Mother’s Milk Update

A flat white in a glass from Mother's Milk as seen from above with a simple tulip motif.The original Mother’s Milk was on Little Portland Street, one of a growing number of speciality coffee shops in Fitzrovia, an area once the sole preserve of Aussie legends, Kaffeine. Mother’s Milk joined the likes of Attendant and since opening, Workshop, Curators Coffee Gallery and several others have moved in. But now Mother’s Milk has moved… all the way to Little Portland Street! That’s right, Mother’s Milk has upped sticks and headed east, all the way across Great Portland Street, shifting from No 12 to the far more excitingly-named No 22-23.

Many of the Mother’s Milk hallmarks remain from the original: Will and James are still behind the counter, while the delightful Victoria Arduino lever espresso machine is still on it, the coffee’s still from Munich’s JB Kaffee and it’s still frustratingly hard to find unless you know where it is!

The original Mother’s Milk at least had windows onto the street, but was confusingly called Rosalind’s Kitchen (which is why I walked past three times one my first visit). The new premises are a great improvement, but are in the back of a communications agency called Exposure, the only real clue to Mother’s Milk being the A-board outside.

January 2016: Bad news. Mother’s Milk has announced its closure with immediate effect.

You can see what I found after the gallery.

  • Despite the bench outside, Mother's Milk's new location doesn't look like a coffee shop.
  • The only other hint is the (rather discreet) A-baord by the door.
  • Stepping inside, it still doesn't look much like a coffee shop...
  • However, keep going towards the back and you'll come across this. That's more like it!
  • The view from right at the back.
  • The front part is the reception for a communications agency called Exposure.
  • The back is meeting space for Exposure, but Mother's Milk customers can sit here too.
  • There's this large communal/meeting table...
  • ... and this smaller, four-person table.
  • At the back is this rather sumptuous meeting room, but I suspect it's Exposure only.
  • However, the best seats in the house are here at the counter...
  • ... and what a thing of beauty it is!
  • It's quite long, so you don't have to sit next to the espresso machine if you don't want to.
  • There's some lovely lighting over the top of the bar...
  • ... as well as this lovely green lampshade on the wall.
  • Bare lightbulbs also make an appearance.
  • Nice takeaway cups. Fortunately there are proper cups (actually, glasses)  if you're sitting in.
  • Barista at rest.
  • Barista deep in thought.
  • Barista at work.
  • Reinforcements! Will has arrived!
  • After all that, I went for an Aeropress of a Kenya AA, served in a bottle.
  • Here it is in the glass.
  • Fortunately, Liam, who I was meeting at Mother's Milk, saved the day with a flat white!
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The other thing that the new Mother’s Milk shares with the original is that it’s still well-worth finding and only 80m from the old location. Although not looking like a coffee shop from the street, have a little faith: go in, walk straight past reception (who don’t seem to mind folk wandering in and out unannounced) and head to the back, where you’ll find Mother’s Milk installed on a lovely, old bar on the right-hand side.

Mother’s Milk is effectively Exposure’s in-house café, housed in the agency’s break-out area. Like the original location, it’s a win-win: Mother’s Milk gets bigger premises, the agency gets top-notch coffee on-site. Compared to the old premises (where there literally wasn’t room to swing a cat), the new place is huge, with much more seating. There’s a long, communal table in the centre of the room, plus a four-person round table off to one side, although the room is sufficiently large that these look a little lost with all the space around them.

The best seats, however, are the row of bar-stools at the counter. You can sit at the end nearest the door (by the espresso machine) and chat with whichever of Will or James is on (or both if you’re lucky) or you can sit at the far end and chat with Will/James. Like the original Mother’s Milk, I’m not sure minding your own business is an option. In between these two extremes, a pair of taps dispense water (still or sparkling), along with the apparatus for the brew bar (Mother’s Milk adding bulk-brew to its Aeropress offering).

Since this is Exposure’s break-out area, you’ll get staff wandering in and out, holding meetings (either at one of the tables or at the big conference room right at the back) or helping themselves to the bulk brew. However, given the size of the place, it’s surprisingly unobtrusive.

As far as I know, Mother’s Milk is still the only place in London serving JB Kaffee, Will & James receiving various beans (selected by JB Kaffee) on a regular basis (in James’ words “we get what we’re given!”). I had a lovely Kenya AA through the Aeropress, while there was a Colombian La Joyeria on bulk brew and a sweet, fruity seasonal espresso blend called “fruitylicious mixbag” (volume 4).

It was a day of meeting people: James was there when I arrived, with Will turning up later. In the meantime, I was meeting Liam Johnston for a calendar exchange. Then an old friend, Charli, who used to work at Bar Des Arts in Guildford (before it closed) suddenly appeared. Turns out she works on reception for Exposure. It’s a small world!

Don’t forget to see what I thought of the original Mother’s Milk.

22-23 LITTLE PORTLAND STREET • LONDON • W1W 8BJ
www.mothersmilkcoffee.com
Monday 08:30 – 16:00 Roaster JB Kaffee (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:30 – 16:00 Seating Counter, Tables
Wednesday 08:30 – 16:00 Food No
Thursday 08:30 – 16:00 Service Counter
Friday 08:30 – 16:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday CLOSED Wifi No
Sunday CLOSED Power Limited
Chain No Visits Original: 17th January 2014
Update: 18th December 2015

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