-to-floor windows on two sides and clever use of mirrors give it a spacious feel as well as making it light and airy.
You enter through the door on the corner, with tables running left and right along the windows, with fixed benches for seating. There are eight two-person tables and, if everyone squeezes up, you might fit six more people in. Opposite is the cake/lunch counter on the right, with the espresso machine and a set of V60s filters on the left. Finally, in the middle of the room, is what looks like a tree-trunk being used as a cutlery stand.
TAP has a reputation for coffee excellence and it’s easy to see why. There’s a cut-down range of espresso-based drinks (espresso and black at £2; Flat White, Latte, Cappuccino at £2.50) which makes a refreshing change, with three single-origin beans on regular rotation (Rwanda, Kenya and Guatemala on my first visit; Columbian and two Ethiopians on my return). All are made using a V60 filter and are available to buy. Tea drinkers aren’t overlooked with a choice of Black Teas, White/Green Teas and Herbal Infusions.
You’ll have to wait for my post on 193 to find out what I think of the single-origin beans since I had a single espresso on both my visits. This came in a classic black cup and saucer, along with a glass of what I believe to be Oolong tea as a palate cleanser (whatever it was, it worked well). Given the lighting, the black cup was annoyingly hard to photograph, which was part of my reason for ordering another on my return (if you’re wondering, I can confirm that the cups are much easier to photograph in the afternoon). The other reason was that I wasn’t that impressed with my first espresso and wanted to give it another go. I was much happier the second time around, but it’s still not really to my taste, being quite sweet and fruity.
TAP’s food is all made in the purpose-built kitchen at 193. There are sandwiches, quiche, salad and soup with a small range of tasty-looking cakes which I’ve yet to properly sample.
|114 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD • LONDON • W1T 5AH|
|Monday||07:30 – 19:00||Roaster||TAP (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 19:00||Seating||Tables with Benches, Benches Outside|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 19:00||Food||Sandwiches, Salads, Cake|
|Thursday||07:30 – 19:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 19:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||10:00 – 18:00||Wifi||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||16th January, 11th April 2013|
You can also see what I made of the new TAP branch on Russell Square which opened in the summer of 2017 (and which has subsequently closed following TAP’s acquisition by the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs).
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