I came across Lanark Coffee when it took over Drink, Shop & Dash (next to King’s Cross Station) in September 2015. Originally, this was only for a trial period, until the end of the year, but the good news is that this was extended for the whole of 2016. To celebrate, I thought I’d call in on the original Lanark on Hackney Road, sticking my head around the door on the last Saturday before Christmas.
Drink, Shop & Dash is pretty small, but Hackney Road is not much bigger. In fact, in terms of floor space, it might even be smaller, but it packs more in, food joining the stripped-back coffee menu of espresso, espresso with milk and individual pour-over through the Chemex. Lanark buys its coffee in small batches of 3-4 kg at a time from (largely) London-based roasters, before moving onto the next one.
Lanark opened in the summer of 2014, the brainchild of Greg and Dom, who split their time between the two sites. However, whenever I’ve been in, I’ve only ever met Greg. Of course, I’m not suggesting that Greg has an imaginary friend, but it does make you wonder…
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Lanark Coffee occupies an interesting spot on the southern side of Hackney Road. Long and thin, it’s hardly ideal for a café, but Lanark has made it work surprisingly well. Although on street level, the café is actually on the top floor, stairs leading down to a basement where Lanark’s kitchen shares the space with a furniture workshop. Indeed, the furniture business is the main tenant, Lanark subletting the upstairs, an arrangement which works very well (all the furniture in Lanark was made downstairs).
Lanark’s about as tall as it is deep, and about twice as wide, with windows all along the front, which runs along Hackney Road. This means that it’s bright inside, even though it’s north-facing. There’s a glass door at the right-hand end, opposite the small counter, which takes up about one-third of the back wall. The rest of the space is given over to the stairs down to the basement workshop, the stairs starting at the left-hand end of the shop. The seating is between the stairs and the windows: a pair of three-person tables in the windows themselves and a narrow three-person bar overlooking the stairs. There’s also a bench outside on the pavement of the busy Hackney Road.
The counter‘s a fairly open affair, espresso machine (a lovely Victoria Arduino Athena lever machine) and grinder (a multi-purpose EK-43) to the right, with the cakes and filter station to the left, a gap in the middle to let Greg (or the imaginary Dom) in and out.
I was keen to try the food, so Greg was dispatched down to the kitchen, while I was left minding the store (and wondering how far down the street I’d get with the Victoria Arduino on my shoulder…). The menu’s limited: three types of cheese toastie, salad, omelette and three choices of things on toast (peanut butter, avocado or scrambled eggs), although by now, Lanark should be baking all its own cakes downstairs, serving both here and Drink, Shop & Dash.
I went for the scrambled eggs, which arrived before I managed to work out how to get the espresso machine out of the door, which is just as well, otherwise I’d have missed out. The eggs were perfect, rich and creamy, while the toast was spot on too.
To celebrate my good fortune, I had a Kenyan espresso from Square Mile, which I approached with some trepidation, given my past struggles with African espresso. However, I needn’t have worried: this was awesome, well-balanced on the first sip, becoming sharper and more acidic with each successive sip. Lanark also had three filters, all from Alchemy, available through the Chemex: a Costa Rican, a Guatemalan and a Sulawesi from Indonesia.
December 2016: Lanark Coffee was a runner-up for the 2016 Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
|262 HACKNEY ROAD • LONDON • E2 7SJ|
|Monday||08:00 – 16:00||Roaster||Guests (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 16:00||Seating||Tables, Bar, Bench (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 16:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 16:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 16:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||10:00 – 16:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 16:00||Power||No|
|Chain||No||Visits||19th December 2015|
You can also see what fellow coffee-blogger Audrey Fiodorenko made of Lanark when she visited in the summer of 2015.
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