The Press Room, Twickenham

The Press Room on London Road, Twickenham.It seems unfair to call The Press Room a chain, since there are precisely two branches, the Surbiton original and today’s Coffee Spot, in Twickenham. Both are close to railway stations and they’re also at opposite ends of the 281 bus route. I visited the Surbiton branch in June 2013, almost exactly a year after it opened in 2012, while the Twickenham branch opened in the summer of 2015. It’s taken me slightly longer to visit this one, a mere three years, but it was worth the wait!

The Press Room occupies a bright corner on London Road in Twickenham. It’s much bigger than the original, with a simple spacious interior. The basic offering remains unchanged, with a solid coffee offering, including pour-over, plenty of tea and a selection of cakes, with sandwiches and salads if you want something savoury. Originally, The Press Room used Staffordshire’s Has Bean, but switched to Cornwall’s Origin when Twickenham opened.

The Resolute Blend is the mainstay on espresso, where it’s joined by Origin’s seasonal decaf. There are usually two offerings on pour-over through the V60 which change every few months. During my visit, these were a pair of Nicaraguan single-origins, one washed, the other naturally-processed.

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Rosslyn Coffee

The clock at Rosslyn Coffee where it's always coffee time.The City of London has always had good coffee as long as you know where to look for it. Initially, this was from a handful of pioneers, such as Alchemy Café and Taylor Street Baristas, but these days there seems to be great coffee springing up everywhere! One of the latest additions is Rosslyn Coffee on Queen Victoria Street, which opened in February this year. Other than its excellent coffee, Rosslyn’s claim to fame is that it’s in a building owned by Sir Alan Sugar.

Although a new name to speciality coffee, the team behind it, an Aussie-Irish duo, have years of experience behind them, having originally met working for Caravan (more Aussie connections). Although Aussie owned/inspired cafes are often known for their brunches as much as their coffee (eg Beany Green, Caravan), here at Rosslyn, the focus is on the coffee, combined with Aussie hospitality. There’s a house-blend, guest and decaf on espresso, a single-origin guest on pour-over (via the Marco Beverage Systems SP9) and a bulk-brew using a second single-origin. Although you are welcome to stay, Rosslyn is not really a place for lingering, with limited seating/standing at a series of window-bars that line the space.

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Society Café, Bristol

The main entrance to Society Cafe in Bristol, a pair of glass double-doors opening out onto Farr's Lane, with the counter directly ahead.I first came across Society in its home city of Bath, where I managed to visit the two branches in the order that they opened, a rarity for the Coffee Spot, starting with Kingsmead Square before moving onto The Corridor. However, I’ve safely broken that trend by skipping the third Society Café, in Oxford, instead visiting the fourth and most recent branch which opened this summer in Bristol.

You’ll find Society Café down by the harbour, on the corner of Narrow Quay and Farr’s Lane, right next to the youth hostel. It’s a lovely setting, with lots of outdoor seating on the quayside as well as down Farr’s Lane, while there is even more seating inside, spread over two large, spacious areas, one either side of a central counter.

The coffee is always of the highest order, with the house-espresso, which changes monthly, coming from Origin. This is joined by a guest single-origin which changes every couple of weeks. Meanwhile there’s bulk-brew filter and another option on Aeropress, both of which change every week or so. If you don’t fancy coffee, there’s a wide selection of tea, plus a dedicated smoothie-bar, as well as sandwiches and cake if you’re hungry.

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Origin, Euston Road

Barista in action, pouring a Kalita Wave filter at Origin's Euston Road branch.Hot on the heels of Origin opening its coffee bar in the British Library foyer comes a full Origin coffee shop, located just outside the Library on the Euston Road. This is now the fourth Origin outlet in London, with the first, on Charlotte Road, opening only last year. These join the two long-standing shops and the roastery back in Cornwall.

Long and thin, the Euston Road branch offers more seating options than the foyer, plus it attracts the passing trade, whereas the coffee bar in foyer was only really known to Library visitors. As an added bonus, there’s a kitchen at the back, enabling Origin to offer expanded breakfast and lunch menus to go with the familiar doughnuts and cakes.

The coffee offering, meanwhile, is very similar, although the Kalita Wave has supplanted the Aeropress as the filter method of choice, while a gorgeous-looking three-group Kees van der Westen provides the espresso. Here there’s a choice of the Pathfinder seasonal house-blend plus a single-origin, with another single-origin on batch-brew and two more on pour-over. Although both branches usually offer the same beans, switch-over can occasionally vary. This is all backed up by an impressive retail range, featuring numerous single-origins.

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Origin at the British Library

The words "ORigiN coffee roasters" in illuminated white on a black backgroundIn the foyer of the British Library on Euston Road, on the right of the doors, opposite the gift shop and next to the Friends of the British Library desk, you’ll find the second London outpost of Cornwall’s Origin. Although calling itself an espresso bar, it’s considerably more than this, and while not quite reaching the heights of the output of Origin’s flagship on Charlotte Road, it’s nonetheless very impressive.

From a small counter in the corner, Origin manages to deliver its seasonal Pathfinder espresso, as well as decaf, plus, (hopefully) by the time you read this, a single-origin espresso too. During the week there’s another single-origin filter on bulk-brew, while at weekends, it’s available through the Aeropress. For those not interested in coffee, there’s a wide range of Canton Tea.

And, on top of all that, well-stocked retail shelves have bags of beans and coffee kit for sale. There’s also food, both sweet and savoury. The sweet comes in the form of cookies, plus Crosstown Doughnuts, while for the savoury, Origin eschews the usual format of sandwiches in favour of a sausage roll for the meat-eaters and a Homity Pie for the vegetarians, which makes a welcome change.

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Origin, Charlotte Road

A glass Kalita Wave Filter sitting on a glass Kalita carafe which itself is on a pair of black Acaia scales. The ground coffee has been put in the filter paper, ready for brewing.Once upon a time, it was quite hard to get Cornwall’s Origin Coffee Roasters in London, with Selfridges being your best option, along with Artigiano Espresso. These days there’s also the likes of Jika Jika on Euston Square and now, there’s Origin’s own café on Charlotte Road in Shoreditch (where else?). This is very much a flagship café, designed to showcase Origin’s considerable range of coffee, particularly the single-origins. It also doubles as Origin’s London training base, with a large training room in the basement below.

It’s not a huge space and it’s remarkably uncluttered, leaving the focus firmly on the coffee, something which is reinforced by reversing the normal order of things on the counter. A typical coffee shop puts the cake/food first so that customers will file past it on their way to order, hopefully tempting them as they go.

At Origin, the cake is tucked away at the far end of the counter and the prime spot, clearly visible through the window, is the filter bar. Here pour-over coffee is prepared in full view of anyone who wants to sit and watch, as well as anyone wandering past on the street outside. Now that’s a statement!

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Jika Jika, Euston Square

A flat white in the sun, seen from directly above, at Jika Jika on Euston Square.Jika Jika started life in Bath about five years ago. It’s recently moved premises there, downsizing to a smaller outlet by the station. About a year ago it also opened a second branch. In London. As you do.

Close enough to Euston station to be worth visiting if you’re en route to catch a train, it’s just around the corner from the northern exit of Euston Square tube station (turn right, away from Euston itself, and ignore the branch of Costa). It’s somewhere I kept going past, thinking, “Is that the same Jika Jika as in Bath?” and “I must go in there one day”. So, eventually, I did. Twice.

There’s not a lot to Jika Jika, which occupies a corner of the Euston Square hotel (which, ironically, also houses the aforementioned Costa). However, it packs a lot in, including decent breakfast and lunch offerings. There’s a solid espresso menu, based around a bespoke espresso blend (plus decaf) from Cornwall’s Origin, using a two-group La Marzocco which dominates the counter at the back of the small space. If you have time to linger, the décor is interesting, including plenty of pictures and amusing coffee-related quotations.

January 2017: Jika Jika is now closed. As far as I know, the branch in Bath has also closed.

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Artigiano Espresso, St Paul’s

The Artigiano Espresso Logo, a capital A in gold on a slate-grey circle, with the words "Eat & Drink * Work & Play * Coffee & Food * Wine & Beer" written around the edge.In typical Coffee Spot fashion, I have visited the branches of Artigiano Espresso in reverse order, starting with the most recently opened in Exeter, at the start of this year, before moving onto the (now sadly closed) branch on New Oxford Street a month later. It then took me the rest of the year to get around to visiting the original Artigiano Espresso, located directly north of St Paul’s Cathedral on Paternoster Square in the heart of the City of London. And just in time too, since there’s another Artigiano opening in Reading on Wednesday!

If you’ve been to either of the other Artigiano Espressos, the original will look very familiar. It’s the smallest of the three, even taking into account that it’s split over two floors, with a lovely, cosy basement. Very much a coffee bar during the day, catering to city workers, it turns into a wine bar in the evening, and a very successful one at that if the Friday night I went past was anything to go by (it was heaving!). I turned up the following Saturday morning for breakfast: again, timing was on my side, since Artigiano has only recently started opening at weekends.

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Coffee Kabin

The counter at the Coffee Kabin, cakes to the left, coffee straight ahead.Just to the south of Huddersfield’s bustling town centre and directly opposite Huddersfield University campus, is the Coffee Kabin, perched on the busy Queensgate, which serves as part of Huddersfield’s ring road. The name Coffee Kabin is, on the one hand, a bit of a misnomer, “cabin” conjuring in my mind a small spot akin to Manchester’s Caffeine & Co or, even more appropriately, Grindsmith.

Instead it’s a surprisingly big place, with a spacious upstairs seating area and a cosy downstairs, where seating shares space with the counter. On the other hand, “cabin” fits perfectly, bringing to mind an image of wooden floors and bare, stone walls, a look which the Coffee Kabin pulls off so well. And, to be fair, who said cabins have to be small?

On espresso, the house-blend is from local roasters Grumpy Mule, just down the road in Holmfirth, while there are guests on espresso and filter. To counter-balance Grumpy Mule’s proximity, the guests rotate regularly between London’s Workshop, Cornwall’s Origin and Berlin’s The Barn. There’s also a decent selection of loose-leaf tea, an array of cakes and (all-day) breakfast and lunch menus, plus award-winning hot chocolate from Kokoa Collection.

November 2017: these days, the Coffee Kabin goes by the name “Epicure Bar and Kitchen”. Simon is still at the helm, and still turning out superb coffee, but the focus is (even more) on the excellent food. Expect a full update as soon as I can get back to Huddersfield!

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Artigiano Espresso, New Oxford Street

Artigiano Espresso on New Oxford Street, LondonIronically I seem to be visiting the various Artigiano Espresso branches in reverse order of opening. First I went to the Exeter branch (opened just before Christmas). Then, three weeks later, I was in London’s New Oxford Street, where Artigiano opened about a month before it did in Exeter. All that’s left for me now is to visit the original branch at St Paul’s. Which has been open a year or more…

Regular readers will know that I really liked the Exeter branch and I have to say that I like the New Oxford Road branch even better! It’s very similar to Exeter, only more so, with the added bonus of a really lovely mezzanine level. Overall it’s about half the size, which, coupled with the layout, gives it a more intimate feel.

It has the same Artigiano offerings of food, cake, coffee (from Cornwall’s Origin), beer/wine/cocktails, friendly staff and late evening opening which make the chain as a whole such a winner. Add to that the wonderful surroundings and the only thing that puzzles me is why it’s not packed out every day. So, do yourself a favour and get down to New Oxford Street right now!

December 2014: Sadly, too few of us made it down to New Oxford Street (myself included) and Artigiano Espresso has now closed. However, there’s a new Artigiano in Reading if you’re interested.

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