Association Coffee, on Creechurch Lane in the heart of the City of London, joins a very select list of L-shaped coffee shops (from memory, Le Lapin Pressé, The Borough Barista and Darkhorse Espresso), although in fairness to the others, Association actually looks like two shops with the dividing wall knocked through. In theory, that should leave us with a square, but the back half of the second shop has been walled off by a large mirror behind the counter, thus creating the L-shape.
Serving up a variety of Square Mile coffee on espresso and Aeropress, Association is one of those places that I’ve visited a couple of times without ever having the time/opportunity to write it up for the Coffee Spot. So, when I had a couple of hours to kill on the day of the tube strike, I thought it was high time that I rectified this oversight.
Association is also a place I associate with fellow coffee blogger, Kate Beard (aka A Southern Belle in London), since the previous two times I was there, it was to meet up with her. So it was no great surprise when, completely unannounced, she walked in halfway through my visit!
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Wooden floors, white-washed ceilings and bare-brick walls combine to make Association a physically beautiful space. The top of the “L”, to your left as you come in, runs parallel to Creechurch Lane, and the generous windows, coupled with the mirror behind the counter opposite, make for a very bright space. A door and window at the end of the other half of the “L”, add more natural light and at least 20 spotlights mean that, even on a miserable, grey February day, it’s very bright inside. The atmosphere was rounded off by a pleasant background hum of conversation which combined with gentle background music.
If you fancy, you can sit on one of three stools at the brew-bar end of the counter, watching the baristas working on the Aeropresses. Alternatively, there’s a long, communal table between counter and window, and three small, round two-person tables, two to the left of the door, one to the right.
The bottom part of the “L” runs away from you as you come in. The counter wraps around here, holding the espresso machine and its three grinders. Opposite this and extending to the far end of the “L” is the remaining seating: three four-person high tables with equally-high chairs, and a long, thin, high table.
Association serves Square Mile, with Red Brick and Sweet Shop, plus a decaf option, on the espresso machine and three single-origin beans on the Aeropress. I went for the Rwandan, which arrived in a glass carafe, beautifully presented on a wooden tray with a lovely blue tulip cup. The tasting notes promised floral highlights, sweetness and acidity, but its complexity was lost on me. It was, however, a very fine cup of coffee, if a little too exciting for my palette. However, it lost some complexity as it cooled, which is quite rare. Intrigued, I waited until it was almost cold and found it was still a really fulfilling cup, but by then incredibly mellow.
I matched this up with an excellent almond and raspberry frangipane. It was sweet without being sickly, the thick pastry giving it body, while the sharpness of the raspberries countered any remaining sweetness, leaving the almonds to round things off.
After my experience at Sharps, I tried the Red Brick as the flight set (espresso and flat white). It too came beautifully presented on a wooden tray in lovely, light-blue cups. The espresso was incredibly short and much more how I remember Red Brick from a year ago, when I found it way too bright for my palette. As is often the case when I dislike the straight espresso, I find I like it much better with milk, although the coffee didn’t quite come through as strongly as I would have liked. On reflection, I probably would have preferred a piccolo.
Lunch is a choice of three toasted sandwiches and soup, with not much vegetarian choice (just the cheese and tomato toastie in fact). I was boycotting it on principle until one of the baristas sat at my table and ate one (effective marketing, that). When the two people the other side did likewise, my resistance crumbled. There is something about toasted cheese that just smells divine. The actual toastie lived up to the promise, with a wonderfully crisp outside and soft, chewy inside.
|10-12 CREECHURCH LANE • LONDON • EC3A 5AY|
|www.associationcoffee.com||+44 (0) 207 2831155|
|Monday||07:30 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, High Tables, Stools at Counter|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 17:00||Food||Breakfast, Sandwiches, Soup, Cake|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Thursday||07:30 – 17:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Friday||07:30 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Chain||No||Visits||6th February 2014|
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