The Borough Barista, confusingly (for me) nowhere near London’s Borough Market, is actually at the western end of London’s West End. It’s somewhere that I really don’t go very often, so while The Borough Barista has been on my radar for a while, I’ve not had any reason to visit. Until, that is, I landed some work in Paddington, about 20 minutes walk away, and decided it was high time I visited.
Not far from Marble Arch, The Borough Barista sits just off the busy Edgware Road on the corner of Seymour Street and the quieter Seymour Place. It’s fairly unassuming at first glance, but is lovely inside, an oasis of calm and excellent coffee in an area lacking both! With an espresso blend from Yorkshire roasters, Grumpy Mule, that seemed to have been specifically selected to suit my tastes, I can safely say that the espresso was one of the nicest I’ve had in a very long time!
My only problem is that I liked The Borough Barista so much that if I popped out one afternoon for a quick coffee, I’m not convinced I’d actually go back to work! Ever…
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
First impressions can be deceptive. From the outside, The Borough Barista looks quite large, a big square sitting on its corner spot. There’s a generous provision of tables outside, with three along one side and four along the other. However, like an inverse Tardis, it’s smaller on the inside, largely imposed by the interesting layout.
Rather than the expected square, it’s L-shaped, the recessed door in the corner. To your left (top of the L), the counter dominates, with takeaway station and fridge opposite, while to your right (bottom of the L) there’s a long table with two communal benches. Another six spaces can be found at three little bars in the window, with a round one-person table tucked between the door and the fridge.
At the end of the bench, stairs leads down behind the counter. Pushing my Tardis analogy to its limits, the downstairs actually feels much bigger than the upstairs! There’s a lovely, spacious lounge, with a double sofa and another long table. Beyond are the toilets, storeroom and kitchen. More seating could have been squeezed in, but only at the risk of spoiling the space.
So, when everything’s taken into account, there’s actually quite a lot of seating at The Borough Barista. See, I told you appearances were deceptive!
Throughout the décor is neutral greys and blues, an unpromising colour scheme that works exceedingly well. The walls are hung with art, which changes on a monthly basis. Currently it’s by Jayson Lilley, featuring representative images of iconic London landmarks. There’s also a couple of lovely dappled paintings, one of a London street and the other, hanging behind the espresso machine, of a tree-filled cemetery.
The atmosphere was really relaxed and laidback with quiet background music, never loud enough to be intrusive. The air-conditioning, meanwhile, kept things cool enough that all thoughts of sitting outside on the particularly sticky summer afternoon that I was there were banished. Although the most people sitting in the store at any one time was three, with another three outside, a steady stream of takeaway customers gave it a busy feel.
The Borough Barista packs a lot in, by the way. There are sandwiches (which can be toasted) and salads, a small (but excellent) range of cupcakes, muffins and giant cookies and a fairly-full espresso menu. I started with a very fine piccolo that was just the right size, the coffee blending well with the milk and coming through strongly without overwhelming it. The resulting drink was very smooth, with just a hint of bitterness.
I was so taken with the piccolo that I had to know how the straight espresso tasted, so I ordered one. It came in an extremely fetching blue cup and was very short, always a good start. The espresso itself was a delight, one of the best I’ve had in a long, long time. It was very smooth, with just a hint of bitterness going down and a slightly fruity aftertaste. The owner, Tim, told me that he’d been working with the roasters, Grumpy Mule, since March 2013, trying to get a consistent blend, eschewing the third wave tendency to experiment and serve seasonal blends. From my perspective it looks as if they have hit on exactly the right combination!
|60A SEYMOUR STREET • LONDON • W1H 7JN|
|www.theboroughbarista.com||+44 (0) 20 7563 7222|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Benches, Bar; Tables outside|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Sandwiches, salads, cake|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Cards||Amex, Visa, Mastercard|
|Friday||08:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Saturday||09:00 – 17:00||Power||One (at the end of the long table)|
|Sunday||11:00 – 17:00||Mobile||3G, Voice|
|Chain||Local||Visits||9th August 2013|
For a more up-to-date perspective, you can see what fellow coffee-blogger Audrey Fiodorenko made of the Borough Barista when she visited in 2015.
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