For a while now, I’ve been describing Bean About Town’s Coffee Van at the Real Food Market at London’s South Bank Centre as my favourite coffee cart/van/barrow/stall. While the coffee is excellent and I like Bean About Town in general, an awful lot of this has to do with Claire, the French barista who runs the South Bank van on Fridays and at the weekend. For the rest of the week, Claire can be found at Bean About Town’s coffee barrow at Kentish Town. Or so I was told.
This is the story of how I made the long, long journey to Kentish town (four stops on the Northern Line, Charing Cross Branch, heading north from Euston) only to find that Claire had grown a beard and changed her name to Rory… Either that or I’d missed her shift by a couple of hours… I’ll let you decide…
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Ever since I wrote about Claire’s Citroën van, I’ve been promising to pay her a visit at her other location, Kentish Town. Months came, months went, and still I hadn’t been. Then I saw Claire two Friday’s running and she threatened to hunt me down if I didn’t visit soon. So, when I found myself with time on my hands and a travel card in my pocket the following Monday afternoon, I decided to pay her a surprise visit.
The Kentish Town pitch is right outside the station, which the underground shares with the overground lines coming out of St Pancras. Immediately north of the station, the Bean About Town barrow is pretty much a fixed installation, occupying a spot under a glass canopy on the bridge over the Midland Main Line. I imagine that when it’s raining or bitterly cold, it can be a bit of a forlorn, windswept place, but while I was there, the sun was out and it was quite jolly.
Claire, however, was somewhat different from how I remembered her, sporting dark curly hair and a beard, quite a change since Friday! It turned out she’d been there that morning and I’d missed her by a couple of hours. Instead, I had Rory, who, once he’d gotten over the disadvantage of not being Claire, turned out to be a thoroughly decent fellow who I soon warmed to.
We chatted for about 20 minutes, during which time he made me an excellent latte and served several customers, including both regulars and newcomers such as myself. It was clear that he cared just as passionately about the barrow as Claire did and was every bit as knowledgeable about his coffee.
The Kentish Town barrow has a similar offering to the South Bank one: the usual espresso-based range, supplemented with tea and hot chocolate and giant cookies for when you get peckish. You can also have decaf, with the beans ground on demand (I’d tried the Bean About Town decaf for the first time the previous Friday and although not quite as good as the regular, it made a pretty decent espresso).
Kentish Town currently has a semi-automatic La Marzocco, although Rory told me that he was hoping to get the old lever machine back, which he said he preferred, since it gave him more control over the coffee. Now there’s a real barista talking!
|KENTISH TOWN ROAD • LONDON • NW5 2AA|
|www.beanabouttown.com||+44 (0) 20 3239 6432|
|Monday||07:00 – 16:00||Seating||N/A|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 16:00||Food||Cookies|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 16:00||Service||Counter|
|Thursday||07:00 – 16:00||Cards||Cash Only|
|Friday||07:00 – 16:00||Wifi||N/A|
|Saturday||09:00 – 16:00||Power||N/A|
|Sunday||10:00 – 16:00||Mobile||3G, Voice|
|Chain||Local||Visits||19th August 2013|
You can also see what my fellow coffee-blogger, Liquidjolt, makes of the Kentish Town Bean About Town cart.
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