Having finally paid a visit to Flat Cap Victoria in last week’s Saturday Short, I thought it was high-time that the Coffee Spot got around to the other Flat Cap, which is tucked away south of the river in London’s Borough Market. Once part of a small fleet of Notes Barrows, Flat Cap Borough is now a standalone operation and, despite the similarities, Flat Cap Borough is independent of Flat Cap Victoria.
There are, however, still close ties to Notes, with all the coffee coming from the Notes Roastery. There are a range of single-origin beans that you can buy, with one of them in the hopper. During my visit, this was a Brazilian Cachoeirinha, a naturally-processed coffee. All the usual espresso-based drinks are there, but otherwise that’s it. If you’re after something to eat with your coffee, never fear. You’re in Borough Market and spoilt for choice!
Normally, I’m reluctant to feature a pop-up on the Coffee Spot. However, when that pop-up is by renowned roasters, Has Bean, and it’s the first Has Bean coffee shop in 14 years, I’ll make an exception. I also wouldn’t normally visit a shop two days after it had opened, but when it’s only open for 72 days, time is of the essence.
So it was that on Monday, I popped down to Oxford Street to visit Made by Hand Coffee ([H]AND for short). Located on the third floor of the UniQlo clothing store, [H]AND is tucked away at the back, but easy enough to find. There’s a simple coffee bar, grinders at either end, a row of four Kalita Wave filters between them. Personally, in that sort of setting, I prefer standing up at the bar to drink my coffee, but if you want to sit down, there’s a cluster of four sumptuous armchairs around a coffee table (with USB power sockets).
However, the coffee’s the star, with a choice of four single-origin pour-overs. You can pick one or have a tasting flight of three. Similarly there are four teas, with the same offer on the table. And that’s it.
At the northern end of Strutton Ground Market, not far from Victoria Station, is Flat Cap Victoria, a veteran of London’s speciality coffee scene. For the last eight years, from Monday to Friday, it has been turning out top quality espresso-based drinks in all weathers from a lovely barrow, its only protection from the elements, a black, open-sided gazebo.
Flat Cap was set up by co-owners Fabio (of Notes fame), Rob and Charlie, although Fabio and Rob no longer work on the barrow. Despite being co-owned by Fabio, Flat Cap is independent of Notes (for example, there are no links, other than the name, with Flat Cap Borough in Borough Market), although there are close ties, with Flat Caps using Notes Coffee. There’s a single-origin espresso which changes every few weeks, largely depending on what the roastery sends through. If you’re hungry (and there early enough!), there’s a small range of pastries.
The latest addition to the growing Daisy Green/Beany Green collective is a rather different beast from those which have gone before. Spread over two floors on the corner of the prodigious new Nova development near Victoria Station, Timmy Green takes the strengths of Daisy/Beany and builds on them. The original Daisy Green, plus the Paddington and Liverpool Street Beany Greens, gained a reputation for innovative brunch menus, but Timmy Green goes one better, turning this into a fully-fledged restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner, complete with desserts, wine, beer and cocktails. And, of course, Roasting Party coffee.
The bulk of Timmy Green is downstairs, a triangular space providing restaurant-style table seating to the right and, in a tapering section to the left, cocktail tables and window-bars, plus a couple more intimate spaces. Upstairs, the mezzanine shares space with the kitchen as well as housing a few more tables.
There’s a large outdoor seating area in front of Timmy Green, with a narrower strip down the right-hand side. If all you want is coffee, a barrow with a bright yellow La Marzocco serves takeaway from half-an-hour before opening until three in the afternoon from its spot just left of door.
George Howell is a something of a legend in American speciality coffee. He made his name as a roaster, but recently George, as his staff refer to him, has started opening coffee shops under the George Howell brand, starting in Newtonville in 2012. This, the subject of today’s Saturday Short, is the first branch in Boston, in the high-profile, newly-opened Boston Public Market, while a second Boston branch in the Godfrey Hotel on Washington Street opened this summer.
Boston Public Market is home to a high-quality espresso/coffee bar, catering primarily to the takeaway market, but with proper cups for espresso and glasses for cortados. It’s an impressive operation, with house-blend, single-farm and decaf on espresso, plus further single-farm coffees for the iced-coffee, bulk-brew (coffee of the week) and individual pour-overs, courtesy of twin Marco Beverage Systems SP9s. You can buy retail bags of coffee, plus various merchandising and coffee-related kit.
Set up in November 2015 by brothers Alfie and Harry, along with business-partner Charlie, Rag & Bone Coffee’s a welcome addition to the Victoria Station/Westminster area. The patch, home to the venerable Flat Cap Victoria at Strutton Ground Market (where Alfie worked for five years, learning the trade of making coffee outdoors), is now slowly gaining more decent coffee, Rag & Bone joining Iris & June, which opened in 2014.
Rag & Bone is a coffee cart which has its home in front of St Matthew’s Church on Great Peter Street, serving single-origin espresso from south London social enterprise, Old Spike Roastery. The coffee changes on a monthly basis, Rag & Bone receiving “whatever’s good” from the Roastery, plus there are retail bags of beans for sale. In the summer months, iced coffee joins the usual espresso-based options on the menu, all served with a friendly smile and warm welcome.
I first discovered Can Do Coffee in 2014, when it popped up on a canal boat moored outside the rear entrance to London’s Paddington Station. However, that was a short-lived appearance and I heard no more about Can Do until word reached me that it had returned with a more permanent-looking pitch a little further down the canal in the direction of Paddington Basin.
I popped back to my old haunts a couple of weeks ago to check out old favourite Beany Green and also to track down the new Can Do. Tucked away on the tow path, it’s a delightful spot with a couple of outside tables, serving excellent Monmouth espresso, with a few treats thrown in for good measure. There’s also a motorised trike on the other side of the canal, but it’s only open from 07:30 – 11:30 on weekdays and I was too late to catch it.
Once upon a time, in the summer of last year, I read an interesting article in the Birmingham Mail about a coffee shop that had opened in a phone box. It was the end of July and, as luck would have it, I was passing through Birmingham that week, so I took a wander along Colmore Row, where I found said telephone box. But no coffee shop. Somewhat dispirited, I wandered off again and the whole coffee-shop-in-phone-box thing rather slipped my mind. Unknown to me, the article had jumped the gun and the coffee-shop-in-phone-box, Jake’s Coffee Box, actually opened the following week…
Fast-forward to this summer and I was once again wandering along Colmore Row, looking for another coffee shop that hadn’t actually opened yet (the Birmingham branch of 200 Degrees). Glancing down Eden Place, I suddenly remembered the phone box, so I wandered down to see what was there…
Not long ago, there wasn’t much speciality coffee around Fulham, just the long-standing Chairs and Coffee (shamefully, I’ve still not been!). However, it’s a rapidly-changing scene, which now includes the latest arrival, Pitch, which opened last week inside Fulham Broadway shopping centre. Pitch made a name for itself when it cut the back off a Cadillac and turned it into an espresso bar in Westfield shopping centre out in Stratford.
Now it’s got a slightly more conventional pitch right in the middle of the main drag at Fulham Broadway, serving Allpress coffee from an espresso-based menu, with decaf on a second grinder. There’s also hot chocolate, tea, sandwiches and an impressive range of cakes. It doesn’t stop there: Pitch has an astonishing seven types of milk-substitute! For what is essentially a takeaway place, there’s also seating at the counter (including power!), which is a nice touch.
Having started life in Westfield, which is about as mainstream as it comes, Pitch isn’t afraid of a little competition from the chains, and so it is at Fulham Broadway. Pitch has set up directly opposite Starbucks and there’s a Pret one door down. Who says speciality coffee can’t compete with the big boys?
It’s that time of year again: summer’s on the way (although as I write this, I’ve had the heating on and it poured with rain all day) and the Look Mum No Hands! pop-up has once again appeared under Hungerford Bridge on London’s South Bank. A fixture since 2013, the Look Mum No Hand’s pop-up joins the (sort of) all-year-round options of the Beany Green container and Bean About Town at the Real Food Market. When I last visited, in 2014, Look Mum No Hands! had already expanded considerably since its first year. Unexpectedly finding myself in London last Saturday, I naturally made a bee-line for Queen’s Walk to see what had changed this time around.
I’m pleased to say that this year, Look Mum No Hands! is bigger than ever before, with an expanded seating area under the cover of the bridge and even more food/drink options. There’s the ubiquitous Red Brick on espresso from Square Mile, plus an impressive range of craft beers and cider on tap, backed up with Pimms, prosecco, gin & tonic, vodka & tonic and wine by the glass. There’s cake and pastries, plus, if you’re really hungry, hot dogs, including a vegetarian version.
October 2016: Look Mum No Hands! has gone for another year. Check back in June next year to see what its latest incarnation is like!