Since I’m now officially London’s second best coffee blogger (behind Daniel of Cups of London Coffee), I thought I ought to blog about somewhere in London for a change… So, I present Monday’s Coffee Spot, Caravan’s roastery and second outlet, its wonderful space just north of King’s Cross station.
I popped into Caravan one Friday morning before work to pick up the new Coffee Spot Espresso Cup. However, while I was there I realised that the place was long overdue a write-up for the Coffee Spot, and thus today’s Coffee Spot was born…
A roastery, coffee bar and restaurant, Caravan, in its cavernous space in an old grain warehouse next to Regent’s Canal just north of King’s Cross, is many things to many people. To me, it’s a great place to sit inside at the counter at the back, drinking coffee and shooting the breeze with the baristas, or, on a summer’s evening, sitting outside with a carafe of one of Caravan’s many fine single-origins. As well as the single-origin pour-overs, I have always liked Caravan’s Market espresso-blend and generally keep an eye out for its coffee wherever I go.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
I first called into Caravan in December 2012. On my way back from Edinburgh, I’d just got into King’s Cross and was also coming down with a horrible cold. I couldn’t face the tube across London and train to Guildford without something to revive me. Although not in the best state to appreciate it, Caravan’s flat white and cinnamon bun saved me and I was able to continue my journey home.
Since then I’ve been to Caravan a couple of times last summer, but never, until now, been in a position to write it up, which is a real shame. The location, set back from Regent’s Canal, in an old granary, with a wide expanse of open paving mixed (in the summer) with fountains, is ideal. You can sit outside at one of the many long, trestle tables or at a little bar that runs around the left-hand end of the seating area.
Alternatively there’s the main restaurant in the cavernous interior. I sat there on my first visit: back then it was quiet; these days it’s heaving. Even during my latest visit, at 9:30 on a Friday morning, it was buzzing. There were plenty of tables to be had, but more often than not you will have to queue; it’s that popular.
The interior is lovely with its high wooden ceiling and massive wooden beans, and bare-brick or whitewashed walls. The kitchen is behind grill to the left, while there are four long rows of tables running from front to back, with a padded bench around the front and right-hand walls. You could probably fit 100 people inside.
Another option is the bar at the back, which runs around in a U-shape, the side facing the restaurant being a conventional bar, with the other side a coffee bar. You can perch here, watching the baristas at work.
Finally, right at the back is the roastery; all of Caravan’s coffee is roasted here and the 25kg roaster is in action most days except, of course, Fridays, which was then I was there. If you like that sort of thing, there’s a large wooden table with 10 stools just beyond the coffee bar where you can sit and watch the coffee being roasted.
I sat that the end of the counter, between the two bars (bottom of the “U”) where I could chat with the baristas and watch them at work. In the interests of self-preservation I had a decaf flat white, a strong coffee, with a dry taste, that came through the milk really well. The milk itself was also beautifully steamed, holding its pattern all the way to the bottom of the cup, which is always a good sign.
While I was there, I was lucky enough to meet Estelle, Caravan’s head barista, who had just finished third in the UK Barista Championships for the second consecutive year. She made me a shot of her competition blend, a mix of Yirgacheffe Dumurso, 70% natural and 30% washed. I’ve not tasted anything quite like it: it was a very fine cup, although a little too bright for me. However, it didn’t attack the sides of my mouth, having very much a back of the mouth feel, with a dryness that I don’t normally associate with coffee.
|GRANARY BUILDING • 1 GRANARY SQUARE • LONDON • N1C 4AA|
|www.caravanrestaurants.co.uk||+44 (0) 20 7101 7661|
|Monday||08:00 – 22:30||Seating||Tables, Bar, Tables outside|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 22:30||Food||Breakfast, lunch, dinner, cake|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 23:00||Service||Table (or sit at counter)|
|Thursday||08:00 – 23:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Friday||08:00 – 00:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Saturday||10:00 – 00:00||Power||No|
|Sunday||10:00 – 16:00||Mobile||3G, Voice|
|Chain||Local||Visits||11th April 2014|
For a different (and more up-to-date) perspective, take a look at what fellow coffee-bloggers Bean There At made of Caravan.
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