Piccadilly Grind is, as far as I know, unique, being the only coffee shop inside a London tube station. There might be others in the outer zones, but this is certainly the only one in a Zone 1 station. It’s an unexpected setting, but certainly a welcome one, meaning you can get great coffee on the go from seven in the morning until ten at night (nine until eight at weekends). Hopefully we will see more of this sort of thing in the future!
Tucked into literally a hole in the wall on the main concourse, it blends in well with its surroundings. Despite its relatively small size, Piccadilly Grind is anything but a small coffee shop in its outlook. It’s even got seating, power and free (sort of) Wifi. The only thing that it doesn’t do at the moment is pour-over. Other than that, there’s a comprehensive espresso menu (house-blend and decaf, both roasted by Brighton’s Small Batch), tea from Tea Pigs and an impressively wide ranges of soft drinks, pastries/cakes and (at lunchtime) sandwiches.
You can either order your coffee to go or sit down on the bench and, in the quieter moments, chat with the baristas.
November 2014: Sadly Piccadilly Grind is no more. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, it was always intended to be a six month pop-up, and closed at the start of the month.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Piccadilly Grind is the third of the Grinds, a small, but growing chain of coffee shops, which has the useful naming convention of putting the location of each coffee shop in front of the word “Grind”. It all started out in Shoreditch with Shoreditch Grind, before continuing, in quick succession, with near-neighbours Soho Grind and today’s Coffee Spot, Piccadilly Grind. Each is its own place, blending both atmosphere and offering to its surroundings and clientele. Piccadilly Grind, in a (very busy) tube station, lends itself to grab and go custom. This, for example, probably more than the lack of space, accounts for the absence of pour-over, which just takes too long to make when you have customers in a hurry!
Tucked in next to the station’s information office, Piccadilly Grind makes quite an impression. It’s essentially a long oblong recess with five floor-to-ceiling partitions, the middle three of which are glass. A full-length counter runs behind the first four partitions, providing a shop window for Piccadilly Grind, with its bright red La Marzocco espresso machine standing out. The left-most (open) partition acts as a serving hatch for those really on-the-go customers, while the right-hand (open) partition gives access to a small space at the end of the counter.
There’s a two-seater bench here if you want to take the weight off your feet, and a pair of power sockets if you need to recharge anything. There’s also access to London Underground’s Wifi, which is free if you’re a Virgin Media customer. The pastries and sandwiches are also on display at this end of the counter, along with a range of soft drinks. Although I’m sure that you can order food from the serving hatch at the other end, if you want to browse, this is the right end to come.
A lot of thought has gone into Piccadilly Grind. To start with, it blends in perfectly with its surroundings. The interior is completely tiled, with square, white tiles matching the tiles/stone of the concourse. Being so small, it could be quite dark inside, but instead, multiple lights make it bright and welcoming. Finally, in such a busy, noisy environment, it needs to stand out, so loud, upbeat music fills the space (while I was there, Barney the Barista was playing music from Ranger Spacey and Panda Bear, both personal favourites of his).
Of course, all of this is of little consequence if the coffee itself is poor (so often a failing at stations, where the demand for speed results in ridiculously short extract times). Fortunately, this is not the case at Piccadilly Grind, where the house-blend is from Brighton’s Small Batch, roasted exclusively for the three Grind outlets. I put Barney’s colleague Olivia to the test and was rewarded with a very fine flat white. The coffee is quite sweet, complimenting the milk. I also had an almond croissant which I took away with me for later consumption. This too proved to be lovely.
One word of warning though. Piccadilly Grind only has takeaway cups. So, if like me, you prefer your coffee out of a proper cup, don’t forget to take your own!
|PICCADILLY CIRCUS TUBE STATION • LONDON • W1J 9HS|
|www.piccadillygrind.com||+44 (0) 20 7287 6210|
|Monday||07:00 – 22:00||Seating||One bench|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 22:00||Food||Sandwiches, Cake|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 22:00||Service||Counter|
|Thursday||07:00 – 22:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Friday||07:00 – 22:00||Wifi||Free (with logon) for Virgin customers|
|Saturday||09:00 – 20:00||Power||No|
|Sunday||09:00 – 20:00||Mobile||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||9th July 2014|
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