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.
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|
|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|
|Chain||No||Visits||Original: 17th January 2014|
|Update: 18th December 2015|
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