The Espresso Lounge in Tring was the second (and sadly final) stop on my recent mini-road trip. Not very far from my first stop, Kings Langley’s Fred & Ginger Coffee, the Espresso Lounge is a very different beast, but with the same end result: an excellent place to stop for coffee.
Set in a lovely old building on the High Street, the Espresso Lounge takes a slightly more traditional approach to its coffee. Run by husband and wife team Aron (barista, front of house) and Clare (chef, kitchen) you are assured of a warm welcome and some wonderful food and cake (I did indulge this time!), all cooked in the kitchen at the back.
The espresso blend, along with a single-origin Kenyan Peaberry (for pour-overs) are roasted especially for The Espresso Lounge, although Aron confessed that he would like to get into roasting his own beans in due course. Indeed, I was impressed in equal measure by Aron’s knowledge of, and passion for, great coffee. A fan of the New York coffee scene, Aron cut his teeth as a barista on a coffee cart in lay-by on the near-by A41 before moving indoors to set up The Espresso Lounge.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Normally I like to do my coffee spot visits incognito, sampling somewhere and getting the feel of it before introducing myself. That way I know that I’m getting the same experience as a customer who’s just walked in off the street. Sometimes, however, I get spotted.
This time it was my photography that was my undoing. Fearing failing light and poor weather later in the day, I decided to get my exterior shots before I went in, but was spotted by Aron who wandered out to see what I was doing (the last time this happened was at North Tea Power). Fortunately, judging by the way Aron greeted all his other customers while I was there, I don’t think the subsequent warm welcome I received was in any way influenced by my coffee-blogging status.
The Espresso Lounge itself is a curious little space, reminding me of an Italian restaurant, with its tiled floor, white-washed walls and low, wood-beamed ceiling. It consists of two rooms, front and back, with the party wall knocked through, leaving just the old fireplace/chimney as a free-standing feature.
You enter the front room through the door on the right-hand side. The counter is to your left, while there are two four-person tables ahead of you and a smaller one in front of the fireplace (where I sat). You can get to the back by going either way around the fireplace, where you’ll find another three tables, one of which is in the mirror position on the other side of the fireplace.
The result is a couple of very cosy, intimate spaces. Had I not spent most of my time chatting with Aron, I would have been very tempted to sit at the back. As it was, I enjoyed myself at the front, where the atmosphere was rounded off by an excellent soundtrack of jazz classics.
So, to business. The Espresso Lounge serves a traditional coffee-shop menu, with breakfast/brunch served until two in the afternoon and lunch served from 11:30. Sadly, having indulged in lunch at Fred & Ginger Coffee, I missed out on brunch, otherwise I would have been very tempted by the Eggs Florentine. As it was, I had the cake that I’d missed out on at Fred & Ginger.
The cake selection at The Espresso Lounge was excellent and, after much indecision, I settled on the apple cake. This turned out to be very fine indeed, with rum-laced buttercream and real chunks of apple. It had an excellent structure and wasn’t too sweet which can sometimes be a failing in such cakes.
For coffee, I went for espresso and was served an old-school double-espresso (ie it was huge by third-wave standards). It came with a glass of water as default and was very fine; a touch of bitterness and a fair amount of body. Third-wave purists will mourn the lack of exciting floral notes and so forth, but for my palette, it was perfect and I felt right at home. The blend itself is specially roasted for the Espresso Lounge.
As well as a comprehensive espresso menu, The Espresso Lounge offers a range of single-origin pour-overs through either Aeropress or V60. There is a selection of beans from Ozone, plus a Kenyan Peaberry, which again is specially roasted for The Espresso Lounge.
|56 HIGH STREET • TRING • HP23 5AG|
|http://theespressolounge.co.uk||+44 (0) 1442 828228|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 16:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 16:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Thursday||07:30 – 17:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Friday||07:30 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Saturday||09:00 – 18:00||Power||No|
|Sunday||10:00 – 17:00||Mobile||3G, Voice|
|Chain||No||Visits||20th February 2014|
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