Shoreditch Grind

The Shoreditch Grind logo, written on the wall of Shoreditch Grind.Shoreditch Grind is where London’s rapidly-expanding Grind chain (to-date, six, with a seventh coming next month) began in 2011, on the north side of London’s famous Old Street roundabout. In true Coffee Spot fashion, I’d already visited a couple of the other Grinds (the now-closed Piccadilly Grind and the still-going-strong Soho Grind). With that in mind, I decided it’s about time the Coffee Spot features the Grind mother-ship…

Although all the Grinds are different in terms of layout and atmosphere, this is the (successful) template that all the other Grinds follow, establishing the now-familiar formula of coffee by day and cocktails by night, along with an impressive (and evolving) food offering. This includes a full breakfast menu (served, as it should be, until three in the afternoon), sandwiches, cake and, in the evenings, small plates and more recently, pizza.

Grind will be roasting its own coffee in the near future, but for now Hove’s Small Batch fulfils that role, roasting the bespoke, seasonal house-blend (used in milk drinks), single-origin (used for espresso & short/long blacks) and the decaf, which all grace Grind’s espresso machines. There’s also Sandow’s cold brew on tap and a well-stocked bar for those evening cocktails.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Shoreditch Grind. In Shoreditch. I like this naming convention.
  • Shoreditch Grind, on the north side of Old St roundabout, as seen from the other side.
  • If you've not been for a while, this will be new to you: an extension around the side/back!
  • There's plenty of outdoor seating, including this area, fenced off by planters on the right.
  • Another view of the outside seating, as seen from the inside.
  • There's more outside seating, this time slightly more exposed, on the left-hand side.
  • This is the same view, but from a year ago in April 2015, taken at night.
  • This, by the way, is probably a more accurate exposure...
  • On the outside, looking in. Note that back then, there used to be picnic tables outside.
  • Anyway, let's go in, unelss, of course, you want to sit on one of the benches outside.
  • The interior is defined by the large counter running across the entire back third of the shop.
  • The remaining two-thirds is full of tables and people, making it tricky to photograph!
  • The windows are lined by window-bars, such as this one.
  • Another view of the window-bar.
  • A sneaky view of the seating from above.
  • One of the six tables that fill the middle of Shoreditch Grind.
  • At the back, on the right-hand side, a flight of stairs leads up the back wall.
  • But where do they go? Let's see, shall we?
  • There's a small bar at the top of the stairs, but I think it's staff only...
  • ... so time to go back down (upstairs also contains the toilets, kitchen and recording studio).
  • There are lots of cool lights downstairs, including this one above the logo.
  • The light, in more detail.
  • Plenty of lights hang in the windows...
  • ... and above the counter.
  • Naturally, I was fascinated by these.
  • Here's another one from my visit (at night) last year...
  • And another, from earlier this year.
  • Another view of the lights above the counter and the neon sign behind them.
  • Naturally I was fascinated by this as well.
  • It looks particularly good at night.
  • Anyway, enough of the lights. Let's look at the cool ceiling and its air-conditioning conduits.
  • Maybe not. To business, and the large, well-stocked counter.
  • The food is to the far left: sandwiches and salads during the day.
  • Next comes the till, where you order. Naturally, this is dripping in cake...
  • There are muffins, pastries and some seriously good-looking red velvet cake.
  • Towering above the cake are the taps for the draft beer and draught cold brew...
  • ... while there's yet more cake by the tills. And more alcohol.
  • If you can't be bothered coming up to the counter, there are menus on the tables...
  • ... and hanging behind the counter. These are reversable: evening menus are on the back!
  • The heart of the (coffee) operation: three Mythos One grinders - house, single-origin, decaf.
  • One of the two La Marzocco espresso machines.
  • The business end of the grinders...
  • ... and one of the La Marzoccos in full flow.
  • One of the many flat whites I've had at Shoreditch Grind, this from my most recent visit...
  • ... when I also had smashed avocado & poached eggs on toast for lunch...
  • ... which was followed up by the single-origin espresso.
  • Another flat white, this time from my visit the week before...
  • ... when my flat white and I were sheltering from the incessant rain.
  • Another view of the flat white. I think I may be in love with the red tulip cups by the way.
  • A decaf flat white from January, looking slightly blurry in the subdued late evening light...
  • ... and an espresso in a glass.
  • Talking of espresso: one of Grind's trademark espresso martinis and some toasted almonds.
  • Shoreditch Grind also does pizza in the evening: I tried this beauty on my last but one visit.
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That it’s taken me this long to feature Shoreditch Grind is a little surprising, particularly as this was my fourth visit over the space of a year. However, as I explained to Alex, the manager, the first three were evening visits, when the low light levels made photography particularly challenging. This time, I made a very definite decision to arrive during daylight hours!

Grind occupies a squat, two-storey cylindrical building. Downstairs, the front half sports three large, floor-to-ceiling windows. Inside, it’s one large, open space, the counter occupying Grind’s back third, in front of the curved, brick wall. There’s also a new extension at the back, off to the right, housing a smoothie bar. Come summer, this will allow takeaway customers and those sitting outside to be served without coming inside. An exposed staircase runs along the wall behind the counter, leading up to the toilets, kitchen and a recording studio. Yes, a recording studio. Doesn’t your coffee shop have one?

The door’s opposite the counter, punctuating the middle of three windows and flanked by window-bars, further bars running the length of the other windows, seating provided by high bar-chairs. Six round, four-person tables, equipped a mix of bar chairs and stools, for two rows of three in the centre of the room.

You can also sit outside (if you can stand the traffic thundering by on the roundabout). There’s a row of tables along the windows on the left-hand side, a bench either side of the door and a much larger, triangular seating area to the right, with about 15 tables ranging from two-seater round tables to long six-seaters.

My first visit came late one evening a year ago. Walking past after a barista course, I decided it would be rude not to go in for a very fine (decaf) Espresso Martini and some extremely tasty toasted almonds. I returned in January this year for a lovely, smooth (decaf) flat white and some equally tasty olives (the toasted almonds having disappeared from the menu). Keen to try the decaf on its own, I followed this up with an espresso. Given how well it had gone in milk, this was surprisingly sharp, but not unpleasantly so, with an almost smoky aftertaste.

For my next two visits, both in April, I was back on flat whites, made with the house-blend, a bold coffee, its fruity notes providing a counterpoint to the milk’s sweetness. On my most recent visit, purely for research purposes, I also tried the Rwandan single-origin espresso. This was fruity, but smooth, and extremely well-balanced.

On the first of those visits, another evening affair, I tried the new (to me) Olivia pizza, an excellent thin-crust pizza with minimal toppings, just how I like them. On my return, I was finally able to sample the breakfast menu, deciding on the smashed avocado on toast, with, since this is me, a couple of poached eggs on top. Probably the best smashed avocado I’ve ever had, the avocado was really well mashed, the bread superbly toasted (it can get a little soggy if you’re not careful) and the eggs poached to perfection: solid whites, runny yokes. There were also small slices of red chilli: normally I don’t like things that are too hot, but this was perfectly balanced, enough to give it a kick, but not so much that it overpowered the taste buds.

In closing, I leave you with one caveat: if you like quiet coffee shops, Shoreditch Grind’s probably not for you. Across all four visits, I’ve found it extremely loud and consistently busy. I love it, but be warned!

213 OLD STREET • LONDON • EC1V 9NR
www.grindandco.com +44 (0) 20 7490 7490
Monday 07:00 – 23:00 Roaster Small Batch (espresso only)
Tuesday 07:00 – 23:00 Seating Tables, Window Bar, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 23:00 Food Breakfast, Sandwiches, Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 23:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 01:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 08:00 – 01:00 Wifi Free
Sunday 09:00 – 19:00 Power Yes
Chain Local Visits 8th April 2015, 27th January, 15th/22nd April 2016

Disclaimer: last year, Grind launched a bond to fund its current expansion. I invested in this bond, and, like all bond-holders, receive free coffee as a reward (although I still have to pay for my Espresso Martinis, olives, pizzas and smashed avocado). My decision to write about Shoreditch Grind was in no way influenced by my investment.


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