Store Street Espresso, unsurprisingly located on Store Street, is a wonderful place. It’s been open for about 2½ years and I’ve been aware of it for some time, having walked past several times and given it admiring glances. However, until recently, I’d never had the opportunity to go in. Fortunately for me, Store Street Espresso more than lived up to its external promise.
I like pretty much everything about Store Street, from the layout of the store, through the friendly and knowledgeable staff, right up to the coffee and cake. It’s a place that’s not afraid to experiment, with regularly-rotating guest coffees (including European and American roasters) supplementing the regular offerings from Square Mile. At the same time, it stays true to its core values of serving good food and excellent coffee. It has a pretty decent filter coffee and a mean slice of toast, both of which are pretty rare. That it’s open until seven o’clock in the evening is a huge bonus.
My only regret is that I didn’t know about Store Street when I was a regular visitor to the British Museum, otherwise I would have spent a lot more time in it back then.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
My Store Street story is one of confusion mixed with pleasant surprises. It offers a number of options for its coffee: the usual espresso-based range, a cup of filter or the guest bean as a V60. I started with an espresso, which was commendably short but which was far too sweet for my palette. Having had this reaction to Square Mile (Store Street’s regular roaster) before, I wasn’t too surprised, thinking it was the famous Sweetshop blend. Undaunted, I had a flat white, figuring that the milk would blend well with the sweetness of the coffee (which it has before). I was rewarded not only with a nice piece of latte art (or should that be flat-white art?) but a lovely, well-balanced drink. Then all was revealed…
I had mis-read the menu, not realising that the guest bean was the default for an espresso, with Square Mile for the other espresso-based drinks. What I’d mistaken for a sweet Square Mile was Nude Espresso’s single origin Rwanda Gisuma. According to the baristas, it was even sweeter than the Sweetshop blend. Well, that figures…
In the interests of balance, I had a filter coffee on my second visit using Square Mile’s Bolivia Caravani. Again, though, I’d mis-understood the menu (it is commendably clear, I just wasn’t paying attention) and thought this was the V60 (in my defence, plenty of places refer to V60 as “filter”). It was, in fact, made in a batch brewer. Had I known this, I doubt I would have ordered it, such is my previous poor experiences with filter, which usually tastes stewed and dull. However, I’m glad of my ignorance, since I got a pleasing cup of coffee, lacking in overly-complex flavour, but strong and smooth. As a sign of my appreciation, I had it black, although Store Street offers milk, either warm or cold, on the side. The owner explained to me afterwards that the filter machine makes relatively small quantities, keeping it fresh. Any unused coffee is thrown away after 45 minutes.
I also felt that the cake range deserved sampling. I had a nata (Portuguese custard tart) with the espresso, some cracking toast with the flat white and a shortbread cube filled with dark chocolate sauce and topped with raspberry with the filter. All were excellent.
Store Street is a lovely place to drink coffee. With a couple of tables on the pavement and a padded seat in the window, the bulk of the seating is at the back, beyond the counter. It’s very relaxed back there since you’re isolated from the stream of people coming in for takeaway coffee and from the bustle of people placing orders.
It’s also bright and airy, with two big sky-lights and a window to supplement the light from the generous windows at the front. The simple, white-washed walls and ceiling also help. There are two- or three-person tables along the left and longer, communal tables on the right. It’s sufficiently busy that you’ll have to share, but not so cramped that it’s a problem.
Store Street also sell beans and some coffee-making equipment, but above all, I like the attitude and the friendly, helpful staff. It’s not afraid to experiment and try different beans, which helps it stand out from the crowd.
|40 STORE STREET • LONDON • WC1E 7DB|
|www.storestespresso.co.uk||+44 (0) 20 7637 2623|
|Monday||07:30 – 19:00||Roaster||Square Mile + Guests (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 19:00||Seating||Tables with benches, tables outside|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 19:00||Food||Cake, Toast, Lunch|
|Thursday||07:30 – 19:00||Service||Order at counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 19:00||Cards||Visa, Mastercard (£0.10 charge under £4)|
|Saturday||09:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code; no wifi 12:00 – 15:00)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 17:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||Local||Visits||11th/24th April 2013|
You can also check out Store Street’s sister cafe, Continental Stores, on Tavistock Place. There was also a branch in an office block near Paddington, but that’s now closed. For a different perspective, see what fellow coffee-blogger, Audrey Fiodorenko, makes of the original Store Street Espresso.
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