Curators Coffee Studio

A nine-leaf tulip latte-art pattern in a classic white cup, seen from above.Fitzrovia’s Curators Coffee Gallery has long been a favourite of mine, a convenient stopping off point when going to the BBC Radio Theatre for recordings. However, until the start of this month, in typical Coffee Spot fashion, I’d never been to the original, the Curators Coffee Studio in the heart of the City of London. I’d been past a couple of times, but I’d always been in a hurry and, like last week’s Saturday Short, New Row Coffee, I’d always been put off by the (lack of) size. The loss has been all mine…

Curators, as the name “studio” suggests, is small, no more than a rectangle on a corner, principally catering to the office takeaway trade (it’s shut at the weekends). Despite this, if you’re staying in, the coffee is served in proper cups and there’s a neat window-bar/table, plus some handy seating outside.

The coffee is from Nude Espresso, who provide the house-blend, while there’s also a guest espresso (from Square Mile while I was there), plus decaf and bulk-brew (another Square Mile during my visit). If you’re hungry, Curators has a limited, but decent, range of cakes and sandwiches, plus, as the benches outside proudly proclaim, breakfast.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The original Curators, Curators Coffee Studio, on Cullum Street in the heart of the city.
  • It's on a corner with tables out front and benches under cover around the corner.
  • Curators makes good use of the extra space around the corner.
  • For example, the window is used to advertise the cakes and sandwiches...
  • ... while the tables next to the benches are also pressed into use.
  • See what I mean?
  • Ah, the most important thing!
  • Curators has also realised that you can hang signs in the window too.
  • Stepping inside, there's not a lot to Curators. This is the view from just inside the door.
  • To the right is the takeaway station...
  • ... while to the left is the door, a couple of stools and the till.
  • The rest of the seating is behind you/to the right as you come in.
  • It's this four-person window-bar/table.
  • Although there are windows on two sides, Curators still has plenty of lights.
  • Naturally I was fascinated by them.
  • There's a great piece of artwork on the counter, by Tim Shaw unless I'm much mistaken.
  • Curators has some nice touches, such as this line of bottles waiting to be filled with water.
  • You can also buy bags of coffee, which hang in the window to the left of the door.
  • The cakes and sandiwches are to the left of the till...
  • ... while to the right are the Strada and its three matcihng grinders (house, guest, decaf).
  • The grinders helpfully tell you what's on that day.
  • I like a concise coffee menu.
  • I also like the size-based  ordering system.
  • If you don't want espresso, there's always the bulk-brew filter.
  • However, I'm here for espresso, so the Strada is put into action (they're not for me though).
  • The milk is steamed...
  • ... and then the barista springs into action, making a cortado for another customer.
  • I love watching a skilled latte-artist build up the pattern.
  • Here comes the first blob.
  • Each one is added in quick succession with a series of short, controlled movements...
  • ... with each blob displacing and shaping the previous ones.
  • Soon the pattern is almost complete.
  • Just one more component...
  • ... and then to apply the finishing touch.
  • And we're done!
  • Look at that!
  • It looks even better when properly presented on the saucer.
  • However, if you think that's impressive, take a look at my flat white!
  • That's so good, it's worth the Instagram treatment!
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There really isn’t very much to Curators Coffee Studio. It opened in March 2012, occupying a small spot on the corner of Cullum Street. The front looks out onto the street, while the side faces a covered passage way (also part of Cullum Street) which leads to Lime Street and Leadenhall Market. There’s actually more seating outside than in, with two four-person tables on the narrow, pedestrianised street and another three tables, each with wooden benches, in the passageway. In all you could seat 14 outside.

While I was there, an early February lunchtime, there was no space inside, so I took a seat on one of the tables out front. Wrapped up warm, sitting outside was actually quite pleasant, even though it was a chilly day. However, there were lots of people passing by, so it’s not what I would call peaceful!

Inside, the layout is rectangular. The counter is at the back, there’s a window bar/table to your right, which seats four, while to your left there are a pair of stools in the corner by the door. How practical these are, I don’t know. Retail bags of coffee from various roasters hang in the window by the stools (espresso on the left, filter on the right), so I imagine sitting there is not ideal.

The door is on the left, and the counter, which takes up about half the space, is directly ahead, with the till in front of you, an eminently sensible place for it to be. Immediately to the right are the three colour-coordinated grinders, each with a little note telling you what’s on, before you get to the matching three-group La Marzocco Strada. Carry on and you come to the far end of the counter where you collect your coffee and, as if by magic, against the right-hand wall, is a little takeaway station with lids and the like. If you’re sitting in (or out) the staff will bring you your coffee. I suspect that the interior seating is deliberately limited to leave space for takeaway customers, who are the vast majority. Then again, it’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation, since if there’s not much seating, people won’t stay…

While I was there, both the house (from Nude Espresso) and the guest (from Square Mile) espressos were single-origins. Both of the baristas who expressed an opinion said that the house was better with milk, so I had that (a washed El Salvador) as a flat white. This was an ideal first coffee of the day, really smooth, coffee blending with the milk to create a harmonious whole. The milk was also beautifully-steamed, the lovely pattern holding almost to the bottom of the cup.

9A CULLUM STREET • LONDON • EC3M 7JJ
www.curatorscoffee.com +44 (0) 20 7283 4642
Monday 07:30 – 17:30 Roaster Nude Espresso + Guests (espresso + bulk-brew)
Tuesday 07:30 – 17:30 Seating Window Bar, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:30 – 17:30 Food Sandwiches, Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 17:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 17:30 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday CLOSED Wifi No
Sunday CLOSED Power No
Chain Local Visits 3rd February 2016

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