I’m not going to say it’s the best, since I know there are very many fine purveyors of coffee beans in London, but put simply, the Algerian Coffee Stores on Old Compton Street is my (London) coffee retailer of choice. It has a massive range of coffee, plus various types of tea and an interesting selection of confectionery. If you don’t know what you want, just ask: the staff are very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.
The Algerian Coffee Stores also serves take-away coffee, which, naturally, is of the highest quality. It also happens to be one of the cheapest cups of coffee you’ll find in London. The only downside is that the coffee can only be served in takeaway cups, so if you’re going to have an espresso, don’t forget to bring your own cup.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
If you haven’t worked it out already, you should know that I’m pretty obsessive about my coffee. So, for example, I buy my espresso beans from Tazza D’Oro in Rome. When I can’t get to Rome (which, let’s face it, isn’t the most conveniently situated city when you live in Guildford, although Tazza D’Oro does have a branch in Amsterdam, which is closer, but even so…), I fall back on the excellent Caffé Torino beans from the Algerian Coffee Stores in London.
Situated on Old Compton Street in the heart of Soho, I honestly can’t remember when I first came across the Algerian Coffee Stores. I think I just walked past many years ago and thought “that looks interesting”. And interesting it is, dating as it does from 1887 and retaining some of its original features.
It’s a tiny shop, so small that if I stretched both my arms out, I could probably touch the counter on one side and the wall opposite (I’ve never tried, largely because it’s far too busy; I don’t think I’ve ever been in there and been the only customer). Behind the counter, which runs down the length of the left-hand side of the shop, there is a bewildering array of coffee beans. It sells an even wider range of tea and some interesting confectionery (from memory, lots of Italian and Turkish chocolates and sweets; if you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary, it’s worth popping in). To round things off, it has a selection of coffee machines, grinders and coffee and tea accessories.
I defy anyone to go there and not find the perfect coffee bean for whatever the occasion. If you are spoilt for choice, or just plain bewildered (I was the first time I went there), just ask: the staff are very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. It also does mail order, although for whatever reason, I’ve never considered buying coffee beans through the post.
The Algerian Coffee Stores also serves coffee from an espresso machine, which stands invitingly in front of you as you come in the door. As you would expect (demand?) from such an establishment, the coffee is excellent. It’s also remarkably cheap for central London. I’ve only ever had the espresso, but it’s amongst my favourites: rich, strong, not too bitter and with a good crema and body.
The only downside is, being takeaway, the coffee is served in disposable, paper cups. Now, if like me, you think that espresso just doesn’t taste right in a paper (or plastic) cup, then the only option is to bring your own. And let’s face it, why wouldn’t you? Nothing says slightly obsessed (and potentially a little unhinged) like turning up with your own espresso cup. If nothing else, it’s always a good talking point :-).
|52 OLD COMPTON STREET • SOHO • LONDON • W1D 4PB|
|www.algcoffee.co.uk||+44 (0)20 7437 2480|
|Monday||09:00 – 19:00||Seating||N/A|
|Tuesday||09:00 – 19:00||Food||None|
|Wednesday||09:00 – 19:00||Service||Takeaway|
|Thursday||09:00 – 21:00||Cards||Visa, Mastercard, Amex|
|Friday||09:00 – 21:00||Wifi||No|
|Saturday||09:00 – 20:00||Power||N/A|
|Chain||No||Visits||31st August 2012|
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