TAP, 193 Wardour Street

The trademark (with a small t) bicycle hanging above the door at No 193 Wardour StreetTAP (Tapped and Packed as was) is a chain of three central London coffee shops. I featured No 114 (Tottenham Court Road) earlier this year and thought it was time for another, the flagship No 193 on Wardour Street. TAP’s reputation is built on its coffee, all roasted in the Probat at the back of No 193. If you want to see it in action, you’ll need to visit on Tuesday (which, ironically, I’ve never managed).

TAP regularly rotates its coffee, having no house blend. At the moment there are two espressos, a blend (for milk) and a single estate (to have black). There are three single origins on the V60 filter: a Guatemalan, an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and a Rwandan Musasa Ruli.

As well as the attraction of watching the coffee roasting, No 193 is a lovely place to sit and drink said coffee. It’s the largest of the three, long and thin, but well-lit by a generous supply of windows. Inside it’s all wood, with bare floorboards and white-washed walls. The only exception is the coffee counter which is metal (albeit with a wooden top). The atmosphere is rounded off with quiet music and the gentle hum of conversation.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • No 193, Wardour Street. Look very carefully: there's a little TAP logo in the window.
  • The view through the front window.
  • The trademark bicycle above the door.
  • Inside, you are greeted by the counter. Helpful arrows point towards the coffee menu.
  • The view down the store.
  • The counter, as seen from the other side.
  • If you don't want to venture too far inside, there's a little bar opposite the counter.
  • Immediately beyond the bar is the coffee counter.
  • You can perch at the far end by the filter rack to watch your coffee being made.
  • Or you can sit at one of the high tables opposite.
  • The main seating is at the back.
  • The view looking the other way. The skylights & windows provide plenty of light.
  • An arty shot of all the tables in a row.
  • Sacks of green beans waiting to be roasted the following day.
  • And the roaster itself. Come along on Tuesday if you want to see it in action.
  • No 193 is full of neat little feaures such as this tree-stump table.
  • And these tiles on the way in.
  • Another neat feature: the Wifi code is written on the other side of this toy van. But look, it's the only other place I could find the letters 'TAP'.
  • Check out the number plate.
  • I should have asked what this is and whether they use it...
  • There is a lot of coffee equipment for sale...
  • Talking of which, here's the current crop of coffee...
  • And in more detail: the espresso...
  • ... and the filter.
  • You can also buy the beans and take them home with you.
  • There is also food...
  • And cake. Lots of cake.
  • In the end I went for a filter, which is made on this neat filter rack.
  • And here it is, a lovely Guatemalan
  • I also had this very tasty red pepper and hummus sandwich.
  • It's not just coffee; there is also tea. Not for me, you understand!
  • However, it really is about the coffee. Here's the espresso machine.
  • The business end of the espresso machine.
  • I like the ordering system: orders are placed on the frame over the espresso machine.
  • Three grinders, three beans. I'm guessing the blend, the single estate and a decaf.
  • Weights and extraction times/weights are chalked up every day.
  • Warning! Barista in action: disturb at your peril!
  • Lovely extraction!
  • Milk frothing...
  • The barista cracks a smile: I think it's the one that says 'is he STILL taking pictures of me?'
  • However, soon the look of intent concentration returns.
  • Poetry in motion.
  • More latte art in the making.
  • The initial pour is over. Now for the fine detail.
  • I think I know what's missing from my latte art technique: I can't get my little finger position right!
  • Putting the finishing touches...
  • What a lovely tulip!
  • The finished article.
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The great thing about TAP is that, as a brand, it’s cracked it. I wrote about this when I was at No 114. Although you’ll struggle to see the name TAP anywhere in the shop (I spotted it three times and I was looking!), No 193 is instantly recognisable as a branch of TAP, from the trademark bicycle above the door through to the interior fittings.

No 193 is the most recent TAP and might have the largest ratio of length to width of any coffee shop I’ve visited. Yes, I know, I notice things like this. Sorry. This is in stark contrast to No 114 (it’s square), and yet the similarities are striking: the same furniture, same colour scheme, same pedestal with takeaway bits and pieces, same filter rack, same black treacle tins on the tables holding the sugar. The only differences are in the layout and the minor detail that No 193 has a coffee roaster at the back!

Unlike No 114, where the espresso machine and counter are about as far away from the door as you can get, at No 193, they’re the first things you come across, something that’s dictated by the narrowness of the store. However, like No 114, the counter and espresso machine/filter rack are physically separate, creating a clear distinction between ordering and collection points.

In the case of No 193, the counter, laden with cakes and sandwiches, is on the right as you come in. Opposite this is a little bar against the wall, with a bench squeezed in between counter and window. Next comes a small row of high tables on the right and, opposite them, the espresso machine and filter rack.

Beyond that the store stretches away to the Probat roaster at the back. Along with Workshop in Clerkenwell, Cirencester’s Rave Coffee and Small Batch in Hove, it’s one of the shortest roaster-to-cup paths in the land. The main seating is here: two long rows of tables with benches against the walls and smaller, one/two person benches down the middle. Finally a couple of stools sit in front of the filter rack so you can perch and watch your coffee being made. All the furniture is bolted to the floor. Don’t walk into any of it; there’s no give at all (I know, I tried).

Despite being long and thin, No 193 is well-lit by a generous wall-to-ceiling window at the front, and skylights and side windows at the back. This is supplemented by low-hanging lights, one per table, which are just high enough not to be annoying. These hang from a metal rail which itself hangs from the ceiling. For some reason I really like them (more than I usually like strange lighting!).

I’ve had various filter coffees during several visits to No 193 and all of them have been excellent. This time I had an El Triunfo from Guatemala, a comparatively unadventurous coffee, described on the tasting notes as a “perfectly well-rounded morning coffee”. It was just as described: very smooth, good body and nothing too challenging to start my day. Since it was lunchtime, I also had a red pepper and hummus sandwich which was very fine and not too spicy (which sometimes can be an issue, particularly if you are having it with coffee!).

193 WARDOUR STREET • LONDON • W1F 8ZF
www.tapcoffee.co.uk
Monday 08:00 – 19:00 Roaster TAP (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 19:00 Seating Tables with Benches, Bar, Bench Outside
Wednesday 08:00 – 19:00 Food Sandwiches, Salads, Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 19:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 19:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa (£0.40 charge under £5)
Saturday 10:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 11:00 – 18:00 Power No
Chain Local Visits 9th December 2013

You can also see what I made of the new TAP branch on Russell Square which opened in the summer of 2017.


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12 thoughts on “TAP, 193 Wardour Street

  1. This meant a quick revisit to 114 and you know, I think I’d settle there. Maybe a bit too busy and perhaps the lemon and chocolate tart could use a few tweaks but…that tree stump!
    A truly ‘blinging’ roaster at the main headquarters indeed.
    (Best not mention the Cakeage, eh?)

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  4. I know what you mean when you say “No 193 is instantly recognisable as a branch of TAP”.
    Back in November I was visiting my sister and went into central London to see some friends and asked her for a coffee recommendation. She’d been to TAP on Tottenham Court Road she thought. When I googled it 193 Wardour St was the top result and she hypothesised it might be a moving pop-up. When I got to 193 I thought I recognised it from the coffee spot and was pleased that I’d inadvertantly followed two recommendations. It was only later that I realised that you’d posted the other branch and that in fact it was a small chain.
    Anyway, hurrah for TAP!

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