Dunne Frankowski at Sharps

The A-board, proudly announcing the Dunne Frankowski Coffee Bar's collaboration with F.A.T: "Sandwiches, Pickles & Ice Cream"Sitting on Windmill Street and occupying the front half of a barbers shop, Dunne Frankowski at Sharps represents the latest venture for London coffee legends Rob Dunne and Victor Frankowski, perhaps best known for their London coffee shop, Protein. From the street, the shop’s branding is that of upmarket barbers, Sharps, although the A-board proclaiming “Dunne Frankowski Coffee Bar” is a bit of a giveaway. That, and the extremely good-looking Spirit Triplette from Dutch espresso-machine wizards Kees van der Westen which is plainly visible through the window!

Stepping inside, the focus is very clearly on the coffee, with Dunne Frankowski offering various options, including espresso from the aforementioned Triplette and filter coffee through an Aeropress or a more conventional filter machine. As is the fashion in quite a few speciality coffee shops these days, the beans are regularly rotated, with no particular house blend to fall back on.

As well as coffee, Dunne Frankowski has a limited food and cake menu, again on a guest basis, although in this case the suppliers change less frequently. Since opening a few months ago, food has been from F•A•T, with cakes from Violet, although I’ve been told that these are changing fairly soon.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Sharps Barbers or Dunne Frankowski Coffee Bar?
  • Well, that's cleared that up!
  • Or has it?
  • Stepping inside, clearly a coffee bar...
  • ... or maybe a barbers.
  • Definitely looks like a barbers...
  • However, turn around and it's a coffee bar!
  • I think I need to sit down! Here?
  • Or here?
  • Regardless of where I sit, my eye is drawn to this beauty from Kees van der Westen
  • Although the cake's pretty eye-catching too.
  • The sign says 'Cinnamon Buns'. But where?
  • Relax! I found them!
  • This place is full of nice touches, like this shelf for the water bottles.
  • I liked the sinks too.
  • And the light bulbs...
  • Right. To business. Except that's the takeaway menu...
  • Although it looks surprisingly like the drink-in menu. I like the look of the tasting sets.
  • Talking of menus, let's not forget Sharps!
  • If you do forget, though, there's a barber's chair at the back to remind you...
  • Anyway, enough of this frivolity. There's someone I need to meet...
  • Precision coffee making in action.
  • Look at that pour...
  • Almost done.
  • An interesting twist; classic black saucer, but white, handless cup.
  • I've struggled with Red Brick in the past, but I quite liked its current incarnation.
  • There's also coffee with milk. Here TJ does some steaming...
  • Et voila!
  • However, that wasn't for me. I'd gone for the espresso/filter combo. This filter to be precise.
  • Neat grinder!
  • Having experimented with the Red Brick, I went safe with this one.
  • The filter machine dispenses into this vacuum pot...
  • Then it goes into the pouring jug...
  • And then into a carafe for serving.
  • Poured and ready to go...
  • I know what would go well with that: a cinnamon bun!
  • Look at that structure: quite lovely, almost up to the gold standard (Hart's Bakery in Bristol, since you asked)
  • I know this looks the same, but it's actually an Aeropress filter I had on my previous visit.
  • I leave you with this interesting gadget for measuring the total disolved coffee in the final drink...
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Coffee shops joint-ventures are nothing new: take, for example, the original Taylor Street Baristas in Brighton, which opened inside a travel agent. More recently there’s Ace Hotel’s collaborations with Stumptown in the US and over here with Shoreditch’s Bulldog Edition with Square Mile, plus Small Batch Coffee’s branch in Brighton’s Myhotel. Perhaps most relevant to the case-in-hand is Bristol’s Wild at Heart, a speciality coffee shop combined with hair and beauty.

Now there’s Dunne Frankowski in collaboration with Sharps Barbers, coffee at the front, barbers at the back. The two are fairly distinct, the barbers separated by a wood and glass partition with an open doorway, which gives it its own distinct space without being cut off entirely. The coffee bar is best described as sparse, dominated by the large counter on your left as you enter. Seating is limited: three benches outside, a five-seat window-bar and four low tables with slatted wooden benches opposite the counter.

The counter is split in two, coffee at the front, cake/food at the back. It too is sparse and uncluttered, reminiscent of Talkhouse Coffee. The area around the counter/window is tiled, while the rest of the coffee bar has plain, white-washed walls and a wooden floor, all in stark contrast to the barbers which is a much warmer, visually busy space.

There’s nothing in the décor to distract from the coffee. As if to emphasize that point, pride of place goes to Spirit Triplette espresso machine sitting on the end of the counter, facing the window. Not only a visual draw, this means that when ordering at the counter, you can watch the barista at work rather than being hidden behind the bulk of the espresso machine. Not that this beauty has much in the way bulk: it has the low-slung, low-profile looks of a Formula 1 car. Ironic then that it was being manned by TJ, who, at 6’4”, is one of the tallest baristas I know (although on my first visit, Rob Dunne was there, a more suitable height for the machine).

Dunne Frankowski offers tasting menus, allowing you to compare/contrast different aspects of coffee (eg espresso vs cappuccino). I went for the espresso/filter option, coupling a pair of Square Mile offerings: Red Brick for espresso and Genesis Naranjo from Costa Rica on filter.

I’ve become so used to “filter” coffee meaning Aeropress/pour-over that I was quite surprised when TJ started making it in a filter machine! However, this is no common filter machine. For a start, it sprays the water onto the coffee grounds rather than dripping it, while the coffee filters through into a thermal flask as opposed to keeping it warm on a hot-plate. Suffice to say I enjoyed my coffee, continuing the rehabilitation of filter coffee which started at Store Street Espresso. Make no mistake, this is as individually brewed as an Aeropress or V60 and a far cry from the bulk-brewed, over-stewed muck that gave filter such a bad name.

I also enjoyed my espresso. I’ve struggled with Red Brick in the past, but not so this one. It’s a seasonal blend, so it will have changed since I last had it, but I’m sure my palette’s also evolved.  It’s still not my espresso of choice, but I’m no longer pulling faces when I drink it!

9 WINDMILL STREET • LONDON • W1T 2JF
www.dunnefrankowski.com +44 (0) 20 7637 1040
Monday 08:00 – 18:00 Seating Benches, Window Bar, Bench Outside
Tuesday 08:00 – 18:00 Food Sandwiches, Cake
Wednesday 08:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Thursday 08:00 – 18:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Friday 08:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free
Saturday 10:00 – 17:00 Power Limited
Sunday 10:00 – 17:00 Mobile 3G, Voice
Chain No Visits 25th October, 30th November 2013

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