Lanark Coffee (Drink, Shop & Dash Update)

Shot of a tulip cup on a black saucer, taken from above. The coffee is almost gone, but the latte art pattern, a tulip, is still plainly visible in the remainder of the milk in the bottom of the cup.Drink, Shop & Dash was the smaller sibling and speciality coffee outlet of next door neighbour, Drink, Shop & Do on the Caledonian Road. It was part of a growing speciality coffee scene in the area, led by the (now venerable) Caravan and including Noble Espresso (now Craft Coffee) and Notes. Just around the corner from King’s Cross station, it was a welcome spot, especially when you needed to take the weight off your feet.

So, I was surprised and more than a little disappointed when Phil Wain reported on twitter that Dash had closed. However, all was not as gloomy as it first appeared. It turned out that the two key people running Dash had, for entirely independent reasons, given their notice within a week of each other. Faced with a sudden recruitment crisis, Drink, Shop & Do had a dilemma. Fortunately, up popped Greg of Haggerston’s Lanark Coffee. Greg knew of the predicament from links with Dash’s roasters Alchemy and a deal was struck.

No sooner had Dash closed, it had reopened, Greg taking over behind the counter at the start of September. Naturally, I had to go along and see what Greg and Lanark had done to the place…

You can see what I found after the gallery.

  • The original 'Drink, Shop & Dash' on London's Caledonian Road...
  • ... now looks slightly different.
  • This is perhaps the biggest clue as to what's happened: Lanark Cofee's taken over.
  • Let's go inside, shall we?
  • The original Dash was always had a busy, bustling interior. The new-look Lanark, less so.
  • The physical store and layout is identical, but the interior has changed markedly.
  • Let's call the new look 'uncluttered'. Austere would be another apt description.
  • The one concession to decoration: the old retail shelf has become home to catii.
  • The two-person window bars either side of the door are still there though.
  • Although the sign above the window's not changed, the writing on the windows has.
  • The right way round.
  • There's nothing here to distract from the most important part of Lanark: the coffee.
  • Even the menu is stripped back! No messing around here.
  • The business end of the counter. Lanark has brought in its own espresso machine.
  • Here it is with its single grinder. There's a Moccamaster builk brewer somewhere behind it.
  • The coffee is from a cast of thousands. Well, three: Alchemy, Assembly and Workshop.
  • I had the last of this...
  • Talking of which: my flat white. I love the tulip cup. And the coffee, obviously.
  • The latte art and milk were particularly impressive...
  • ... lasting as they did all the way to the bottom of the cup.
  • And, for good measure, here's a piccolo (which belonged to another customer).
The original 'Drink, Shop & Dash' on London's Caledonian Road...1 ... now looks slightly different.2 This is perhaps the biggest clue as to what's happened: Lanark Cofee's taken over.3 Let's go inside, shall we?4 The original Dash was always had a busy, bustling interior. The new-look Lanark, less so.5 The physical store and layout is identical, but the interior has changed markedly.6 Let's call the new look 'uncluttered'. Austere would be another apt description.7 The one concession to decoration: the old retail shelf has become home to catii.8 The two-person window bars either side of the door are still there though.9 Although the sign above the window's not changed, the writing on the windows has.10 The right way round.11 There's nothing here to distract from the most important part of Lanark: the coffee. 12 Even the menu is stripped back! No messing around here.13 The business end of the counter. Lanark has brought in its own espresso machine.14 Here it is with its single grinder. There's a Moccamaster builk brewer somewhere behind it.15 The coffee is from a cast of thousands. Well, three: Alchemy, Assembly and Workshop.16 I had the last of this...17 Talking of which: my flat white. I love the tulip cup. And the coffee, obviously.18 The latte art and milk were particularly impressive...19 ... lasting as they did all the way to the bottom of the cup.20 And, for good measure, here's a piccolo (which belonged to another customer).21
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There’s not much to what was Drink, Shop & Dash, “dash” betraying its small size. Indeed, “DASH” still adorns the signboard above the window, although all other traces of its previous identity have gone. While small, Dash was always more than just takeaway, with enough space for seating in the form of a two-person window-bars each side of the door, something which Lanark has retained. A generous counter occupies the back wall, with plenty of space between it and the windows for those waiting for their coffee.

However, the previously busy interior now has a stripped-back, almost austere look. The old Dash was a veritable assault on the eyes, every possible vertical surface written on and every horizontal one holding something. There was even a set of shelves on the left-hand wall with a comprehensive selection of beans and coffee kit for sale. All that is gone, replaced by a calmer, plain interior, more of a stroll than a dash, with simple, painted walls and an uncluttered counter. Even the retail kit is gone, replaced by three rows of cacti.

While I liked the old Dash, I quite welcome the change of pace. I forgot to ask if this was what Greg was going for, but I suspect that circumstance (and the need for a quick turnaround) played a large part in the minimalist approach. Lanark’s current lease is only until the end of November, which militates against a more permanent set-up, although there is a possibility of a return on a more permanent basis next year.

The original Dash was also more than a coffee shop, with an output worthy of a much larger establishment. The usual espresso drinks were joined by single-origins on bulk-brew filter and pour-over, plus loose-leaf tea, frozen yoghurt, juices and a wide range for food from toast and muesli in the morning, to sandwiches and soup at lunchtime.

This too has been stripped back to basics. Faced with the same recruitment conundrum as Drink, Shop & Do, Greg’s single-handedly running the place, with the focus firmly on the coffee. This is reflected in the menu, which is as minimalist as everything else. There are no names or sizes, just two choices: black (espresso or bulk-brew filter), or, for 50p more, espresso with milk, with an option to supersize either.

So, what of the coffee? Lanark uses three London roasters: Alchemy, Assembly and Workshop, buying 3-4kg a go, mostly single-origin, but with the occasional blend. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Currently, Greg’s running the same bean through the moccamaster bulk-brewer, but he might get a different coffee in for the filter. There’s also, commendably, decaf.

I had the last of the Aricha single-origin Ethiopian from Alchemy, which Greg recommended in milk. My flat white came in a lovely tulip cup (don’t see so many of those). A very interesting coffee, I don’t really have the palette or words to describe it. The tasting notes suggest prunes, apricot and milk chocolate, but whatever it was, it tasted not quite like anything I’ve had before. Regardless, it was lovely, and certainly not sweet, bitter, dark or fruity (which pretty much exhausts my vocabulary for describing coffee)!

Just before I left, Lisa, the wife of the aforementioned Phil Wain, popped in for a piccolo. It’s a small world!

Don’t forget to see what I made of the original Drink, Shop & Dash. In other news, Lanark was a runner-up for the 2015 Award for Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station.

January 2016: Excellent news! Lanark is back at Drink, Shop & Dash for the remainder of the year!

December 2016: The Lanark occupation has run its course and has, I believe, left the premises for good. “Apparently we were too good to exist,” said Greg.

11 CALEDONIAN ROAD • LONDON • N1 9DX
http://lanarkcoffee.co.uk
Monday 07:30 – 16:00 Roaster Alchemy, Assembly, Workshop (espresso + bulk-brew)
Tuesday 07:30 – 16:00 Seating Window Bars
Wednesday 07:30 – 16:00 Food Cake (just the one)
Thursday 07:30 – 16:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 16:00 Cards Cash Only
Saturday CLOSED Wifi No
Sunday CLOSED Power Yes
Chain Local Visits 14th September 2015

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