TAP (Tapped and Packed as was) is a chain of three (now four) central London coffee shops. I featured No 114 (Tottenham Court Road) earlier this year and thought it was time for another, the flagship No 193 on Wardour Street. TAP’s reputation is built on its coffee, all roasted in the Probat at the back of No 193. If you want to see it in action, you’ll need to visit on Tuesday (which, ironically, I’ve never managed).
TAP regularly rotates its coffee, having no house blend. At the moment there are two espressos, a blend (for milk) and a single estate (to have black). There are three single origins on the V60 filter: a Guatemalan, an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and a Rwandan Musasa Ruli.
As well as the attraction of watching the coffee roasting, No 193 is a lovely place to sit and drink said coffee. It’s the largest of the three, long and thin, but well-lit by a generous supply of windows. Inside it’s all wood, with bare floorboards and white-washed walls. The only exception is the coffee counter which is metal (albeit with a wooden top). The atmosphere is rounded off with quiet music and the gentle hum of conversation.
December 2017: TAP has been bought by the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs chain. I don’t know what this will mean for TAP and whether it will retain its own unique character, so watch this space!
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
The great thing about TAP is that, as a brand, it’s cracked it. I wrote about this when I was at No 114. Although you’ll struggle to see the name TAP anywhere in the shop (I spotted it three times and I was looking!), No 193 is instantly recognisable as a branch of TAP, from the trademark bicycle above the door through to the interior fittings.
No 193 is the most recent TAP and might have the largest ratio of length to width of any coffee shop I’ve visited. Yes, I know, I notice things like this. Sorry. This is in stark contrast to No 114 (it’s square), and yet the similarities are striking: the same furniture, same colour scheme, same pedestal with takeaway bits and pieces, same filter rack, same black treacle tins on the tables holding the sugar. The only differences are in the layout and the minor detail that No 193 has a coffee roaster at the back!
Unlike No 114, where the espresso machine and counter are about as far away from the door as you can get, at No 193, they’re the first things you come across, something that’s dictated by the narrowness of the store. However, like No 114, the counter and espresso machine/filter rack are physically separate, creating a clear distinction between ordering and collection points.
In the case of No 193, the counter, laden with cakes and sandwiches, is on the right as you come in. Opposite this is a little bar against the wall, with a bench squeezed in between counter and window. Next comes a small row of high tables on the right and, opposite them, the espresso machine and filter rack.
Beyond that the store stretches away to the Probat roaster at the back. Along with Workshop in Clerkenwell, Cirencester’s Rave Coffee and Small Batch in Hove, it’s one of the shortest roaster-to-cup paths in the land. The main seating is here: two long rows of tables with benches against the walls and smaller, one/two person benches down the middle. Finally a couple of stools sit in front of the filter rack so you can perch and watch your coffee being made. All the furniture is bolted to the floor. Don’t walk into any of it; there’s no give at all (I know, I tried).
Despite being long and thin, No 193 is well-lit by a generous wall-to-ceiling window at the front, and skylights and side windows at the back. This is supplemented by low-hanging lights, one per table, which are just high enough not to be annoying. These hang from a metal rail which itself hangs from the ceiling. For some reason I really like them (more than I usually like strange lighting!).
I’ve had various filter coffees during several visits to No 193 and all of them have been excellent. This time I had an El Triunfo from Guatemala, a comparatively unadventurous coffee, described on the tasting notes as a “perfectly well-rounded morning coffee”. It was just as described: very smooth, good body and nothing too challenging to start my day. Since it was lunchtime, I also had a red pepper and hummus sandwich which was very fine and not too spicy (which sometimes can be an issue, particularly if you are having it with coffee!).
|193 WARDOUR STREET • LONDON • W1F 8ZF|
|Monday||08:00 – 19:00||Roaster||TAP (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 19:00||Seating||Tables with Benches, Bar, Bench Outside|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 19:00||Food||Sandwiches, Salads, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 19:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 19:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa (£0.40 charge under £5)|
|Saturday||10:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||11:00 – 18:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||9th December 2013|
You can also see what I made of the new TAP branch on Russell Square which opened in the summer of 2017.
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