Half Cup

Details of the decoration on the walls of Half Cup in Judd Street, London.Half way down Judd Street, just south of King’s Cross and St Pancras stations, Half Cup has been on my radar for a long time now, probably for almost as long as it’s been open, which is three years. I visited on several occasions, but sadly, until now, I’ve never been in a position to write it up, either being in a hurry to move on (like when I had breakfast there before this year’s London Coffee Festival) or else I’ve been meeting someone (the preliminary meetings about The Philosophy of Coffee where held here) and hence not been able to take detailed notes.

Half Cup serves Nude Espresso as its house-blend on espresso which has recently been joined by a guest espresso. This was, during my visit, the Penny Rock seasonal espresso blend from Red Bank Coffee in Cumbria. If you’re dairy-free, there’s an excellent selection of non-dairy milk alternatives, including almond, coconut, soya, oat and hazelnut. If you don’t fancy coffee, then there’s organic loose-leaf tea and a range of alcohol from craft beer to wine. There’s also an excellent brunch menu, which is served until 15.45, plus sandwiches to go and an awesome selection of cake.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On Judd Street, just south of King's Cross/St Pancras, you'll find the lovely Half Cup.
  • Appropriately, it's split in half. However, while there's a door on the left, it's not in use...
  • ... and you need to use the door in the right-hand half.
  • Getting cute with the A-board.
  • The right-hand side (where you enter) is given over to the counter...
  • ... which takes up the whole of the right-hand side.
  • There's a chiller cabinet at the back, along with some retail shelves...
  • ... while you can just make out the extensive kitchen through a hatch in the back wall.
  • The main part of Half Cup, where you'll find the seating, is through this doorway.
  • There's a couple of tables immediately to the right of the door.
  • There's another table to the left, then a window bar at the front.
  • There are more tables running along the left-hand wall opposite the doorway.
  • These line a wooden bench along the wall. Check out the menus on the tables.
  • Next comes a pillar, kitted out with a blackboard and some shelves.
  • After that there's a little niche on the left with a two-person bar.
  • Finally, there's more seating at the back.
  • This includes a large, communal table in the centre...
  • ... with more tables beneath a window at the back.
  • There's another table off to the right and, at the back, another two-person bar.
  • And now we're back to where we started.
  • One of the best parts of Half Cup is the decoration on the walls.
  • The niche opposite the door is particularly nicely decorated...
  • ... and worth a second look from a slightly different angle.
  • Details of the plants on the left-hand side of the niche...
  • .... while there are birds on the right-hand side.
  • More of the wall paintings, and a light bulb.
  • Talking of light bulbs, Half Cup has more than its fair share.
  • Some are in cages...
  • ... while others are, like the coffee, nude.
  • Some are stragitht...
  • ... while some are long and thin...
  • ... and others are curly.
  • It's not all light bulbs. These plants adorn the window on the right.
  • These shelves, meanwhile, are back in the seating area on the left.
  • Back in the right-hand side, it's time to order.
  • The beautifully-tiled counter is laden with goodies.
  • The menus, meanwhile, hang high above the counter...
  • ... which in turn are suspended from the ceiling high above them.
  • The coffee menu is on the left...
  • ... while alcohol (craft beers, cocktails and wine) is on the right.
  • You order on the left, then your coffee is made here, on the right.
  • A relatively new innovation at Half Cup is the introduction of a guest espresso.
  • First up is Red Bank from the Lake District. You can also buy the beans to take home.
  • Back on the counter, clever use of boxes increases the display space.
  • You'll also find a menu hanging beneath the counter...
  • This has the drinks on the first page and the food options after that.
  • Back on the counter top and there's a decent selection of cake, including this one...
  • There are more cakes out on wooden platters on the counter top.
  • You really are spoiled for choice.
  • Last lot, I promise.
  • If you fancy something a little more savoury, there are sandwiches in the chiller cabinet.
  • I had an espresso, which was served in the most delightful cup...
  • ... paired with a slice of the very fancy banana bread from the brunch menu.
  • I'd also popped in earlier in the year when I'd had a very fine decaf flat white...
  • ... with some lovely latte art.
  • That time I'd gone for the pancake stack which was awesome.
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Half Cup occupies two near-identical shop-fronts on London’s Judd Street, each with a door on the left and single, large window on the right. The left-hand side holds the seating, although there are multiple tables outside on the pavement, while the right-hand side has the counter and kitchen, the two sides joined by a doorway in the party wall.

Although there’s a door on the left, it’s not used, so you enter on the right, where you end up next to the counter, which runs the full length of the right-hand wall. You order here unless it’s a weekend, in which case, the staff show you to a table and take your order there. There’s not a lot else here, other than the to-go/retail section at the back, beyond which, just visible through a hatch in the wall, is the kitchen.

There’s a large seating area on the left, which stretches a long way back (the kitchen takes up half the space on the right, the equivalent area on the left given over to seating). Starting at the front, there’s a three-person window bar next to the recessed (and unused) door. A wooden bench runs along the left-hand wall with two two-person tables, and a single four-person one. On the right, a three-person table occupies the space between window and doorway, then comes a short wooden bench with two three-person tables.

It feels as if this was a house with front and back rooms which have been knocked into one. Two pillars remain on the left/right, demarcating front/back. Beyond the pillars, a low communal table with benches occupies the centre of the room, with a two-person bar in an awkward niche on left, while in a similarly-awkward, but differently-shaped niche on the right, is a four-person table. Finally, another wooden bench runs along the back wall, under a solitary window, with three two-person tables, while a high two-person bar rounds things off on the right-hand wall.

Although Half Cup has packed a lot in, it doesn’t feel too crowded, helped by wonderfully high ceilings and plenty of natural light, supplemented by some excellent lighting. There’s a lovely tiled floor, but best of all are the amazing paintings of plants and birds on the walls (check out the gallery: it really is a visual treat).

I’ve visited Half Cup several times, always finding the brunch menu, which includes Full English, various egg-based dishes and sweetcorn & courgette fritters (which I’ve had in the past) very impressive. I went for breakfast in April and had the excellent pancake stack, with blueberries and mascarpone. Normally I have my pancakes individually, smothered in maple syrup, but these were amazing as they were, so I ate them as a stack, marvelling at how light and fluffy they were. On my return, I had the banana bread with espresso-flavoured mascarpone and pecan nuts. Served warm, it was superb, but incredibly rich and, for once, I struggled to finish it.

When it comes to coffee, Half Cup uses Nude Espresso. In April, I had the Colombian Pijao decaf as a rich, creamy flat white. On my return, I had an espresso using the seasonal blend (60% Brazil, 40% Guatemala). This was excellent, a bright coffee with good body and a front/roof of the mouth taste. It was only after I’d ordered that I realised Half Cup had started serving a guest espresso, otherwise I’d have had that. The staff told me that this was a work-in-progress, but that if it went well, there would probably be another guest espresso on in the New Year (ie about now).

100-102 JUDD STREET • LONDON • WC1H 9NT
www.halfcup.co.uk +44 (0) 20 8617 7835
Monday 08:00 – 19:00 Roaster Nude Espresso (espresso)
Tuesday 08:00 – 19:00 Seating Tables, Window Bar, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 19:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch
Thursday 08:00 – 19:00 Service Order at Counter (Table Service at weekends)
Friday 08:00 – 19:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 17:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 8th April, 20th November 2017

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